Blogging Bayport Alameda

October 21, 2022

Creating “balance”

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:02 am

Look, I’m really getting tired of all this “balance” boloney. And, no, I’m not just picking on Paul B here folks, I’m dragging the EB Times and League of Women Voters into this mess as well.

Since I mentioned the League of Women Voters yesterday I’ll point out that they have been trying to maintain the appearance of “balance” and “neutrality” but, at this point, the issues that they’re bringing to the forefront are anything but that. They’re taking out huge full newspaper spread ads to show their comparisons of what money candidates are raising but, as this Alamedan pointed out decided to not publish what PACs have raised, particularly because one of the people closely associated with the PAC is now involved with LWV as well:

And while the LWV is now saying that “it’s expensive to run” but then puts out a highly disingenuous and poorly researched statement about Measure E which would probably entice more people to run for office then Ranked Choice Voting or talking about how expensive it is to run for office and then trying to shame candidates for raising money so they don’t have to go into debt to run for office. By the way, the initial analysis by LWV of Measure E had to be walked back by the president of the LWV.

Then there was the EB Times analysis of the School Board candidates and I had already flagged a problem with the way that a certain topic was structured:

I found the attempt to balance this topic by using very select instances of “the left” asking for the removal of books to be a rather stretched given that “the right” has been waging an all out war on books these days. Neither Huck Finn nor Mockingbird were on the top banned titles by district, the majority of the titles banned had LGBTQ+ content

I was even more disappointed when the full question was revealed:

School boards, districts, teachers and librarians are under what might be called a “curriculum suppression or re-focusing siege” around the nation.

From the political right, calls to censor or suppress content abound. They include prohibitions or restrictions on curriculum based on the 1619 project, that which “promotes a negative account or representation of the founding and history of The United States,” (a bill being considered in New Hampshire) or teaching or implementing programs related to gender identity orientation, resurrecting prayer in schools and so on.

From the political left, come calls to cover up or do away with school murals of George Washington, the branding of Abraham Lincoln as a racist , the removal of certain Dr. Seuss books, and the shelving of renowned American works of literature as “Huckleberry Finn,” “Of Mice And Men,” and “To Kill A Mockingbird,” — just to name a few– on the grounds that racist epithets or scenarios contained in them are too offensive or shocking for students to read.

Social Studies teachers are also faced with the dilemma of what to steer clear of for fear of offending students, parents or administrators if and when they teach content involving lynching, race riots, segregationist speeches or screeds , police brutality, and so on.


Follow—up: But how, given the often vocal and sometimes presumptuous, agenda driven forces on left and right of the socio-political spectrum, do we do that without minimizing, sugar coating or neglecting content that others find “offensive, shocking, racist, unpatriotic, propagandistic” and so on from the left? To wit: on the one hand districts have “shelved” To Kill A Mockingbird, Huckleberry Finn because they contain an offensive epithet, and others have forbidden discussion or teaching about gender orientation. On the other hand, from the right: restrictions or prohibitions on teaching the values of “diversity and Inequality”, presenting materials that show racist tenets in US History and society , past and present, or engage in learning about gender identity, different sexual orientations or that espousing standards as “racial colorblindness is racist.” Put differently, how to you propose teachers (& boards, district and site admin) handle such subjects of controversy and debate without fear of targeting, reprisal and being labeled themselves as “racist” , “sexist”, “un-American” “amoral radical leftist” etc.?

Sigh, where to begin. First it’s a tell from the reporter that he believes that that prohibitions on teaching the real history of the US is some how the same as people suggesting that maybe saying that “you don’t see color” is problematic because it erases the experiences of people who can’t scrub away the their race. These are not the same things, the stretch to put them as some how equal in problematicness is problematic in itself. By the way the example of the “covering up” of the school mural of George Washington is much more nuanced than what was thrown out there. The tension around the murals was not a new phenomenon but one that had been around since the 1960s. Concerns about racist caricatures is very different than not allowing a full accounting of history to be told. And if that history shows out founding fathers to be problematic or, yes, even racist, we should be able to acknowledge and confront that history. But struggling to find equal weight between what the “left” and the “right” is doing is minimizing and standing behind false balance. Because finding “balance” when non white people have been marginalized for centuries is still propping up those that have always had an outsized voice in our discourse.

And finally, our friend Paul B who has centered balance in his campaign and made it his raison d’etre. From his answers to the Alameda Post (he told us all he would have more answers to the Housing Element question when these answers dropped but, spoiler alert: there are no detailed answers) he doubled down on the false balance stuff which is so popular these days:

First of all, I sort of feel like he’s setting up a dichotomy that doesn’t exist. Not only that, I don’t think anyone has said we need to choose between any of the two option he has listed in each of his bullet points. Has anyone suggested we have to be “extreme” NIMBYs or YIMBYs?

Has anyone said we need to center only cyclists or only drivers?

Has anyone suggested that we can’t hold police accountable and yet still have a fully staffed police force?

That he’s suggesting that there are wide swaths of people out there screaming: “choose!!!” to these options is problematic in itself. Most people are nuanced and not extreme. Balance is not just doing everything “in the middle” and thinking you’ve solved the world’s problems. True balance is understanding where we’ve been (and that includes acknowledging the real and lasting damage that has happened to people along the way) and where we need to go and governing accordingly to create the best outcomes for as many people as possible.


  1. “Balance” just means siphoning enough votes from both sides to win a seat. The man is woefully unprepared for city council. It’s a shame he was not at the Alameda Post candidates forum, because the difference between him and Hannah Groce or Jim Oddie is striking.

    Comment by Reality — October 21, 2022 @ 6:44 am

    • The article was a breath of fresh air. “Balance” is what is missing in politics on both a local, statewide and national level. Why do both the Bontas refuse to debate their opponents? Why are there so few debates in state races? Why is their so much censorship by social media companies? This is simply to keep opposing points of view from the general public. Oddie’s union and out of town fundraising should not be a secret. And I applaud the LWV for doing its job. People deserve to know the truth.

      Middle school and high school history courses are by design “survey” courses, which require teachers to instruct on basic values of our country and provide an overview of major events. Sadly, for most students, unless you had a good social studies teacher you graduated with a minimum knowledge of what young Americans knew even ten, twenty, or 50 years ago. Using a 21 st century metric to teach students everything about our past would mean teaching students that Southern Democrats caused the Civil War, Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood didn’t want Blacks to reproduce, that the Democrats founded the KKK and imposed Jim Crow laws, that Democrats in the Senate blocked civil rights laws, that Progressives and Big Labor implemented 19th Century anti- immigration laws, and too many other facts damaging to the Progressive narrative. Are you sure you want the truth to leak out?

      Comment by Good Swimmer — October 21, 2022 @ 10:53 am

    • “Balance” can mean a lot of things. At its best, it means some combination of (1) recognizing the legitimacy of the concerns of those at each end of whatever spectrum is relevant, and (2) identifying win-win or compromise approaches that work as a practical matter for most while being truly unfair to none. Of course, each side in a polarized environment thinks it’s balanced on own, because it’s right; further balance would only introduce wrongness. This is the attitude that tire balance seeks to supplant or transcend.

      Comment by Reuben Stob — October 21, 2022 @ 2:37 pm

      • Have you been following the GOP’s embrace of Nazism, or maybe the both-sides instruction of slavery and the Holocaust in Texas? What is “best” about that? What was the win-win for the Jews or Blacks?

        “At its best, it means some combination of (1) recognizing the legitimacy of the concerns of those at each end of whatever spectrum is relevant, and (2) identifying win-win or compromise approaches that work as a practical matter for most while being truly unfair to none.”

        Comment by Larry Witte — October 22, 2022 @ 8:50 am

        • There are certainly examples of one side having zero legitimate concerns. I wouldn’t take from those examples that all or even most issues break down that way.

          Comment by Reuben Stob — October 23, 2022 @ 12:08 pm

  2. Charts showing the source of funding for Independent Expenditure Committees (IECs) will be posted on the League of Women Voters Alameda website by Monday, along with updates of charts currently posted showing independent expenditures made on to support or oppose candidates. The currently posted independent expenditure charts were based on the Sept. 27 pre-election filings and significant independent expenditures were made shortly thereafter. All the graphs and tables will be updated again after the next pre-election filings at the end of the month. The charts for the current and past elections are available at

    Comment by Allan Mann — October 21, 2022 @ 9:52 am

    • It is interesting that currently, the groups that seem to want to promote “transparency” are going out of their way to hide their own structure. I notice that the governing body of both the League of Women Voters, and ABA/ACT are not made available on their website. Allen, what are you doing about that? Knowing the level of overlap between the two organizations is important to be able to judge the objectivity of the LWV.

      Comment by notadave — October 21, 2022 @ 10:04 am

    • The League certainly seems to have it’s thumb on the scale.

      Comment by egelblock — October 21, 2022 @ 2:35 pm

  3. Has any person or group, from either side of the spectrum, actually tried (successfully or not) not get any title removed from AUSD libraries or curricula? Do we have titles that people or groups have tried to get removed elsewhere? Is this even a live issue here?

    Comment by Reuben Stob — October 21, 2022 @ 2:14 pm

    • During the Lesson 9 debate, Trish Spencer took issue with many books on the reading list. She tried to get them removed that list.

      Comment by Lauren Do — October 21, 2022 @ 2:40 pm

      • Thanks, that helps. I’ll look into the Lesson 9 stuff; mighta been before my time here. Seems to me this is evidence that those expressing some modicum of concern here aren’t exactly the Chris Rufos of the world.

        Comment by Reuben Stob — October 21, 2022 @ 3:02 pm

      • To take this back to balance …. What Texas is doing to parents of transitioned or transitioning kids strikes me as really bad. But California also restricts care options by law, in the opposite direction. Similarly, the Heritage Foundation just realized model legislation outlawing parents being left out of the loop – while AUSD affirmatively requires that parents be left out of the loop (absent “consent” from a child as young as 5). Might “balance” mean recognizing that each policy might be misguided but driven by a legitimate concern and seeking to strike a …. balance? Without reflexive allegations of “bigotry” or “grooming”? Just one example.

        Comment by Reuben Stob — October 21, 2022 @ 3:13 pm

        • You’re going to both-sides saving young peoples’ lives? Your balanced position on trans youth will kill people. I’m fully for keeping people alive. One of the main arguments for Lesson 9 was the prevalence of suicide among LGBTQ youth. If you balance, they die.


          Comment by Larry Witte — October 22, 2022 @ 8:46 am

        • I checked out the old Lesson 9 stuff and don’t quite get the opposition (though I wasn’t living here at the time and don’t pretend to have the full picture). I’m talking about today’s issues (including parental notification/involvement), which I don’t understand to be quite the same. If course, that’s just one example. To me “balance” doesn’t always require ending up in the middle, it means recognizing and recognizing using and genuinely attempting to consider and accommodate legitimate concerns.

          Comment by Reuben Stob — October 23, 2022 @ 11:37 am

        • Here’s a summary of the just-released draft new guidelines for transgender care from the UK. They reject the Texas approach and are more liberal than what even countries like Sweden and Finland are doing but are far more nuanced than what we have in California as well as more open about identifying gaps in the evidence. I don’t have a view at this point on whether they’re correct; but they’re an effort at real balance and I think good. Efforts and discussions like this should be encouraged and the norm rather than shut down by activists on either side, including based on media stories whether from KQED or Fox News. At the very least, states should not at this point be restricting care options nor should schools categorically be keeping parents out of the loop IMHO. We’ll see where it goes.

          Comment by Reuben Stob — October 23, 2022 @ 11:54 am

        • Reuben – your spinning of issues is never productive or useful. I am so tired of reading your screeds. If you had a trans kid in this district (or a kid in the school district) you’d know when they change their name in Aeries – parents know. And your fixation on a vulnerable population and wanting to make something political out of their existence is the trashy shit libertarians do in their mission to muddy the waters. When our son told us about their need for a name that truly reflected their transition – we supported this. My wife also saw their teacher rally in support too. And the name is just one of many things the district is trying to support our son. Why don’t you focus on your own kids for once. You hanging out on your porch to post your social media posts while they entertain themselves is truly sad. Try being a dad first and a dick later.

          Comment by bye bye CanadaCuck — October 24, 2022 @ 8:54 pm

        • Sea lions gotta sea lion, yo!

          Comment by Rod — October 25, 2022 @ 9:54 am

        • This is only true where the student has taken the affirmative step to request a name change in Aeries and gone through with that change having been counseled that parents will be alerted as a result. Otherwise, the policy of hiding all of this from parents – absent “consent” from children as young as 5 – applies. How big a deal is this? Unclear. It’s possible all children have been counseled in a way that satisfies the policy while respecting parents. But it depends on the discretion of school officials. And it came up as a question appropriate for asking of board candidates. I think it’s an appropriate question. And I’d avoid policies like this designed to exclude parents by default rather than where there’s a specific articulable reason for doing so.

          Click to access 7539362999883492101.pdf

          Comment by Reuben Stob — October 28, 2022 @ 1:19 pm

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