Monday Morning Thoughts III: Journalistic Norms of Fairness and Balance Challenged

Print Newspapers

There is an interesting column in the NY Times today that the norms of journalistic objectivity are being tested in this current election year.  I’m not going to link the story because it gets us off-track in terms of where I wish to go in this column.

But reading the column reminded me of one of the most-read early Vanguard stories, “Commentary: When “Fair and Balanced” is Less Accurate,” from May 2007.  While the examples cited in that article are very dated and time-specific, the main idea remains intriguing.

The basic idea is roughly the same in both columns – the journalistic norm of fairness and balance requires a somewhat neutral reading of political disputes.  Both sides get their position laid out, get quoted, and the journalists typically allow the reader to then become referee to decide which side is right.

The problem you run into here is we assume that there are two sides to the story with the truth somewhere in between.  But what happens if that is not the case – if one side is factually correct and the other side is factually wrong?  What happens if one side simply lies or makes up their case?

As I wrote in 2007, this “demonstrates that fair and balanced is not necessarily more accurate. And that sometimes you need to be able to take sides to accurately report a story.”

I argued, “The moment you accept even the possibility that there may be validity to this point, you have to look at media such as blogs in an entirely different fashion because the assumption has always been that bias equals less accuracy, but perhaps the truth is that sometimes bias gives you more information than artificial attempts to maintain the journalistic ethos of fair and impartial reporting. Sometimes, we need to get to the truth and the only way to do that is to take sides.”

That was the emerging challenge back in 2007 when alternative news, be it blogs or other sites, started to challenge the mainstream media.

That appears to be an even bigger challenge today.

The need to establish baseline facts in political discourse is a challenge.  For one thing, while there are times when the political claims are simply untrue (we can look at the past week for several very prominent examples, but, alas, that gets us off course).  But, most of the time, statements and claims are shades of gray.

One example that came up was a claim that California had lost 9000 companies from 2008 to 2015.  Taken in isolation it may be an accurate statement, but the reality is more nuanced.

As the LA Times reported in January, “California has spawned new businesses at one of the fastest rates in the nation over the last decade, and faster than the U.S. economy overall, the report found. The state is also a leader in job creation tied to those new businesses: In 2013, California added jobs from newly established businesses faster than all but four other states.”

Ferreting out the truth can be a difficult and cumbersome task in itself.  In social science, we are taught to create models which explain the impact of cause (independent variable) on effect (dependent variable).  We then use regression equations to see how strong the relationship is between the variables and how much of the variance a given model can explain.

But, of course, the model is only as good as the assumptions that underlie the model, and the omission of key variables or the complexity of the model can undermine its findings.

Journalists have attempted to maintain the appearance of neutrality by having fact checks.  They take a given statement and then run a story fact checking it.  These occur at times internally, and other times organizations like FactCheck or PolitiFact operate as ways to provide transparency and accountability for claims for politicians.

But even these attempts run amuck.  Political analysts on both sides have poked holes in some of the claims from these fact-checking organizations, and sometimes the truth is much more nuanced than we would like it to be.

The bottom line is that, while it is a journalist’s responsibility to report what has happened as accurately as possible, journalists run into barriers when the people they are supposed to be reporting on know how to intentionally game the system.

Journalists have to adapt to the world because it does the public no good to run a fair and balanced story if the underlying claims are simply false.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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97 thoughts on “Monday Morning Thoughts III: Journalistic Norms of Fairness and Balance Challenged”

  1. South of Davis

    David wrote:

    > it is a journalist’s responsibility to report

    > what has happened as accurately as

    > possible

    Sadly this is not the case, the job of a “journalist” (who does not want to get fired) is to make their boss, readers and advertisers happy…

  2. SODA

    As a reader, I would want ‘fair and balanced’  journalists to ‘endorse’ a certain side of facts if true and call out a side with inaccurate facts. A news story should; an op-ed can be more opinion and show the journalist’s bent.

    In today’s world, it is harder to find ‘fair and balanced’, especially on cable news. I think part of that is that with 24/7, they have to keep presenting the issues over and over and we either drown in the fair and balanced or it begins to change to a particularly point of view.

    “Just the facts, ma’am” please.

    Do you agree?

  3. Marina Kalugin

    jeez…another point we agree on ..  South of Davis….and especially the advertiser’s …those with big bucks, especially, like developers and realtors aka developers, and big corporations…and so on….

    and is SODA a different person…gosh I may have gotten them confused along the way….anyway,

    I now get my “news” from FB friends worldwide and yahoo news and huffington …and from Putin….jeez….

    If it is in the DE, the DV, the SacBee, and so on, one can guarantee it is lacking in truth and facts…and is mostly to appease those “advertisers”    – or at minimum, not deep enough to unearth the truth…



    1. Grok

      Hi Marina, I think it might not really be fair to expect fair and unbiased reporting from the Vanguard because at its core it is an opinion blog that has come to be heavily funded by development interests as opposed to the DE and Sac Bee that style themselves as newspapers.

        1. Grok

          Please link to the analysis and I will gladly retract. I am basing this on your resent fundraising event and program, I would welcome different information, for example you could publish a list of your donors.

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            I’m not going to publish a list of donors individually, but instead I categorized them by interest. I’ll publish it later in the week.

        2. Grok

          I am curious what you mean by “interest” and I look forward to you publishing this. Hopefully you are able to publish this in a full enough way to settle concerns that the Vanguard has become beholden to certain donors.

        3. Grok

          Thanks for posting that BP. My understanding is it has been a more recent trend that developer interests are becoming the main financial backers of the DV, but none the less the vast majority of the largest givers were from developer or related interests at the 2014 fund raiser.

          David, is there a reason you don’t plan on listing donors individually as you have done in the past? Or perhaps I am misunderstanding and you do intend to list donors AND their interests.

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            I’ve never listed donors in the past. The link you have before you is a partial list of sponsors for our event last September. I have the program from the 10th anniversary event in my office if you want a copy. That lists all of the “sponsors” of the event.

        4. Miwok

          Actually, when anyone says “actually” I know it is pablum.

          Just like:

          1. Well,

          2. Let me be clear,

          3. The Truth is,

          4. I will be as transparent as possible.

          etc etc etc..

          WHO WHAT WHY WHERE WHEN? Has English class changed since I went to school? The articles from the VG severely lack the same elements of the BEE stories, but that is the goal, right? Not reporting, just opinions.

        5. Grok

          David Greenwald
          August 8, 2016 at 12:44 pm

          I think you guys are citing the same event over and over again

          David, We admittedly have limited information to go on and are forced to speculate. There is an easy solution, post a full list of your donors and amounts then there will be no more speculation.

      1. Frankly

        You have this half right.  It is an opinion blog.  In fact, all blogs are that.  They are supposed to be a conversation… not a place to go to get your unbiased news.  But the lean of the VG has nothing to do with funding.  In fact, I am aware of a sizable VG contributor that disagrees with David on probably 80% of his opinions.

        It seems that you are just whining about your anti-growth crusade not being supported by other thinking people.  Maybe you should start your own anti-growth blog.

        1. Barack Palin

           In fact, I am aware of a sizable VG contributor that disagrees with David on probably 80% of his opinions.

          Hmmmm… who would that be?

        2. Marina Kalugin

          I guess, since even David was confused about the donor listings …saying they were the same ones…

          that they pretty much confirm it is mostly developers each year????  right???  but one was from 2008 and then in 14 and 15 it was even more heavily on developers???

          can’t wait so see the latest from the happenings just last weekend…

          anyone have it?

          and, why, Frankly, do you happen to know that?  the public wants to know…don’t we??

  4. Marina Kalugin

    ha ha….I am starting to like your humor Grok….but it is no different, and has never been different for the DE…

    I have been friends with Foy McNaughton since the very early 70s….and I can tell you that most newspapers are struggling so bad that they have to rely on ad dollars…and guess who has the ad dollars?????see my post here and elsewhere on so many threads….ha ha..

      1. Marina Kalugin

        and what about the rest?

        how much of the donations are from vested interests?????

        are you required to make reports of the funding and where it comes from and from whom?????

        1. Grok

          I want to point out that there could be a significant distinction between “Most people who donate,” and what interests donate the most money. For example a small group of 5 people could be donating more than all other donors combined. Hopefully the donor information to be published later this week will be able to settle these concerns.

        2. Marina Kalugin

          thanks for posting that BP……I knew there was a reason why I shoulda tried harder to be at the 10th Anniversary one….

          but, it was going to run past my bedtime…which is whenever I can get a catnap….lol…..

          anyone who has the time today, could request the 2015 nonprofit tax statements and post them for the others to view….here…or elsewhere… no matter…

          and, finally, if one notices any of the non-profit rules and regulations not being adhered to, then they can also file a complaint…

          sorry, don’t have that info handy…where to file a complaint, I mean….

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            Last year yes. This year, no. We’ve already passed last year’s total gross receipts.

  5. Marina Kalugin

    the day after I first found the DV,  and posted my first piece on April 27…titled Alumni Support Katehi I got a voicemail on my work number from someone who called to support what I said…

    she said that she no longer posts on the DV as it is too one sided….

    I keep hearing that now from many others….

    Those who pose an alternative view…to the ones that David and others hold, actually are treated much worse than the favorites…

    their inappropriate posts are left standing, while even kind and gentle posts that show an opposing view are deleted, edited and censured with the all encompassing “that is off-topic”   or “why cannot you stay on topic”….usually by those who are the favored children on this board…

    I am a newcomer….some are just now starting to know who I am and why I do what I do…

    1. Miwok

      Marina, I agree with the aspect many of the posts are one-sided. Since I became a part of the community in the 80’s, I have been amused and bewildered by the attitude of the people who live and work in Davis.

      I have attended City Council Meetings, and others when my curiosity warranted. I am always amazed how these “committees” plan to force people into the Utopian Vision they have for this town. You cannot be there without feeling the pressure to conform, and penalties when you don’t.

      The City violates its own ordinances regarding housing and occupancy, because they arguably have no other choice. When I have asked about Code Enforcement, I was informed the Police are responsible for it, while every other town and City I know has their own department, not wasting the PD’s time.

      Then they argue they can do less with more, as in people, and now have a distinct institutional shortage of experience and knowledge. UCD has done the same thing, to their own detriment.

      Because of the political agendas of most of the people in this town, it is impossible to even get the roads fixed. What a Legacy.

  6. Eric Gelber

    “Fair and balanced” should not be the standard. The touchstone should be accuracy. Balance means giving credence to positions that are clearly not supportable. It allows corporate interests to politicize scientific issues and obfuscate the truth. Look what the tobacco industry did with cigarettes for decades and what the fossil fuel industry is now doing with climate change.
    Also, objectivity vs. bias is not a useful dichotomy. Objectivity in news reporting is a myth. All news reporting is subjective—down to the decision of what stories to cover. And bias in journalism is not necessarily a bad thing. Advocacy journalism has its place and often brings needed attention to significant societal problems.
    Again, it comes down to accuracy. Accuracy depends on fairness—i.e., evaluation of opposing views. But accuracy and fairness do not depend on balance; not all viewpoints are worthy of equal consideration.

    1. Miwok

      Back in the days of the Union and the Bee, it was fun to compare headlines and stories, since there were two different slants. It was like reading two different stories.

      Now it hurts to see such one-sided views, with no objectivity or desire to have any. And the sad thing is they think they are going to change the World, but it will be at the point of a gun, while arguing for Gun Control.

      1. Marina Kalugin

        if nothing else, everyone always knows where I stand and what I think, right….of course, it is all mostly offtopic also…

        did you know that it is against 503-C   (or is it 501-C3?   )   rules to support any political campaigns and many other such lesser known rules?

        some things , such as that, can get the organization’s non-profit status pulled …….of course, some may think this is also off topic….oh well…



        1. Frankly

          It is really a problem only spending company money or having company expenses tied to political campaigns.  The ED of a non profit can have and state any political opinion as a private individual.

  7. Barack Palin

    One example that came up was a claim that California had lost 9000 companies from 2008 to 2015.  Taken in isolation it may be an accurate statement, but the reality is more nuanced.
    As theLA Times reported in January, “California has spawned new businesses at one of the fastest rates in the nation over the last decade, and faster than the U.S. economy overall, the report found. The state is also a leader in job creation tied to those new businesses: In 2013, California added jobs from newly established businesses faster than all but four other states.”

    But there’s two ways of reporting stories like these.  David chose to report it from the side that California isn’t losing jobs and businesses. But it could’ve been just as easily reported this way:
    California has spawned new businesses at one of the fastest rates in the nation over the last decade, and faster than the U.S. economy overall, the report found. The state is also a leader in job creation tied to those new businesses: In 2013, California added jobs from newly established businesses faster than all but four other states. Even though California has spawned many new businesses and jobs at the same time California has lost 9000 businesses who have either closed down or moved elsewhere.

  8. Marina Kalugin

    oh, and don’t forget, BP,   all of the “new” jobs are temporary and for fewer hours than the Obama mandated levels for benefits …..

    many more businesses are now heading to Mexicali, where the tech boom is now situated, rather than pay the high costs in CA…

    (ref:  Fed Gov latest statistics published in Nov 2015….but based on 2013 data, that more mexicans are heading home to Mexico than coming to the USA because…guess why, better jobs, better working conditions and easier lifestyle)….

    PS>>>>if you are a FB friend, I posted the links to that government pub on my wall…gotta go back to Nov or perhaps Dec though to find it….

    [moderator] I want to explain to you what you just did, and why you get so many moderator actions and comments. BP posted an example that was relevant to the topic. You replied discussing the example, which is now off topic. This isn’t a thread about unemployment or jobs or any of that. It’s about journalism. Please try to stay on topic.

  9. Marina Kalugin

    Grok, lemme guess, those who are running for campaigns, especially those with DI  or whatever that was…how about the developers of Nishi and friends and family, of Will Arnold?  the largest and most entrenched real estate firm aka developers in Davis….

    I could be wrong…but I would bet some companies who support Dodd and Aguilar-Curry….and so on…

    1. Grok

      This is a partial list Highlighting developer donors, but if you look at the links posted by BP, you will see that this is the majority of large donors

      July 30, 2015

      Davis Chamber
      Nishi Gateway
      Mace Ranch Innovation Center
      Sierra Energy (development partner on Nishi)
      Tamiko Gaines (chamber president at the time of event)

      Notable is a donation from UC Davis Center for Science & Innovation Studies which apears to be a program at UCD. It is very unclear to me why a program at UCD would be donating to the Vanguard.


      July 30, 2014

      Bill Ritter
      TJ Demolition and Excavation
      Mace Innovation Center – Oates/RAMCO/Bruner, Davis Innovation Center – Hines/SKK Development/Hodgson
      Tim Ruff – Nishi Gateway LL,
      Capitol Corridor Ventures,
      California Statewide Certified Development Company (CDC),
      Brooks Painting

      Hopefully David can post a fuller accounting to clear this up.

      1. Grok

        I somehow missed Jim Gray (Cushman & Wakefield), Nahz Anvary (Cushman & Wakefield), and DTZ Commercial Real Estate donated at the highest level in 2015

        1. Frankly

          Jim and Nahz are long-time residents.

          I think Grok is chasing a boogieman here.   David has been very clear about his interests to see more rental housing build and to see more commercial space be developed for both to help support UCD tech transfer and for the tax benefits to the community.  Those have been positions that he has held consistent on… and probably all of that 20% in agreement he has with that one donor.

          It isn’t like he is taking money from a white supremacist group and changing his tune on black social justice.

          It is sort of funny if you think about it.  David is primarily getting donations from business in town.   Business is supporting the community blog that would otherwise probably not exist.  And most business that is already in Davis would welcome more commercial property and an expanded local economy… even though they too live in the city and have every opportunity to side with the no-growth Groks in this town… and the no-growth Groks in this town could also decide to donate to David’s community blog.  But they don’t.  Which is really a big part of the problem… the no-growthers for the most part are older folk that don’t like to let go of their money.

        2. Grok

          “I think Grok is chasing a boogieman here.”  

          I am not sure how you get that. I am merely posting the names of the Vanguards donors who are involved in development and noting it seems to me a much larger number of them. I have also been very clear that I look forward to David shedding more light on the subject which I believe he said he would do later in the week. I would rather there are no boogiemen at the Vanguard, and we will just have to wait and see what David level of transparency David has to offer.

          Frankly, do you have a problem with the Vanguard board being posted publicly? Do you have a problem with David disclosing more information about his patrons? Would you have a problem with David disclosing the names of his donors?

        3. Matt Williams

          Grok, the basic principle you are pursuing, transparency of the Vanguard’s donors (of which I am currently one and historically have been one) is very reasonable.  However, you undermine the credibility of your effort when you characterize the Davis Chamber as a Developer (especially in light of your weekend dialogue about how a parking lot at Lincoln 40 will help the downtown businesses, most of which are Chamber members).   Similarly, California Statewide Certified Development Company (CDC) is a small business bank, operating under the programs of the U. S. Small Business Administration, not a Developer.  Similarly, Brooks Painting paints the interior and/or exterior of structures, the bulk of which are owned by individuals or families.

          Your point has enough merit without you taking extra creative license.

          David will get you your answer . . . possibly not until he returns to Davis next week and has access to his historical files.

          As Master Po said often to Caine, “Patience grasshopper.”

        4. Grok

          Well the chamber has historically backed development at times at odds with retail businesses, but fair enough, I was copying and pasting from David’s other stories anyway. Regardless, you are pretty far off base in urging patience since I have already acknowledged repeatedly that David says he is going to post something more about the Vanguard donors and we will just have to wait and see what he posts.

          This whole thread on Vanguard donors got started when I defended David’s right to have a political blog funded by developers (or whoever else) in the first place.


        5. Grok

           “As Master Po said often to Caine, ‘Patience grasshopper.’”

          Just offensive.
          Matt, its like you can’t write on here without sticking your foot in your mouth.

        6. Marina Kalugin

          actually, I like Matt’s humor…but when I joke, I get called out for being “off topic”…patience grasshopper is also from Star Wars, right?   or do I have that confuse also…LOL….

          of course, as a former board member at the DV, he gets a pass when you and I and others do not….oh well I say way too often….  oh well…

  10. Marina Kalugin

    I would bet right now David is wishing he didn’t open this can o worms…and it’s gonna be hard to claim that we are all “off topic”….where are the usual trolls who keep asking for us to be throttle…they must be at lunch or something….

    1. ryankelly

      Why are you so disagreeable?  The topic here is not whether you can or cannot stay on topic.  Your battle with the Editorial Board of the Vanguard is not interesting at all.

      1. Marina Kalugin

        I have found you, your statements, and your attacks on me, ryankelly, truly disagreeable…..

        why are you so into comforting lies,  than the inconvenient truths…is that even your real name…or are you also on the board, yet under a different name…

        you continue to take potshots at me at every turn…

        including things you would only know from looking me up on some search engine…

        what is it that you are hiding?  pray tell?   that you are a union mole?  that you are really a developer?  that your family is related to David…ha ha..


      2. Grok

         “As Master Po said often to Caine, ‘Patience grasshopper.'”

        Just offensive.

        Matt, its like you cant write on here without sticking your foot in your mouth.

        1. Matt Williams

          Well Grok, I’m sorry you feel offended by my associating you with a Shaolin monk and his Zen Master mentor.  It sounds like associating you with a Virtue would have been offensive to you as well.

        2. Grok

          Well Mat, you are not a great listener and I am not going to take the time to explain why your reference is offensive because it would probably take all day and you still would be arguing that the sky is green at the end of the day.


        3. Matt Williams

          That is your prerogative Grok.  You have shown yourself to be very good at making pronouncements.  I will accept this one whole cloth with patience and forbearance.

  11. Grok

    A week ago David graciously posted the membership of the Vanguard board after it was pointed out that the vanguard’s “about us” tab was changed in April of 2016 to remove 2 board members leaving only 3 posted board members although it also states there are 10 board members.

    Here is what David posted:

    Right now: Bob Fung, Tia Will, Alan Hirsh, Leanna Sweha, Cecilia Escamilla-Greenwald, Rob White, Sean Raycraft, and Anya McCann. We have two open spots.

    I note Leanna Sweha’s Linkedin page states her tenure on the Vanguard board as “January 2015 – July 2016 (1 year 7 months).” Standard practice for continuing positions is that the second date is listed as “Present” (this is exemplified in a separate position listed by Sweha). David, is Sweha still on the board as of today?

    Can you provide Dates of the current board’s individual tenures?
    Also in the interest of transparency, I would suggest you provide a history of board membership on your webpage.

  12. ryankelly

    back  some lifetimes ago, when some of us local folks, professors, newspaper editors and so forth belonged to this creepy cult on Olive drive,   one of the things we studied was logic and how to tell when someone is covering something up…

    Scientology?  Is that where you are getting the stuff you are posting here?  What does any of this have to do with the state of journalism?


    1. Loki

      “What does any of this have to do with the state of journalism?” What, you expected Marina to post anything other than a rambling, off-topic diatribe? Do yourself a favor, and don’t feed the trolls.

        1. Marina Kalugin

          jee, thanks BP>>>…and there you have it….the real trolls, who don’t get a clue get no slaps on the wrist…..

          fortunately for all, I have poor wifi today…not gonna be on much…

        2. Loki

          Well yeah, who else would possibly be more qualified? “It takes one to know one,” as they say. I wouldn’t even be trolling here if Marina hadn’t been given a free pass for the last few months.

  13. Marina Kalugin

    this is truly illuminating stuff, Grok….

    I find it fascinating that the board is full of family and friends of the “owner”….including people like Ms.Will….. nuff said…

    I am happy to see my old friend, Sean, on the board….he and I go way back..maybe as far as second grade?  or even first?   ..oddly enough he reminds me of when I was a young activist in the 60s….  my parents would just shrug and let me be…..right, Sean???  I love your folks and they did a great job raising you….

    I believe that the nonprofit status requires reporting on such things annually, and also a much more detailed accounting of where the money comes from and where it goes…

    Also, are “spouses” of the blog owner allowed to be impartial participants on the board?????

    and, finally, is anyone on that board currently posting under pseudonyms on this blog forum or whatever the DV is?

    muchas gracias amigos…

    1. Tia Will

      I find it fascinating that the board is full of family and friends of the “owner”….including people like Ms.Will….. nuff said…”

      I had never met David prior to his interview with me at which time I was invited to be on the board. I have no idea what you are implying with your comment. Nor do I have any idea how your comment relates to the topic of this article.

  14. ryankelly

    I think that there is a difference between merely reporting factual news and journalism that is investigative in nature.  Trying to be “fair and balanced” only works with the reporter sticks to a simple statement of facts or repeating quotes.  This doesn’t work when an opinion of the reporter is inserted.  It then becomes an editorial – an opinion – and, while it can include alternate views, includes a conclusion or summation.  I believe that we want a certain level of activism in investigative reporting.  We rely on journalists to dig around and ask tough questions and be our eyes and ears in our community, but we also don’t want activists to pretend to be journalists.  When you have anti-abortion activists saying that their questionable activities are the acceptable actions of journalism, then it gets confusing.  I think the best journalists are people who are vested in their communities and care about it.

    Last Week Tonight with John Oliver – Journalism:

  15. Frankly

    The problem we have in this country is that the press/media used to be like a watchdog… more like a rabid watchdog… that used to take chunks out of everyone in the public eye that deserved to have chunks taken out of them.

    The press has always acted like our fourth branch of government checks and balances.  I believe the founders and designers of our representative-style of democracy fully expected this and dismissed any concern that the press would be infiltrated by politics… it would in fact remain completely independent and obstinate.  Hence why the founders thought enough of the press, putting it in the same category as religious freedoms, to protect it with the First Amendment.

    I think the founders would find our modern news media to be not worthy of those protections, and in fact find them a corrosive and menacing influence in the balance of politics.

    1. Marina Kalugin

      Frankly, really, I was taken to task by another poster for using the term First Amendment improperly on remarks on this very thread…that no-one, and especially me, has any such “rights” here….

      1. Loki

        A handy guide for the First Amendment and its applicability to private (key word, there) online forums like the Vanguard:
        As Bill Nye used to say, “Now you know…”
        (Just gonna assume that the picture won’t make it past moderation, which is fair enough)

  16. Marina Kalugin

    and, Frankly, depending on what kinda non-profit, politics and political views are not supposed to be espoused ….of course, as I say, it “depends” on what kind…

    and, still waiting for some on this list to share more of the details.

    I was kinda bed bound today and spent way too much time here today…luckily we are heading out of town for a couple of days…..enjoy the break…that is if we get out of the house in time…

    1. Frankly

      It is not true that 501 c 3 ordinations are restricted from being active in political issues.  Their restrictions are definitive as it related to political candidates, but less so for legislation and local measures and initiatives.

      From the IRS website:

      Political Candidates:

      Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. Contributions to political campaign funds or public statements of position (verbal or written) made on behalf of the organization in favor of or in opposition to any candidate for public office clearly violate the prohibition against political campaign activity.  Violating this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes.

      Certain activities or expenditures may not be prohibited depending on the facts and circumstances.  For example, certain voter education activities (including presenting public forums and publishing voter education guides) conducted in a non-partisan manner do not constitute prohibited political campaign activity. In addition, other activities intended to encourage people to participate in the electoral process, such as voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives, would not be prohibited political campaign activity if conducted in a non-partisan manner.

      On the other hand, voter education or registration activities with evidence of bias that (a) would favor one candidate over another; (b) oppose a candidate in some manner; or (c) have the effect of favoring a candidate or group of candidates, will constitute prohibited participation or intervention.

      Legislative influencing:

      In general, no organization may qualify for section 501(c)(3) status if a substantial part of its activities is attempting to influence legislation (commonly known as lobbying).  A 501(c)(3) organization may engage in some lobbying, but too much lobbying activity risks loss of tax-exempt status.

      Legislation includes action by Congress, any state legislature, any local council, or similar governing body, with respect to acts, bills, resolutions, or similar items (such as legislative confirmation of appointive office), or by the public in referendum, ballot initiative, constitutional amendment, or similar procedure.  It does not include actions by executive, judicial, or administrative bodies.

      An organization will be regarded as attempting to influence legislation if it contacts, or urges the public to contact, members or employees of a legislative body for the purpose of proposing, supporting, or opposing legislation, or if the organization advocates the adoption or rejection of legislation.

      Organizations may, however, involve themselves in issues of public policy without the activity being considered as lobbying.  For example, organizations may conduct educational meetings, prepare and distribute educational materials, or otherwise consider public policy issues in an educational manner without jeopardizing their tax-exempt status.

      This last paragraph covers it for the Vanguard.

  17. Marina Kalugin

    don’t forget to mention, as obviously this is also off topic, that Jim owns those apartments across from the cannery where he didn’t want an easement to make safer crossing for children and others..

    now that has nothing to do with this topic right,   nahh…off topic…

  18. Tia Will

    btw…what do you “get” for being on the board?  and how does one get on the “board’ and so on…  and what are the duties and do you get paid for participating?   and if so, how much, and if not, then why do you do it???”

    In order asked:

    Nothing. By invitation. I attend meetings, discuss issues as brought up by David, any of the other board members and posters here. No pay. Because I care about Davis the city, Davis the university, and our region and feel that this is an important conversation space for sharing ideas.

    since the topic is fairness and balance and not biased reporting”

    I don’t think that your dot to dot is very compelling. None of the questions that you asked me, and no unsupported statement about me being rude would seem to have anything to do with either fairness or balance since I am neither a reporter, moderator, nor spokesperson for the Vanguard.

    1. Biddlin

      “Because I care about Davis the city, Davis the university, and our region and feel that this is an important conversation space for sharing ideas.”

      Thank you for this, Tia. I hope that through our many disagreements I have never approached the level of impertinence that this execrable person does so regularly and I sincerely apologise if any of my criticisms have been taken personally.

  19. ryankelly

    Tia, Marina is being a troll – posting off-topic and outrageous comments designed to get an emotional response, likely for her own enjoyment.  This is classic troll behaviour. She has been allowed to divert and control the direction of the conversation despite multiple people pleading for her to stay on topic.  My recommendation is to only respond to her comments when the are on topic or for the moderator to be more dilligent about removing her comments when she strays off.

  20. Biddlin

    “or for the moderator to be more dilligent about removing her comments when she strays off.”

    I have tired so much of her personal attacks that are unaddressed by the doubtlessly over worked moderator, that I begin to post and then reconsider, if she’s engaged in the thread. I suspect I am not alone.

    1. ryankelly

      I think if people just continue to post as if she is not there, the conversation should stay on track and it will make the moderator’s job easier.

  21. Marina Kalugin

    haha….personally, I like “those are not the droids you are looking for” way better…

    again, only the garbage by the ones who “own” this list stands  oh well…

    1. Barack Palin

      Don’t worry about it Marina.  Just as they you also have the right to comment on here.  Nobody is forcing them to read your posts so why do they need an ignore button?  I find it hilarious that some of the same people who have in the past attacked and posted vitriolic posts are playing all nicey nice now and have the gall to accuse someone else of personal attacks.

      1. hpierce

        The so called ‘right to post’ is not in question… the “right” asserted was to have nothing edited/moderated/deleted, even if contrary to the VG “rules of engagement”… the latter ‘asserted right’ is not constitutionally protected.  Period.

        Oh, BP, most of my criticisms of a certain poster was due to their playing fast and loose with lies, presented as facts…

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