The billionaire's mayor

Mayor Ed Lee calls himself a progressive — but rich, powerful conservatives are funding his campaign

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rebeccab@sfbg.com

Billionaire Sean Parker, the former Facebook president who was portrayed by Justin Timberlake in the film The Social Network, threw a huge bash in late September for Spotify, the digital music platform he's invested in. The event was held at a Potrero Hill warehouse covered from top to bottom in graffiti to stand out for the occasion, its interior draped with massive, elegant curtains and adorned with chandeliers. The San Francisco Business Times called it "extraordinarily opulent," with top-shelf booze, pigs roasting on spits, piles of lobster and fresh sushi, and a crowd peppered with celebrities, tech professionals, and venture investors. Former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown made an appearance at the lavish event, donning a tux.

Parker and Brown have something in common: They're both supporting Mayor Ed Lee's bid for a full term in office. While campaign finance law prohibits donors from contributing more than $500 to a candidate running for office in San Francisco, the young tech investor donated $100,000 to an independent expenditure (IE) committee that's legally separate from his official campaign, called San Franciscans for Jobs and Good Government. Brown, meanwhile, has hosted fundraisers for the mayor and regularly advocates for Lee in his column in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Parker is just one of several billionaires stepping up to support Lee's mayoral bid. While every mayoral candidate has to raise money, generous support for the interim mayor from the region's wealthiest figures has raised eyebrows, suggesting that the wealthy and powerful trust him to carry forward an agenda that benefits their interests. Businesspeople with financial stakes in city contracts, real-estate professionals involved in major development projects, and investors in San Francisco companies who stand to benefit from specialized tax breaks can all be found in the mix of Lee's donor base. Meanwhile, many of the backers who urged Lee to run before he became an official candidate have deep ties to Brown — and several are remembered for coming under the watchful eye of federal investigators when they served as city officials under his administration.

The IE Parker donated $100,000 to was launched by Ron Conway, a prominent tech investor and registered Republican whose net worth also stretches into the billions. Conway, who's dubbed "The Godfather of Silicon Valley" in a book documenting his meteoric rise, had sunk $151,000 into the committee as of Sept. 24.

Marc Benioff, billionaire CEO of Salesforce.com, dropped another $50,000 into the hat. William H. Draper III, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist who was appointed by Ronald Reagan to preside over the Export-Import Bank of the United States in the 1980s, also pitched in $1,000.

Lee is the city's first Chinese-American mayor, appointed unanimously by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in January 2011 after his predecessor, Mayor Gavin Newsom, ascended to the Lieutenant Governor post in Sacramento. In the months following his inauguration — when he was still presumed to be a caretaker mayor who would serve only until the end of Newsom's term — Lee earned praise from his City Hall colleagues for his inclusive style of governance, affable demeanor, and keen understanding of the nuts and bolts of city government stemming from his years of service as City Administrator. He won approval for crafting a city budget by incorporating input from multiple stakeholders, in sharp contrast with Newsom's tendency to shut out critics.

Lee gave assurances to colleagues and newspaper editors that he wouldn't run, but changed his mind in early August. Once he threw his hat into the ring, the honeymoon ended — and cash from venture capitalists, tech companies, global engineering firms, and high-end real estate outfits began pouring in.

Comments

What San Francisco progressives with the ability to do anything about it is taking steps to shut down luxury condo development?

Posted by marcos on Oct. 18, 2011 @ 9:31 pm

affordable housing too. If those professionals aren't buying SOMA condo's, then they're competing for Mission TIC's, displacing renters in the process.

Plus the City gets development fees, affordable housing setoffs and property taxes.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 19, 2011 @ 5:50 am

Nonsense, when wages are flat or falling and when housing prices are flat or falling, adding new supply does nothing to ease affordability by definition. All new housing does when wages and housing prices are in the red is increase the number of families under water or facing foreclosure.

The window between price to build and sales price, even falling means a windfall for developers whose development fees don't even cover 1/3 of the infrastructure costs to the City. That means either existing San Franciscans pay higher taxes for infrastructure or we see resources diverted from our crumbling facilities towards facilities for those who don't live here yet.

1388 homes in foreclosure today in SF:

http://hotpads.com/search/foreclosure#lat=37.760672785359546&lon=-122.43...

None of this matters because progressives are scared out of their wits that if they were to challenge the imperative of real estate capital, the maw end of the Wall Street serialization machine that drove the economy off a cliff, they will meet electoral armageddon at the hands of the banksters.

Posted by marcos on Oct. 19, 2011 @ 8:12 am
yes

yes, you are right..

Posted by GuestSan Francisco mayoral candidate Harold Miller on May. 02, 2012 @ 9:29 am

And many of these allegations were read to me in the poll. I was also asked my opinion on both The Guardian and The Chronicle as well as the mayor and Jeff Adachi.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 18, 2011 @ 9:47 pm

so what did you say in the poll?

Posted by GuestSan Francisco mayoral candidate Harold Miller on May. 02, 2012 @ 9:30 am

Now there's a pig I'd like to see roasting on a spit.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 18, 2011 @ 9:48 pm

Sean Parker is a billionaire!?!? Already that's a lie; Sean Parker has money problems out the wazoo. . .

Posted by Guest on Oct. 18, 2011 @ 10:15 pm

I'd love to have Sean Parker's money problems

Posted by Greg on Oct. 18, 2011 @ 10:48 pm

Sean Parker's net worth is $2.1 billion as of last month

http://www.forbes.com/profile/sean-parker-2/

Posted by marke on Oct. 19, 2011 @ 7:20 am

"...we're trying to elect a Democrat in a Democrat town."

Guy can't even get that right. Democratic town, son.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 19, 2011 @ 12:43 am

most people use "democrat" instead, for reasons of clarity.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 19, 2011 @ 5:48 am

It's a strategy used by the right to marginalize Democratic politicians

http://mediamatters.org/research/200608160005

Posted by marke on Oct. 19, 2011 @ 7:17 am

The right wing uses language for one purpose, but that does not delegitimate the use of the same language for other purposes.

There is nothing Democratic about the Democrat party and the language used to describe the party that has neoliberal Nancy "Gramm-Leach-Bliley" Pelosi representing center-left San Francisco must reflect that.

Posted by marcos on Oct. 19, 2011 @ 8:14 am

That's ridiculous. Lots of people say it without meaning anything by it.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 19, 2011 @ 8:17 am

Mediamatters is like MSNBC, a left wing balance to Fox News and the Wall Street Journal Editorial Page that is is as much in the orbit of the Democrat Party as the latter two are in the Republicrats'.

One reason why we're in this mess is that we've allowed ourselves to be played against one another via false dichotomies of Democrat v. Republican that play on peoples' basic political orientations which are most likely hardwired with the intent to divide and conquer on behalf of finance, insurance and real estate sectors that are stealing our present and future.

I've learned to not expect too much on the thoughtful scale from Marke and I must admit that I am not disappointed.

Posted by marcos on Oct. 19, 2011 @ 9:04 am

Oh brother.

The word 'Democratic', especially when read aloud instead of printed, can be understandably confusing to the listener or reader as to what exactly is being discussed i.e. democracy or the political party.

The obvious way to solve that problem and to make it clear what is intended, is to use the perfectly accurate term Democrat.

And I've got news for you, it is not just the right wing that is made to feel physically ill by a party that is -not- by any stretch of the imagination supportive of democracy, calling itself the 'Democratic' Party.

The fact that the Democrats abandoned real democracy to become just as completely bought and paid for by corporations as the Republicans, makes the use of the term 'Democratic' to describe that party the quintessential recipe for absurd cognitive dissonance.

With that said. As I stated originally, this is merely an issue of using more clear English, not some right wing linguistic conspiracy.

Spare us the bleeding heart hyperbolics about your precious and abjectly failed milquetoast-liberal party, and ideology.

If there is one thing that I despise even more that an idiot knee-jerk whacko Republican ditto head, it is a self righteous emotional violin playing self deluded 'Democrat'.

Get over yourselves.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Oct. 19, 2011 @ 12:16 pm

having a coherent political message and, indeed, may be a sign that the utterer does not have one.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 19, 2011 @ 12:46 pm

it's doubtful that the people who are give a fuck about your observations.

Start your own if you don't like it.

Of course, that would require you getting off your lazy ass and actually doing something, so no one is expecting much.

Posted by meatlock on Oct. 19, 2011 @ 2:17 pm

Looks like you're the real one percenter.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 19, 2011 @ 2:29 pm

To once again correct your bullshit spin, vast majorities support the Occupy Wall Street movement.

See:

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-10-17/wall-street-protesters-backed-3...

Posted by Eric Brooks on Oct. 19, 2011 @ 2:57 pm

continue to show up to their jobs at Banks and other enterprises even while paying lip service to the few hundred unwashed souls claiming they're going to overthrow global capitalism.

Meanwhile, the stock market has been on a tear since the protest started. Odd, that.

Can't blame you for talking it up though.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 19, 2011 @ 3:10 pm

This is just the beginning.

Posted by Greg on Oct. 19, 2011 @ 3:20 pm

every time the "movement" gets bored after a while, or gets tied of being cold and wet, and gives up.

We'd need a really compelling reason to believe this would be any different. Less than one percent of the population camping out does not a revolution make.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 19, 2011 @ 4:02 pm

It is clearly rising again, and as I said before, far better organized.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Oct. 19, 2011 @ 8:14 pm

the sixties hippies achieved anything.

The protesters here are in a bind. If they merely camp out and protest peacefully, big business can and will ignore them.

While if they try and force the issue, and disrupt financial operations, they'll be arrested.

So either way, it's not clear what they can achieve. And from what I've seen, their "demands" are wishy-washy and unachieveable.

I predict this will have blown over by the Holidays and the bad weather. Real change is achieved through the ballot box, not by not washing for a month.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 20, 2011 @ 11:33 am

is hardly a right wing scheme.

Posted by meatlock on Oct. 19, 2011 @ 12:19 pm

And thanks for the link, Marke. I noticed that too. I let it slide, but since some of my fellow "progressives" seem intent on defending Republican talking points, I'll add my 2 cents.

I'm no Democratic partisan. I actually agree with many of the criticisms of the Democratic Party, but I refuse to frame those criticisms in terms Republican talking points and terminology. While the Democratic Party may be no more "democratic" than the Republican party stands for a republic (they stand for oligarchy), the proper name for the party is the Democratic Party.

It is not a matter of "plain language"; we can figure out whether one is referring to the concept or the party through the use of context, just like we can figure out by context what one means when they say someone is "Green." Do they mean that they are an environmentalist? a member of the Green Party? new and inexperienced? or just full of envy? It's all about context. We don't need to use deligitimizing language invented by other political parties in order to figure out the meaning of the word "Green."

When we do use that language, we're tacitly associating ourselves with the great majority of people who use that same language, which in this case is the Republican party.

I can, and do, criticize the Democratic party, but I do it on my own terms. I don't need to parrot, and therefore amplify, right-wing memes in order to do it.

Posted by Greg on Oct. 19, 2011 @ 3:18 pm

just another politician owned and operated by the billionaires.
Support the occupy movement!

Vote for city district attorney candidates who pledge to issue criminal arrest warrants for the Wall Street Gangsters who looted America!!!!! Arrest em if they set foot in SF!
AND enforce the laws against bribery!!!!

Posted by GuestSf T Party on Oct. 19, 2011 @ 10:09 am

just another politician owned and operated by the billionaires.
Support the occupy movement!

Vote for city district attorney candidates who pledge to issue criminal arrest warrants for the Wall Street Gangsters who looted America!!!!! Arrest em if they set foot in SF!
AND enforce the laws against bribery!!!!

Posted by GuestSf T Party on Oct. 19, 2011 @ 10:10 am

You do understand there are jurisdictional issues involved?

There also was a DA named Jim Garrison who tried to use local DA-ing for these types of things, it was a hoot.

Posted by meatlock on Oct. 19, 2011 @ 12:16 pm

Whine and complain online?
How's that working out for you, Troll?

Posted by meatlock on Oct. 19, 2011 @ 12:24 pm

BOMA.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 19, 2011 @ 12:48 pm

Its like Fox News is coming to take back the city.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 19, 2011 @ 1:32 pm

and all his favorite propagandists are coming!

Posted by meatlock on Oct. 19, 2011 @ 2:19 pm

keep telling all of the protesters, you are not gonna make changes by throwing bottles, you make change by voting for Harold Miller for San Francisco mayor in 2015...

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2012/05/01/4455901/1-arrested-in-sf-protest-march....

Posted by GuestSan Francisco mayoral candidate Harold Miller on May. 02, 2012 @ 8:27 am

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