By Tim Redmond
Sometimes you settle a lawsuit, and sometimes you roll the dice and fight.
Back in 2001, the San Francisco supervisors voted to cough up some $80 million in cash to pay off a group of big corporations that claimed the city's business tax was unconstitutional. It was a close call -- the city attorney warned that if the city fought and lost, the potential liability could have reached $500 million.
There were a few crazy dissenters -- Matt Gonzalez and me, and not a whole lot of others -- who said, in effect, let's take the chance: These assholes wanted to soak the city for a bunch of money at a time when corporate America was rolling in the dough, thanks in part to Bush Administration tax cuts at the federal level. Fuck 'em -- we'll see you in court.
But cooler heads prevailed, and the city settled with all but one of the 52 companies. One holdout -- Macy's (the greedy pricks) -- decided not to accept the settlement and to push the case and squeeze every drop possible out of the taxpayers. Superior Court Judge Richard Kramer ruled in Macy's favor, awarding the company $13 million. It looked as if the supes had done the smart thing settling with everyone else.
And then yesterday, the Court of Appeal overturned Macy's award, saying that the $13 million refund was excessive. The giant retailer -- where I will never again shop, by the way -- gets only pocket change, a few hundred grand.
Of course, the court didn't re-instate the tax; this was only a small part of the case. But still, Macy's lost, big. Makes me wonder what might have happened if we'd never settled with any of the Filthy 52.