Progressives howl as Kim introduces Twitter tax break

Will other companies follow Twitter's successful tax blackmail of the city?

Sup. Jane Kim once again angered her progressive supporters yesterday by introducing legislation to give Twitter a huge corporate tax break, caving in to the company's extortionary threats to leave the city if politicians don't bend to its demands. And with Board President David Chiu co-sponsoring a proposal that came out of the mayor's office, it is all but assured to pass, exacerbating the city's $380 million budget deficit.

Kim's predecessor Chris Daly lit up Facebook condemning the move, quipping that Kim thinks progressive means attending three banquets in one night and offering this assessment, “If you truly care about the people in a community, you would invest directly in them – not in some corporate subsidy.”

Last week, before she had made a decision on the Twitter legislation, Kim even echoed the point, telling me, “My general philosophy is I don't believe in tax breaks or exemptions.” But she acknowledged that it was a difficult decision because “Twitter has made it very clear to me that they will not stay without a payroll tax exemption.”

And now that Twitter was able to make her and other city officials act against their political beliefs and end any illusions that progressives still control the board, the door is wide open for other companies to make similar threats, with San Francisco joining the race to the bottom, competing with other cities for who can give away more public resources to private corporations.

The progressive era at City Hall truly seems to be over.


And Daly needs to realize that it's not his job any more.

Posted by Rick on Feb. 09, 2011 @ 1:57 pm

Last line = best line every from the Bay Guardian.

Posted by Sambo on Feb. 09, 2011 @ 2:13 pm

In addition to tax breaks why doesn't the City provide low cost access to other City infrastructure like power and fiber.

The city has hundreds of miles of fiber that could be used to keep IT companies in SF. The City could be an ISP and provide cheap Internet access for business and residents,

Posted by david on Feb. 09, 2011 @ 2:34 pm

I don't know what Kim is thinking trying to keep jobs and a business in the city at the expense of the progressive ideologies, I mean, is tomorrow still the day after today?

Posted by Patrick Brown on Feb. 09, 2011 @ 2:34 pm

So laments Steven T. Jones.

How did this happen?

Here are the contributing factors:

*Anti-intellectualism and lack of social skills on the part of progressive ideologues, writers, and spokespeople

*Degeneration of progressivism from a congenial popular movement into a doctrinaire sect with a bunker mentality

*Co-option of progressivism by politicians, unions, the nonprofit political complex, and cannabis capitalists

*Widespread drug-dependency and alcohol-dependency on the part of the progressive faithful

*Denial on the part of progressives that the above factors were a problem

The antidotes to the above are these:

*Respect for intellectual diversity and independent thinking

*Affability and openness in dealing with people who are different

*Independence from vested political and economic interests

*Independence from alcohol and drugs

*Frankness in assessing their own condition

What is the likelihood that the above antidotes will come back into favor with progressives?


Posted by Arthur Evans on Feb. 09, 2011 @ 3:06 pm

So then you support corporate tax breaks? What's progressive about that?

Posted by steven on Feb. 09, 2011 @ 3:33 pm

drive successful businesses out of the city?

Posted by Rick on Feb. 09, 2011 @ 4:28 pm

Arthur, you never respond to pointed, factual criticism.

I won't even begin to question your "books".

But I do question your "right" to critique or proclaim anything about a civil tongue, society or anything whatsoever to do with the word "progressive"

You have substantially demonstrated yourself as an un-civil, boorish, testoserone junkie.

Far be it from me to denounce a Stoic as the most irrational, hormone filled junkie in need of internet rehabilitation, but you are the epitome.

Arthur, please, shut the fuck up.


Now take a moment to actually respond with something worthwhile, with your actual decent energy. Something engaging, real, factual, prolific? Or don't, it is entirely up to you.

Posted by Ian Waters on Feb. 10, 2011 @ 12:14 am

Hi. I used to work for the Internet. (I still kind of do.) There have been very, very few Internet companies that haven't proven to be flashes in the pan, luring workers to a location with the promise of huge payouts, lavishing on extraneous extras (very few sourced from local small businesses) with imaginary revenue, and sucking up enormous amounts of resources with absolutely no realistic business plan. Usually they go bust within three years, leaving workers and service providers scrambling, often to the point of bankruptcy. Then the endless litigation begins.

It's difficult for me to name even five well-known, Web-based, non-porn companies with real-world offices that have been profitable for five years running . The fact that the city is gambling out of decade-old Internet Boom excitement on some sort of sustainable trickle-down revenue from a Web company is hilariously sad. How many supes have adjustable rate mortgages, I wonder?

I'm totally fine with the Web's insanely accelerated "business model" -- famous SF-campused companies like Digg and Zynga are at different points of the cycle, for example, yet they both pay payroll taxes, insuring that at least they're contributing to the longterm upkeep of the city while they shoot their wads. I think Twitter just wants to flex its muscle. (Why the hell would Twitter need 350 employees anyway, except out of hubris, one might well ask). But the fact that we're just rolling over like there's been some sort of Boom lesson amnesia is bonkers.

How many times do we need to see these web fads implode before we stop pouring public resources into them? Have the supes seen a longterm revenue strategy, or even evidence that Twitter is actually profitable enough to sustain a campus that large here?  Will we be abe to vote on what to do with Twitter's assets once it begins to fade or is suddenly bought and most likely absorbed elsewhere?

There's a lot of questions to be answered publicly if my tax money is going to cover some "but tech nerds buy a lot of Lucky Charms and Hot Topic so it's good for the local economy" reimbursement scheme.

Posted by marke on Feb. 09, 2011 @ 3:14 pm

I maintain a twitter feed for myself and the grassroots organization I coordinate (neither of which feeds are used more than once a month at best) largely so that when someone asks me that inevitable question 'Are you on Twitter yet?', I can say 'yes' and get them to shut up about it.

The fact that Twitter had to have Gavin Newsom repeatedly pumping them up during Mayoral press conferences and with press availability moments (for which San Francisco taxpayers footed the bill) ought to clarify the very questionable stability of Twitter's business model.

The last thing we should be doing is encouraging tech boom companies to hold us hostage for tax breaks in a race to the bottom similar to that which the film industry is inflicting on North American cities.

This is a recipe for an even deeper budget hole.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Feb. 09, 2011 @ 3:41 pm

Sorry Marke, I know exactly where you're coming from but I disagree on the word "profitable"

It is hard to define profit in the "crazy" world of the internet post bubble.

Facebox is worth trillions (hyperbole) and funded by less than select backers and now is planning on floating on european exchanges because the vcs and heavy holders can't wait to cash out.

Sometimes the narrow definitions of "profit" restrict us all from seeing the bigger (not better) avenues of profitability.

And for what its worth, porn doesn't actually do that well cf. kink's "problems".

Dating and car websites do much better.

Posted by Ian Waters on Feb. 10, 2011 @ 11:50 pm

Not a Supervisor. So why he's worthy of you quoting is really a mystery to me.

But I agree with the other commenters on your article. The last line in the article is the best.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Feb. 09, 2011 @ 6:08 pm

Besides starting a race to a bottom, cutting corporate taxes is the weakest means of encouraging job creation (

It would be interesting to see long-term data on business threats for tax breaks: are they usually hot air?; do they often move anyway even after given the tax break? What hurts us more in the long run, one corp. departing or the continued slashing of our government revenue?

Posted by Guest on Feb. 10, 2011 @ 8:34 am

I'm glad to see that Arthur Evans thinks the progressive movement is failing because of drug and alcohol dependency. Party on, Arthur.

Posted by Tim Redmond on Feb. 10, 2011 @ 10:26 am

Jane Kim needs to be voted off the Progressive Island toot-suite.

She's become on of The Thems. She is not on of The Uses.

Posted by Barton on Feb. 10, 2011 @ 12:34 pm

She's neither better nor worse than most. Her number one priority is promoting the career of Jane Kim, just as the number one priority of the others is to promote their own careers.

This fact became apparent when she shifted from Green to Democrat, after striking all those righteous stances against the Democrats when it was popular to do so.

You see the same phenomenon with Ross Mirkarimi, another typical politician.

This is what happens when a movement gets co-opted by politicians. Eventually, the idealism is lost. The emphasis is put on protecting the turf and career of the co-opting politicians.

SF progressivism will not recover unless it can free itself from the entangling co-option of politicians who use it to further their own political ambitions.

Don't hold your breath.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 10, 2011 @ 3:28 pm

In a post above, Tim you say:

"I'm glad to see that Arthur Evans thinks the progressive movement is failing because of drug and alcohol dependency. Party on, Arthur."

Tim, could you tell us why you think the progressive movement is failing?

* * * *
Technical side-note: I posted a comment above, before this one, and the system attributed it to "Guest," not me. Don't know how that happened.

Posted by Arthur Evans on Feb. 10, 2011 @ 7:41 pm

It was reported that both facebook and Google are making competing bids, as high as $8-10 Billion for the company. Twitter will never see an IPO, so it's obvious that one of these two companies will buy them out. If it's Google, will the city make an attempt to keep them there instead of hauling the twitter operations back to the Googleplex in Mountainview? If facebook grabs 'em, same thing only Menlo Park this time.

Posted by Johnny Venom on Feb. 10, 2011 @ 9:41 pm

What's ironic about the whole thing is that if San Francisco hadn't been so "progressive" in the first place with its anti-business policies, Facebook and Google could very well have been HQ'd in San Francisco to begin with.

Thank god we have a bit less of that "progressive" stench on the Board of Supervisors, and that Jane Kim isn't completely blinded by the haze of the progressive smokescreen.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 18, 2011 @ 4:19 pm

I am progressive and I support Jane Kim. How can she "invest in people?" The city is broke! This move will bring well paid employees to the area, they will shop, buy lunch, etc. and this will bring in sales tax revenue. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results. What has been tried in the past has not worked.

Posted by GuestTami on Feb. 10, 2011 @ 9:54 pm

twitter's a special kind of company. SoMa and the rest of the city benefits from having twitter's workers here..

Posted by Guest on Feb. 11, 2011 @ 12:56 am

Nothing happens if you do nothing. I am glad Jane Kim proposed this legislation - we need these companies here in town. Especially if Mid Market is their location. Change doesnt happen by sitting around - it hasnt happened on a progressive agenda and never will

Posted by Guest on Mar. 01, 2011 @ 6:42 pm

So the city bends over backwards for twitter, only to have twitter become so valuable that they get bought out by some multi national that turns around and consolidates twitter elsewhere, leaving a big expensive hole in mid market! I'm gonna get a bit steamy when I see a twitter employee on an overcrowded muni bus.

Posted by Guestsf24hr on Mar. 31, 2011 @ 5:21 pm

So the city bends over backwards for twitter, only to have twitter become so valuable that they get bought out by some multi national that turns around and consolidates twitter elsewhere, leaving a big expensive hole in mid market! I'm gonna get a bit steamy when I see a twitter employee on an overcrowded muni bus.

Posted by Guestsf24hr on Mar. 31, 2011 @ 5:21 pm