"Ten more Ron Conways" would destroy San Francisco

Ron Conway, who we profiled, has an aggressive, conservative agenda for the city.

As I reported in this week's cover story, San Francisco has lost its balance under Mayor Ed Lee, with economic development pushing sustainability – both environmental and economic, as shown by rising rents and costs of living – onto the back burner. And in today's New York Times, Lee reinforces the idea that corporate titans should dictate what kind of city this becomes.

In profile of venture capitalist Ron Conway, who is heavily invested in tech companies and Lee's political campaigns, Lee said that Conway – a longtime Republican ideologue with an open grudge against progressives, as we revealed in a December cover story – is someone “whose values benefit the city” and said that “Ten more Ron Conways would be helpful.”

That's really an astonishing statement given the pro-corporate, self-dealing nastiness that just one rich Conway has injected into San Francisco politics over the last couple years. In the article, Conway himself dismisses all values beyond creating tech jobs, including the displacement and gentrification caused by the monomaniacal focus on promoting technological companies, for which he proudly says, “You need a catalyst, so I'm a catalyst.”

He also does little to disguise the libertarian groupthink that seems to guide his bubble-inflated industry, telling the Times, “The tech community is a closely knit group, which is why it’s so powerful. All of these companies have an affinity for each other, even if they compete with each other.”

Yes, they all want tax breaks, which is what Lee has been giving them, over and over again, by waiving payroll taxes on new hires in the mid-Market area around Twitter, exempting stock options for local taxes (undoing an initiative by his predecessor, Gavin Newsom, who was definitely no foe of corporate America), and doing a business tax reform that cut taxes on tech companies.

How much more do they really want? Are we really going to simply put local government completely into the service of a handful of already wealthy technology investors, who are the real beneficiaries of Lee's taxpayer-subsidized largesse?

If we had 10 more Conways pushing this right-wing agenda with the billions of dollars they've amassed during this modern Gilded Age, I don't think San Francisco continue to be open to this city's tenants, small businesses, artists, and the vast majority of its workers, whose per capital income of $46,777 is almost barely enough to survive.

Attention, Mr. Mayor, this is a big city with lots of interests and needs. It's time to pull your head out of this bubble and pay attention to the vast majority of this city's residents, whose interests Ron Conway doesn't share or even acknowledge.


A widely reported $100,000 from Conway allegedly made in June of last year to the SF police department, was never received by the cops from either Conway or sf.citi. I've reported on the disappearing six figure gift here, after receiving several emails from the cops saying the money never reached them:


Here's how the Chron's Heather Knight reported that alleged $100,000 gift last in the Chronicle last August:

"Police Chief Greg Suhr couldn't be happier that his longtime friend [Conway] is sprinkling some fairy dust on the notoriously Luddite Police Department. In June, Sf.citi donated $100,000, and Hewlett-Packard donated 60 laptops so officers can connect to the department's crime-data warehouse from the field."

Oh, and those laptops were not a gift, but classified as a grant by the cops, according to emails they sent me this week:


Finally, after my questioning the cops for the past two weeks about Conway's donations, alleged and real, the cops have decided to create a gifts disclosure page:


The Guardian may want to follow up on my digging, find out what happened to those laptops, why the Chronicle and others reported a six figure donation that never materialized and why the cops are not yet adhering to all sunshine disclosure laws.

Posted by MPetrelis on Apr. 19, 2013 @ 1:08 pm

And those meetings whose location and timing is inconvenient for you?

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Apr. 19, 2013 @ 4:30 pm

Exactly what is 'astonishing' about Mayor Lee endorsing the values of Ron Conway?

This is a democracy. We had an election. Lee was very clear about his values. The voters supported it big time. And two recent independent polls put Lee's approval rating at 60%.

We don't have a political system where the values of the SFBG are followed over the wishes of the electorate. Sorry.

Both Tim and Steve like to b*tch about the Twitter tax deal but if you read the accounts written by honest journalists, Bloomberg was one example, Twitter was gone. They outgrew their office and they were competing heavily with companies like Facebook that didn't have to deal with the San Francisco tax system. They were out of here, until Lee and some others created a compromise. Steven and Tim would like to have it both ways, but luckily the grownups were in charge.

Ron Conway has done a lot for the city. SF.citi works with local schools to align curriculums with tech companies to graduate students ready for high paying jobs (that must really sicken the SFBG). And SF.citi is a key supported of Project Homeless Connect.

Posted by Troll on Apr. 19, 2013 @ 1:56 pm

Since you're constantly mentioning Lee's electoral victory (like the taxpayer-paid flak you are, Tony), let's just examine that for a moment. Yes, after 12 rounds of RCV elimination, Lee ended up with 60 percent of the vote to John Avalos' 40 percent. But on the first round, less than 60,000 voters (30 percent of voters) supported Lee and his agenda, which was more than 10,000 fewer supporters than Ross Mirkarimi had in his first round.

Since then, rents, evictions, and the cost of living in San Francisco have shot up, the America's Cup deal Lee backed has been exposed a deceitful real estate scam that will cost the city millions rather than helping it, Lee got played by CPMC as his bad hospital deal fell apart, the Treasure Island and Hunters Point redevelopment deals collapsed, the 49ers finally decided to leave town, he wasted $2 million and months of time on his failed and incurious effort to remove Mirkarimi, his political appointees lost their elections, he sold out restaurant employees and diners on fake health care surcharges, he worked with PG&E to undermine the city's only plan to build renewable energy projects, and he waffled and failed to provide any leadership on controversial issues ranging from condo conversion to Airbnb's tax dodging to pay equity issues. He has proved to be a corporate shill and typically vacuous politician, and I see no reason to believe that he would even keep the support of those 60,000 voters, let alone expanding his support.

Posted by steven on Apr. 19, 2013 @ 3:44 pm

So let me make sure that I understand this, because I had thought that Steven was a supporter of Ranked Choice Voting.

Lee won the final, official tally with almost 60% of the vote.

And now Steven is saying that the final RCV tally has somehow distorted voter sentiment. In Lee's favor.

So, for the record, does RCV work?

Or does it only work when it produces a result that Steven Jones likes? And when someone like Lee wins it distorts true voter sentiment?

Steven, I noticed that you compared Lee's total to Mirkarimi's, which was an entirely different election.

Wouldn't it make more sense to compare it to Avalos, who ran in the same election as Lee?

Oh, never mind...that would work against you. Better to make something up.

Yes, good luck with the continued progress of your vision for the city. The fact that Lee does things that you don't agree with surely proves that he will lose support!!!!

Posted by Troll on Apr. 19, 2013 @ 4:34 pm

Lee didn't just beat Avalos 3 to 2, he beat a whole field of experienced contenders. And he did that simply by saying he was pro-growth, pro-jobs, pro-business, pro-development and, if the voters want that, vote for Ed.

They did and so it is disingenuous for Steven to now claim that Lee does not have a mandate just because RCV will, in a large field, inevitably mean that nobody gets over 50% in the first round. The real point is that Lee was always miles ahead and he received a compelling mandate from the people.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 20, 2013 @ 4:56 am

Ranked Choice Voting was debated in the BOS last year, after the Lee election where, according to Steven, it falsely inflated the level of support for the winning candidate.

Yet Steven strongly argued in favor of maintaining RCV, despite the fact that it does not accurately reflect the will and support of the electorate.

I'm not actually sure if it is hypocrisy or stupidity. In any event, just remember that Steven is a 'journalist'. Yup.

Posted by Troll on Apr. 20, 2013 @ 6:05 am

I feel pretty safe in guessing what Steven actually said: Lee didn't get even close to a landslide because of the "exhausted ballots" which are a product of S.F.'s incompletely implemented RCV system.

If the instant run-off voting system had slots for every candidate, then many thousands of voters who voted for neither Avalos or Lee would have had a chance to register their preference between the men.

That would not have changed the election result, but would have rendered it more accurately.

I'm not actually sure if Troll's twisted rhetoric stems from stupidity or hypocrisy... but then again, who cares?

Posted by lillipublicans on Apr. 20, 2013 @ 7:38 am

Lilli blithered:

"I feel pretty safe in guessing what Steven actually said: Lee didn't get even close to a landslide because of the "exhausted ballots" which are a product of S.F.'s incompletely implemented RCV system."

Um...no. What Steven said is written in a comment on this page. Now, Lilli, if you see anything about "exhausted ballots" in Steven's comment then you should take it to your minders ASAP so that they can work on it with you.

Posted by Troll on Apr. 20, 2013 @ 7:55 am

"... Lee ended up with 60 percent of the vote to John Avalos' 40 percent. But on the first round, less than 60,000 voters (30 percent of voters) supported Lee and his agenda, which was more than 10,000 fewer supporters than Ross Mirkarimi had in his first round."

The implication -- which, of course, will tend to escape notice by the simple-minded and intentionally deceptive Troll -- is that people were disenfranchised by the limit of three on how many candidates they could list in order of preference under the current incomplete implementation of RCV.

No, it would not have changed the election, but it would have made the result more meaningful on the periphery.

And Steven exhibits what I've got to say seems like foolishness in quoting troll talk by saying "Lee ended up with 60 percent."

Steven: Lee *DID* *NOT* *GET* *60* *PERCENT*, damn it. If you find yourself quoting troll talk in the future, stifle yourself. Okay?

Posted by lillipublicans on Apr. 20, 2013 @ 10:28 am

the eventual winner will feel "disenfranchised" simply because their guy did not wind.

RCV gives you three choices, and if none of your three choices are popular, then your vote probably should not count because you were too far out of touch with the majority.

Lee won easily and handsomely any which way you look at it, and there is no voting system that could possibly have elected anyone but Lee.

Accepting that would be a good first step. You wanted RCV - now live with it.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 20, 2013 @ 12:27 pm

"Lee won easily and handsomely any which way you look at it, and there is no voting system that could possibly have elected anyone but Lee."

Wow. Hilarious. LOL.

As Lee-bots are you and that other know-nothing troll paid per the hour or are you salaried?

In your world: up is down, peace is war, left is right, bitter is sweet and bad is good.

If my candidate only received 30% in the first round and it took him/her twelve rounds to get to just 59%, I would say about my candidate: NO MANDATE. You were barely elected. Nothing to celebrate. But of course you gush over the most minimal amounts and try to twist them into something that they're not.

I DID NOT vote for Ávalos. Read that again so you don't bust a gut in your rush to scream another post about "if Ávalos...."

By comparison, it only took 5 rounds for London Breed to be elected in D5 last November.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 20, 2013 @ 3:00 pm

What are you getting so upset about? Nobody is arguing with you. The official, final tally showed that Lee won with 59.64% of the vote, which shows, as you state that he was barely elected.

And even in that first round, Lee only got 60% more votes than any other candidate. He barely got more votes than the second and third place finishers, combined.

The number of candidates running in an RCV race has NO effect on the number of rounds that it will take to eliminate them all. None!!!!!! You are again, with your great wisdom, correct!

San Francisco needs people like you to go on believing that. For the good of the city. So, thanks.

Posted by Troll on Apr. 20, 2013 @ 4:55 pm

Yes, Lee won the election, as you've been crowing about ever since, as if it is the only fact that matters in governing San Francisco. But a lot has happened since then. I made a short list that you have yet to address. But this post was really more about Conway than Lee, and there's absolutely no evidence that most San Franciscans want more rich right-wing ideologues buying our elections, as Lee seems to want.

Posted by steven on Apr. 22, 2013 @ 9:41 am

>" there's absolutely no evidence that most San Franciscans want more rich right-wing ideologues buying our elections, as Lee seems to want."

Laughable hyperbole aside, there is indeed evidence that Lee continues to enjoy strong support. Two recent polls put his approval rating at over 60%.

OK, one was commissioned by the CofC so lets completely throw that one out. But KPIX commissioned a poll that came up with exactly the same number as the CofC:


Actually, I think that you are the one who has no evidence to support his position.

I personally didn't respond to your 'list' because it is full of typical nonsense.

The America's Cup hasn't happened yet but the potential downside ranges from $3 to $16 million. Meanwhile, even John Avalos admits that it will bring a huge benefit to the local economy. Chiu said that it would be a great deal even with a hit to the general fund.

Lee is responsible for losing the 49ers? Everyone knows that they were 95% gone before he took office. And also, the city didn't 'lose' the 49ers any more than New York lost the Jets and Giants, Detroit lost the Lions or Dallas lost the Cowboys.

You expect people to take you seriously after you say things like that?

BTW, you mentioned the renewable energy plan, a great progressive victory. Congratulations. How is that working out in actuality? Haven't heard much about it from the SFBG lately.

And Mirkarimi? 7 of 11 Supervisors agreed with him, including Mar and Chiu.

And AirBNB...okay...now I can't help from laughing, which is impolite. So I'll stop.

Posted by Troll on Apr. 22, 2013 @ 11:04 am


Posted by grannygear on Apr. 24, 2013 @ 10:41 am

Everybody, please. Stop saying that Ed Lee got 60% of the vote. It freaks Lilli out and he doesn't need that.

He got 59.64% of the vote. So use enough decimal points so that you don't say 60%. It probably sets Lilli's treatment back every time one of us does that.

Some of you might be confused because it is Lee's current APPROVAL rating that is over 60%. But Mr. Lilli is right, he got 59.64% of the actual vote.

Posted by Troll on Apr. 20, 2013 @ 5:04 pm

Sixty is the cut-off for -- at the greatest stretch -- calling an election a "landslide."

Lee did not enjoy a "landslide" victory, and the fact that many exhausted ballots were cast renders the result less than definitive in any case.

anon/Guest claims that RCV is fine the way it is because so many ballots can be thrown out, but of course the troll doesn't want RCV and therefore does not want it to be brought up to the standard set by the voter intent in passing it.

The time when the department of elections gets their act together to fully implement the RCV system cannot come soon enough.

As for polls, all the high-approval polls on Lee have been discredited in one way or another. It is highly doubtful that his approval is at 60% right now. He's alienated many voters; who have seen that he is not the independent "moderate" that they thought they were supporting.

That fact must really bug the anon/Guest/Troll thing which is why these comment pages are so full of prattle about Lee landslide and Lee approval ratings.

Posted by lillipublicans on Apr. 20, 2013 @ 5:38 pm

easily and was way ahead at all stages of the election. The fact that you do not like the result is irrelevant, because what matters is what most voters think and want.

And Lee's win was hardly unusual. Before Lee we had other moderate mayors with easy wins - Newson, Brown, Jordan etc. Like it or not, this is a moderate town. That's why we have all those high-rise offices and condo's downtown - because your side always loses.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 20, 2013 @ 9:44 pm

Well said Steven.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 20, 2013 @ 3:41 pm

This of course begs the question of whether SF is better off giving in to the extortion of tech companies instead of panicking over fear that they may be "gone." Is it really good for the local economy to subsidize private for-profit companies that can't or won't make a go of it without paying their taxes like everybody else?

Posted by Guest on Apr. 23, 2013 @ 3:18 pm

And so what if SF Citi supports Project Homeless Connect? The best way to end homelessness is with affordable housing, not sporadic show events. The gentrification of Mid-Market will displace housed people into homelessness, and makes it harder and harder for non-profit organizations to survive. No number of Project Homeless Connect days can erase that.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 23, 2013 @ 3:28 pm

We should shutter both Homeless Connect and the nonprofits and simply cut the equivalent amount of money in checks to the poor.

Posted by marcos on Apr. 23, 2013 @ 4:34 pm

You say Lee was very clear about his values? NOT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! He lied to us an =d promised to be only an interim mayor, that he would NOT run!

This is another Willie Brown administration evidenced by the number of new cranes I see out my window every day, a window I am grateful to have, but who knows for how much longer?

Posted by grannygear on Apr. 24, 2013 @ 10:38 am

I was hoping you would have at least a couple concrete points here. You've made no argument, no recommendation, and come to no conclusion. You've taken a herd mentality of pointing a finger at business and what's clearly the other side of the aisle from your own view. You sound upset that high quality jobs are coming to downtrodden areas of the city..... yeah...... real progressive, well done.

Posted by Spencer on Apr. 19, 2013 @ 2:15 pm

How long have you been with the Chamber of Commerce?

Of course much of what you wrote as criticism could be said about your own comment. All you did was to whine about Steven. (Look up hypocrisy when you a chance).

yeah...... real conservative (pretending to be "moderate"), well done.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 20, 2013 @ 9:31 pm

Yeah, and those "high-quality jobs" are pushing out long term resident renters who cannot afford the new rents that are a product of these "jobs."

Posted by grannygear on Apr. 24, 2013 @ 10:40 am

Thank you for the article.

Also, that piece of right-wing work was the first to contribute to the draconian sit-lie proposition which criminalizes homelessness:

Article Title: Pacific Heights Moguls Fund Sit/Lie

excerpt: "Ronald C. Conway, a managing partner of Angel Investors LP, was the first to donate to the campaign. In total, he has given $35,000 — the largest contribution from any donor — to the Coalition for Civil Sidewalks [sic], which is pushing for passage of Mayor Gavin Newsom’s ordinance to ban sitting or lying down on city sidewalks. Conway, known as the “Godfather of Silicon Valley,” was an early investor in Google and PayPal and serves on advisory boards for Twitter, Facebook and Digg, according to Bloomberg Businessweek."

Posted by Guest on Apr. 19, 2013 @ 2:25 pm

One of the know-nothing, Lee-bot trolls wrote: "This is a democracy."

Wrong. This is a democratic republic. Not a democracy. That is supposed to be the case in a legal sense.

But what we really have is corporate fascism where the corporations run the government through the politicians they lobby and bribe (think $$ and "gifts"). Thorough corruption.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 19, 2013 @ 2:47 pm

One of the Lee-bots wrote:

"Lee was very clear about his values. The voters supported it big time."

You are a chronic liar.

30% is not "supported it big time." Your savior Lee got only 30% in the first round. It took your messiah t-w-e-l-v-e (12) rounds to get to 59%. They are the facts (which mean nothing to you). If "voters supported it big time" your savior would have received 59% in the FIRST round regardless of the number of candidates.

Why are the Lee-bots still campaigning for their messiah? The election is long over. Are they really that insecure with themselves and their messiah that they feel the need to continue to campaign?

Posted by Guest on Apr. 19, 2013 @ 3:03 pm

Once people realise both that they are telling lies and the reason why, the effect is quite different from what the trolls intend: they are almost pathetic.

Posted by lillipublicans on Apr. 20, 2013 @ 5:45 pm

I think at last count your pathetic list was up to #17.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Apr. 20, 2013 @ 6:54 pm

But in the end he is always on the losing side and his opinions are quite irrelevant. Even in a liberal city like SF, armchair extremists like him make no difference.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 20, 2013 @ 9:45 pm

Bring back the recession!

Posted by Guest on Apr. 19, 2013 @ 3:21 pm

OK, guest, you're right. Lee didn't win the election with almost 60% of the vote. And he doesn't have any popular support.

Yes, I am a chronic liar. None of what I said happened. Keep on believing what you do.

And continued good luck to you!

Posted by Troll on Apr. 19, 2013 @ 3:23 pm

"As I said earlier" and then fill my bibliography with older papers and statements I have made.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Apr. 19, 2013 @ 4:16 pm

illegitimate. Republicans used the same logic during all 8 years of Bill Clinton's presidency ("he never got a majority of the vote!") and now during Obama's ("illegal immigrants voted and Black Panthers scared away white voters!"). Democrats did the same to Bush ("the Supreme Court put him in office and then 9/11 got him reelected!") It's a tired old playbook but it helps the losers feel slightly better about - being losers.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Apr. 20, 2013 @ 4:23 pm

...the Supreme Court DID put Bush into office and he used post-9/11 fearmongering with a soupcon of homophobia to get reelected.

Posted by Hortencia on Apr. 23, 2013 @ 10:11 am

the SCOTUS decision was moot anyway.

Jeez, why are you liberals always such bad losers? Can't you accept that some times (most of the time, in fact) you lose?

Posted by Guest on Apr. 23, 2013 @ 10:39 am


Posted by grannygear on Apr. 24, 2013 @ 10:41 am

Lee is as bad as Willie Brown. Same game different time. He needs to go!

Posted by Guest on Apr. 20, 2013 @ 5:22 pm

You may not like them, but most voters do.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 20, 2013 @ 9:46 pm

Brown would never have won reelection if he had not been termed out after his unpopularity cost him the Board of Supervisors for the last two years of his second term.

Posted by marcos on Apr. 22, 2013 @ 8:46 am

Nice work by the author of this!

Posted by http://essaycapital.com/ on Apr. 22, 2013 @ 8:32 am

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