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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Mayor, Board President's Payroll Tax Plans are Different; Supes Notified Via Press Release

Posted By on Thu, Feb 12, 2009 at 8:59 AM

It turns out the mayor does have a device for communicating with David Chiu. It's called a press release.
  • It turns out the mayor does have a device for communicating with David Chiu. It's called a press release.

Yesterday we wrote about how Mayor Gavin Newsom announced at the San Francisco Business Times breakfast that he was proposing an overhaul of the city's payroll tax -- which came as news to Board of Supervisors President David Chiu, who had proposed overhauling said tax two weeks ago.

It turns out that the proposals are, indeed, different -- and the mayor's payroll proposition was just one of a raft of "economic stimuli" Newsom trotted out yesterday. Other suggestions actually included "Expanding the city's 'Staycation' holiday marketing campaign." If ever one needed an indicator of how desperate a situation this city and country are in, well, here you are. A mayor who shows up at the office less often than Johnny Carson is urging San Franciscans not to leave the city. Next: Gavin hovers over S.F. diners and cajoles them into eating all their vegetables.

Anyhow, here, in a nutshell, are the outlines of Chiu and Newsom's proposals: Chiu's plan would reduce the payroll tax rate on small businesses while Newsom's would not increase the taxation of a payroll that expanded because of additional local hires.

Keep in mind, that's an exceedingly small nutshell. Chiu's plan is estimated to stimulate local business at a cost of $5 million; Newsom's is too -- but could be more if the economy behaves differently than we're all anticipating. And that occasionally happens. While the two proposals could work in concert, when you take $5 million here and add $5 million there, sooner or later you're talking about real money. And, at some point, the city has to start cutting, unless Newsom wants to take a page from Emperor Norton and start printing his own currency.

Meanwhile, the staffs of several supervisors I called yesterday said they'd heard about the mayor's big proposals at the same time as everyone else via press release.

"It really would have been nice to get a heads-up about this. We just got the release" said Cassandra Costello, a legislative aide to Supervisor Eric Mar, echoing the sentiments of many of her colleagues (and their bosses). By the way, it's always been this way. In the event of a catastrophe, the supes should check their fax machines or inboxes to see if Newsom has opted to evacuate the city. Let us pray the power grid remains intact. 

The so-called "new era of cooperation" regarding the mayor and new board is already being derided cynically here in San Francisco. But at least we were hopeful enough to ponder, for 3.6 seconds, if it was possible.

No one suggested the possibility of a "new era of communication."

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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