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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

S.F. Voters Could Tax Twitter, Other Tech Companies

Posted By on Tue, Jun 28, 2016 at 2:13 PM

  • Davide D'Amico/Flickr
Voters in November will have the chance to declare their love, or lack thereof, for the tech industry – often labeled the sole source of the death of the city’s soul.

Supervisor Eric Mar, with the support of colleague Aaron Peskin, is expected to introduce a ballot measure today at the Board of Supervisors that would, essentially, bring back a tax eliminated by the city five years ago, according to the SF Examiner.

The Fair Share – Homeless and Housing Impact Tech Tax would generate some $120 million a year by imposing a 1.5 percent tax on tech company payrolls. (Recall that the city's controversial "Twitter tax break" was an exemption on the payroll tax available to firms who relocated to Mid-Market, before the city did away with payroll taxes altogether).

And that’s where things get sticky.

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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Report: Bay Area Restaurants Have Worst Racial Income Gap In Country

Posted By on Tue, Jun 21, 2016 at 12:01 PM

  • Flickr/SKohlmann
Beset on all sides by rampant inequality and unaffordability, well-off Bay Area residents can't even escape to a nice restaurant for an escapist meal to forget about it all — because, chances are, the inequality is even worse there. 

The Bay Area's $10.5 billion restaurant industry has the biggest "race-pay gap" in the United States, according to a study released Monday by the Restaurant Opportunities Center, a restaurant industry workers' rights advocacy group.

On average, white workers in Bay Area restaurants make $6.12 an hour more than workers of color, and men in fine dining make $3.12 more an hour than women, according to the report, which surveyed 525 workers and interviewed 41 workers and 25 restaurant employers. 

That's on top of the "usual" Upstairs/Downstairs situations in most restaurants, where the people of color toil in back of the house positions and the white folk smile at you on the way in.

This may surprise you, given that the Bay Area's high minimum wage, mandatory sick days, and other worker-friendly benefits have made this one of the hardest places to try to run a restaurant. 

But wouldn't you know? It get worse.

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Thursday, June 2, 2016

Millennial Problems: Cash to (Literally) Burn

Posted By on Thu, Jun 2, 2016 at 11:54 AM

This is a real app. - COURTESY/BURN MONEY
  • Courtesy/Burn Money
  • This is a real app.
Apps are important. Sleeping, eating, using the bathroom, and updating your status are all improved with an app. That’s why we here at Millennial Problems are launching a sometime-series dedicated to these vital ingredients of our constant quests for instant gratification. 

First up is something from the UK, which already makes it suspect.

The App: Burn Money
Cost: Free to download, in-app purchases
Availability: Android and iOS

Here’s how Burn Money works, per the app: “Burn a dollar bill / Feel the adrenaline rush / share the official certificate.”

By share the certificate, they mean post a photo or video with an inset video showing a bill burning up in about 30 seconds. Oh, and you have to pay to the app the real dollar amount that you’re “virtually” burning — a fact , according to the app’s creators, that’s lost on many young millennials in the U.S. whose parents are finding out they’ve literally paid to let their kids burn money.

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Monday, May 23, 2016

What Bubble? S.F. Employment is at Record Levels (As Workforce Shrinks)

Posted By on Mon, May 23, 2016 at 12:44 PM


Sanguine news today from the state Employment Development Department. Employment — as in the opposite of unemployment, which is a bad thing — in San Francisco is at a 16-year high, and the city is closer to full employment today than at any other time since 2000. Which are good things.

The city's unemployment rate is 3.1 percent, according to the EDD. A great thing, even, as that low figure ties San Francisco with Marin County for the lowest unemployment rates in California.

Politicians are, predictably, celebrating. "We are experiencing a tremendous economic recovery from our unrelenting focus on putting people back to work and bringing opportunity and hope back," Mayor Ed Lee said in a statement. (Lee noted that unemployment was in double digits when he took office five years ago.)

What's not to love? Pessimists and pejorists, rejoice: for every job San Francisco added, two people left the workforce, according to EDD data.

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Monday, May 9, 2016

Report: Super Bowl 50 Netted City a Whopping $792,000

Posted By on Mon, May 9, 2016 at 12:33 PM


Remember Super Bowl 50? The world's best-marketed sporting event — the few hours of football squeezed around the most expensive commercial messaging in America — brought 1.1 million strangers to San Francisco, shut downtown streets for about a month, and led to an awful lot of kvetching. 

The Super Bowl also brought in some money to the city and county of San Francisco: after hotel and sales taxes were computed, and after the cost to police, traffic managers, and other city services were deducted, the Super Bowl netted us $792,000, to be exact, according to a City Controller report released today.

That's good news, in a way — at least the city didn't lose money. But that's also not exactly a financial windfall — and it would appear to be well below the promises that the city would "reap millions of dollars" made by the Super Bowl Host Committee as recently as January. 

The game's critics on the Board of Supervisors, at least, are leaping upon this as a prime "I told you so" moment.

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Monday, April 25, 2016

Tony Robbins is the Bay Area's Super Angel

Posted By on Mon, Apr 25, 2016 at 12:06 PM

  • Brian Solis/Flickr

In tech, angels are people with deep pockets who fund startups. In the real world, people who do actual good with their money often receive the same heavenly moniker.

With nothing more than a checkbook and a good heart, motivational speaker Tony Robbins — who made a name for himself, along with tens of millions of dollars, trying to help people better themselves — came to the aid last week of another Bay Area resident facing eviction.

This time it was Georgia Rothrock, an 85-year-old Burlingame resident. Last month it was two French nuns who run a soup kitchen to feed homeless people.

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Monday, March 21, 2016

Unreleased Google Glass For Sale at S.F. Pawnshop

Posted By on Mon, Mar 21, 2016 at 12:11 PM

click image Yours for $9,100 (and up). - EBAY/AZPAWNBROKER
  • Ebay/azpawnbroker
  • Yours for $9,100 (and up).

The Internet is going nuts today over an eBay listing. But it’s not just any eBay listing: it's a listing offering up an alleged Google Glass wearable computer — one that never hit the consumer market during Glass's short-lived control over our lives, which certainly should not be up for auction on eBay at this time. (That noise you just heard was a shot glass breaking at Molotov’s, ostensibly falling through the sweaty palms of Google god Sergey Brin.)

While others geek out over the actual technology at hand, it’s worth taking a close look at the listing itself. First of all, it has no reserve price and it’s been bid up by thousands of dollars already after starting at $299 on Friday evening. One eBay user apparently had second thoughts after offering $20,000 for it Saturday afternoon, retracting the bid about 80 minutes later.

The item is used, although the seller makes no mention of its origins. The seller is a high-rated eBay user named azpawnbroker, which is indeed the A to Z Pawnbrokers that have multiple Bay Area locations (the last A to Z location in San Francisco, at 2050 Mission, is still a pawn shop but not an A to Z, according to listings).

A rep contacted by The Verge would not talk about how the shop acquired the device.

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Friday, March 4, 2016

UPDATED: Another Uber Driver Awarded Unemployment Benefits

Posted By on Fri, Mar 4, 2016 at 1:17 PM

  • Flickr/Jason Tester
This post has been updated. 

A former Uber driver from the San Diego area has successfully applied for unemployment benefits with the state of California, SF Weekly has learned.

The case of driver Patrick Ely appears to be the first known instance in which the is one of a few known examples in which the Employment Development Department recognized an Uber driver as an employee (independent contractors do not receive unemployment benefits), and has potential ramifications for an upcoming trial over whether the $65 billion company's driver "partners" are employees or independent contractors.

And ahead of the landmark trial, scheduled to start in June, the state appears prepared to classify more Uber drivers as employees. When Ely filed for unemployment, the EDD gave him a questionnaire tailored specifically to Uber drivers, a copy of which was provided to SF Weekly.

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Thursday, February 18, 2016

Millennial Problems: SF Millennials Pay Highest Taxes, But Make Top Dollar

Posted By on Thu, Feb 18, 2016 at 1:05 PM

Checking my balance... and it's good. - FLICKR/ADAM FAGEN
  • Flickr/Adam Fagen
  • Checking my balance... and it's good.

Right around the time the latest tech-guy-notices-SF's-homeless rant was posted online and caused the predictable stir, a big-data translator was publishing a report about the other key issue facing San Francisco: millennials and their income taxes.

In both instances, nothing was too surprising, although tech bro Justin Keller is actually defending himself instead of trying to delete or walk back his post. Except there is something interesting in the tax numbers. One figure in particular might give some credence to the belief that moneyed youngsters are invading San Francisco, displacing their elders over 30, and jacking up the cost of everything.

Earlier today, the SF Business Times reported that the Smart Assets study, released Tuesday, concluded that millennials in SF pay the highest taxes of any millennials anywhere in the country. That’s not at all surprising when you consider that these folks are faced with one of the highest marginal tax rates of any state (9.3 percent in California, according to the report) on top of San Francisco’s own 1.5 percent income tax and the sticky fingers of the federal government.

But just like trips to Coachella and $15 cups of coffee, our millennials can afford it.

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Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Super Bill: S.F. On Hook For $4.8 Million in Super Bowl Costs; NFL To Pay Nothing

Posted By on Tue, Jan 19, 2016 at 12:36 PM

  • SF Weekly photo illustration/stock art
  • Down the super money pit.

San Francisco is rich, yet San Francisco is broke. The capital city for American tech barons boasts a budget bigger than some Western European countries, but is short a projected $100 million for the next fiscal year.

And the Super Bowl is not helping. San Francisco will host the festivities leading up to the National Football League's biggest game on Feb. 7. And as of now, the city is in the red for the pleasure.

Hosting the non-game will cost San Francisco $4.8 million, according to a recent city Budget Analysts' report, and the Super Bowl Host Committee has agreed to cough up only $104,000 to help foot the bill. (The NFL, for its part, has pledged exactly zero.)

In stark contrast, Santa Clara, which will host the actual game at the 49ers' new $1.3 billion Levi's Stadium, will have its $3.5 million bill for hosting the game fully compensated by the Super Bowl Host Committee.

This equates to a public "subsidy" for the NFL, according to the report. That's rubbing several supervisors the wrong way, who are demanding that the Host Committee pony up now, up front — and who are prepared to flex their lawmaking muscle to ensure it happens.

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