Buck Tavern Doubles as Anti-Twitter Tax Exemption Headquarters

Written by Luke Thomas. Posted in News, Politics

Published on March 10, 2011 with 7 Comments

A coalition of union leaders, former and current supervisors and activists held an anti-Twitter tax exemption strategy meeting last eve at Buck Tavern. Photo by Luke Thomas.

By Luke Thomas

March 10, 2011

Former District 6 Supervisor Chris Daly’s Buck Tavern bar and grill – soon to be renamed Daly’s Dive – serves up more than a broad range of beers and tasty, hot pub grub, doubling last eve as a makeshift battleground headquarters for a grassroots campaign opposing controversial legislation that aims to gift Twitter, Inc. a payroll tax exemption, to dissuade the social media company from relocating to Brisbane.

The off-the-record confab which barred media coverage, was attended by several well-known figures in San Francisco politics including Supervisor John Avalos, SEIU organizer Gabriel Haaland, attorney David Waggoner, a political consultant, several political activists and Daly.

There are several reasons why the Twitter legislation should be canned, opponents say, not least of which is the city’s $380 million budget deficit.  Such an exemption, if passed by the Board of Supervisors, would relieve Twitter of paying payroll taxes on new employees for six years if the company remains in San Francisco.  Moreover, should Twitter go public, the company is expected to be valued at $10 billion and would likely rake in tens of millions of dollars in annual advertising revenue from its popular messaging service.

Proponents of the legislation, co-sponsored by Board of Supervisors President David Chiu and District 6 Supervisor Jane Kim, argue the corporate welfare perk is intended to spur job creation in a depressed economy as well as to address blight at Market and 9th streets where Twitter plan to move their offices if the deal goes through.  Mid-Market blight was previously defined as occurring between 5th and 7th streets.

But, as has been reported in The Bay Citizen, there’s more to this Twitter deal than meets the eye:

“Alvin Dworman, the owner of a Market Street building proposed as the new headquarters for Twitter, gave sharply discounted office space in the same building to former Mayor Gavin Newsom’s campaign for lieutenant governor — a political contribution valued at more than $11,000, campaign finance records show.

“Weeks after the gift last fall, Newsom officials aided negotiations between Twitter and Dworman by offering the Internet company a payroll tax freeze as an incentive to move into Dworman’s building, a 1 million-square-foot art deco structure at 1355 Market St. once known as the San Francisco Mart.”

Adding more fuel to the fire surrounding the deal, Twitter posted a blog post, March 10, 2009, assuring then Mayor Gavin Newsom Twitter would remain in San Francisco:

“San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom visited our office this morning to have a tour and then talk with us a bit about how Twitter and the city could work together better. It was a great discussion and afterward we assured Mayor Newsom that as Twitter grows we’ll continue to keep our headquarters here in San Francisco.”

Luke Thomas

Luke Thomas

Luke Thomas is a former software developer and computer consultant who proudly hails from London, England. In 2001, Thomas took a yearlong sabbatical to travel and develop a photographic portfolio. Upon his return to the US, Thomas studied photojournalism to pursue a career in journalism. In 2004, Thomas worked for several neighborhood newspapers in San Francisco before accepting a partnership agreement with the SanFranciscoSentinel.com, a news website formerly covering local, state and national politics. In September 2006, Thomas launched FogCityJournal.com. The BBC, CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox News, New York Times, Der Spiegel, San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Magazine, 7x7, San Francisco Examiner, San Francisco Bay Guardian and the San Francisco Weekly, among other publications and news outlets, have published his work. Thomas is a member of the Freelance Unit of the Pacific Media Workers Guild, TNG-CWA Local 39521 and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.

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