Category Archives: Debunking Politicos Pundits + Spin

Did San Francisco Get Played By Twitter? Did San Francisco Even Care?

So far, the Transactional Politics era that kicked off with the selection of Mayor Ed Lee seems to be up and running. The latest example is the much-hyped tax break given to Twitter (ahem, businesses that locate in mid-Market) announced by Mayor Lee, and Supervisors Chiu and Kim.
This all came about after folks at Twitter suggested they might move to Brisbane (!) if it didn’t get something form the cash-strapped city government. However, skeptics in the business news media wondered aloud if that was ever going to happen, or if it was just a public negotiating tactic.
Now, let’s be clear: I enjoy using Twitter’s services, and have no problem helping startups and the like cut through red tape and start new and innovative businesses. After all, it’s part of what makes living here so much fun, right?
That said, I am surprised, what with all the Ivy League graduates we have serving on the Board and such, it never occurred to anyone to ask a few questions before rushing to the podium and feeding the media a “story” that will end up on some junk mail the people in question will be sending us the next time they run for office. (Now, to be fair, you can read a witty argument in favor of Twitter’s deal at my friend Elaine’s blog, Court and Snark (and I highly suggest you do).)
Here’s a few:
– Twitter’s valuation is on paper only – it is not a public company, nor does it make a profit. There’s no indication that it will even exist in a couple of years, or not. Wouldn’t we have learned from Dot Com Bust I that betting on what Internet company will be around in the future is riskier than betting on a “hard six” at the craps table? (See: FOX purchase of MySpace as an example of how betting on social media companies can work out).
– By their own admission, 25% of Twitter’s employees ride a bike to work. Twitter places a tremendous value on its talented workforce and has always worked to create not just a great product, but a great place to work so they get the best out of their people every day. A move to Brisbane (which is cut off from SF via any decent transit, etc.) would be a significant disruption for these folks, and, well, it’s Brisbane.
I used to work in South San Francisco, and trust me, working in suburbia can really suck if you’re from SF and there’s no decent transit connection. You have to drive to work and spend a lot on commuting, and you’re cut off from anything going on in SF. (That said, when I worked in Lafayette, it wasn’t so bad, just a lonnnnng ride on BART and then a mile walk to the office. Time consuming, but at least no car!)
Part of the allure of locating in a place like San Francisco is that you don’t have far to commute, and you’re still in a vibrant city, not sitting around in some office park where you have to drive 30 minutes to find a decent burrito.
– Also, in this economy, it’s not like office space costs nearly as much as it used to, certainly not like it was back at the peak of Dot Com Bust I. Perhaps Mr. Brown doesn’t realize that the country is in a depression, and it’s not boom times (with lots o’ dollars to give to pals) like back in the day.
These are just a few thoughts. I think, however the lesson that should be learned is that we don’t need Supervisors rushing around, lurching from faux crisis to faux crisis, just to accommodate a few businesses that suggest in public they “might” be moving. As it stands, our City has made it clear that all one has to do is make a threat, and they’ll jump.
A more reasonable response would be to create a better set of regulations that make sense, and make it easy for people to try new ideas and start new businesses with a minimum of NIMBYism and BS in the first place. This way, all thriving businesses, Twitter or not, wouldn’t even think of leaving a place that’s affordable, liveable, and fun to be in, no matter what you do for a living.

How to Read a Campaign Financial Disclosure Statement!

This week, the first campaign finance disclosure reports for Mayoral hopefuls were released. Via SFist and the Examiner, we learned how much each campaign had raised as of December 31, 2010. (If you were on any of these candidates’ mailing lists, you probably got a million emails asking for money up until 11:59pm December 31.)
While these do report how much they raised and spent, they do not necessarily indicate how much money each candidate has on hand as of today. That’s because virtually every campaign engages in a little trick whereby they will defer certain payments (salaries, etc.) from friendly vendors or employees, until after the reporting period. This then allows them to show more money on hand, even though the very next day (January 1) they’ll pay out the money owed to whomever hasn’t been paid yet.
Making this link is almost impossible, since the next reporting period won’t be for several months, and by then, no one will remember this. It’s a neat trick, for sure, but it can also bite a campaign in the backside later on. If in fact a campaign really doesn’t have the money after paying out their debtors, moving forward in 2011 can be tough.
So in the end, these reports don’t mean much if you don’t know if the campaigns are playing the deferred payment game or not. A better way to do reporting would be to have campaigns report daily, their donations and expenditures, and have that information online and printed out and distributed to the public to designated locations daily, or weekly. That ends the deferment game, and the public would be better informed on who is paying for whom in an election season.
Of course, the next step would be to regulate taxpayer funded campaign mail, which we’ll have in 2011 in the Mayor’s race this year, with several candidates likely to take advantage of the program. After all, we’re paying for their propaganda – shouldn’t we at least regulate it in the best interests of the citizens that fund it?

The SF Weekly Calls Out San Francisco’s Do Nothing/Feel Good/Soundbite Politics!

Once again, the only paper that seems willing to call out City Hall politicians of all stripes on their nonsense is in fact, the SF Weekly. They’ve called out the city’s “pay more/get less” governance in the past, did a great piece on Muni (horn tooting time, I co wrote it), SF’s pension crisis, the phony plastic bag ban, and so on.
Today’s target were the do-nothing, feel-good, soundbite politics that politicians here just love to engage in.
That’s because with term limits, they need to be thinking ahead to the next campaign and the next job. What better way to fill the junk mail, online ads, Facebook pages and TV ads with endless streams of feel-good bullsh!t that will make you feel great about voting for them. Unfortunately, they also accomplish absolutely nothing.
Meanwhile your taxes go up, your Muni fares go up while Muni continues to fail, we have a bazillion dollar deficit and big long term problems that no one wants to solve, and the mainstream press is more caught up with the latest horse-trading and political games at City Hall. In the end, it’s the citizen that loses.
When talk of Supervisor Mar’s phony “happy meal” ban started up, I too pointed out what a clusterfuck the school lunch system was under his reign on the school board, and it hasn’t changed much for great majority of SF Unified students to this day. Instead of doing something constructive that would have had an impact when he had the chance, he’s off pulling this crap instead. Meanwhile, I doubt anyone could name a single action he’s taken to do things like say, help all those businesses in the Richmond that are the target of predatory lawsuits. Then again, that wouldn’t play well on TV.
Or does it? Watching Sup. Mar’s cringe-inducing performance on the Daily Show makes you wonder if he really understands much of what he’s doing.
Likewise, I’ve been calling out both the alleged “moderate”* ex Mayor Newsom and so-called “progressive”** Mirkarimi, who have successfully bullsh!tted the entire worldwide media that the City banned plastic bags, when in fact they did not. Either really do it and take on the powers that be, or get off the high horse and admit this was all for headlines.
Until San Francisco voters decide that accomplishing something is more important than flavor of the month press releases, they will continue to get a government that they truly deserve – one that works for special interests, for politicians ,and sends the bill to the citizen and his/her children. Good luck with that.
* The term “moderate” is a meaningless piece of doublespeak that we need to dispense with. It has no inherent meaning, and it is used to cover up policies that are anything but.
** The term “progressive” is a meaningless piece of doublespeak that has no meaning either. In this town, anyone can use it so it has no inherent meaning, and the range of politicians claiming said label renders it useless. Discard, please.

Why “Progressives” Have Proven They’re Not Fit to Govern: Then Again….

Reading the assorted coverage in the press about the so-called “selection process” that the Board of Supervisors has chosen to engage in to choose a successor to “Mayor” Newsom is proof of a few things. First, that so-called “progressives” are simply not qualified to be in charge of things at City Hall, and second, that frankly, NO ONE in the political class is qualified to be in charge of things at City Hall.
At the center of all of this is Board President David Chiu. Now, bear in mind that he’s not qualified for his current job – he is Board President only because of the progressive-on-progressive antagonism that denied it to Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi. Instead, they picked Chiu, who never served on the Board, to run it.
Now he wants to be Mayor, so he’s hoping to delay things by creating a patently bullshit bunch of “rules” that have no basis in reality or the law, to delay things and ensure that he gets the top job once Newsom leaves office.
Think about it: A guy whose big experience was pimping the Christian Right online, among other things, who has never served, and has presided over one of the most unproductive Boards in recent history, content to tilt at windmills while Muni fails, and the City’s finances burn.
Now he wants to be Mayor?
Give me a f*cking break. This long list of bullshit rules he’s invented have no basis in reality – you simply need to have 6 votes to be the Interim Mayor – this nonsense about no texting, being in the room or not, etc. is all a pile of crap, and “Supervisor” Chiu should be embarrassed at these kind of time and tax wasting games.
This, however, has been the hallmark of the So-Called Progressives – they’re all out only for their own personal ambitions, and don’t give a damn about real problems, or even their own gang in politics. Instead they engage in foolish things, or write bad laws that are good for nothing but headline grabbing, and don’t help anyone. The Class of 2008 that got elected largely because it was a big presidential year and many first time voters just voted “Democrat” no matter what, has brought us some of the worst legislation we’ve seen in a while.
Outgoing Sup. Daly might be a pain in the ass, but he did understand his role and how to move legislation, and he’s been calling BS on all of this. These new kids are children who think they’re in pre-school at recess, and not in charge of a city people have to pay taxes and live in.
And now, where I piss off Everyone Else in SF Politics….
That all said, it’s time to face facts: we wouldn’t be in this position if “Mayor” Newsom gave a damn about finishing the job he was hired by the voters to do in the first place. Because he too placed personal ambition above the good of the City, we’re in a situation where no matter what happens, working on SF’s many real problems is going to be tossed by the wayside in favor of bullshit politics. Worse, it’s not like he’s advancing to a real office – he’s going to be Lite Governor – a job with no practical use aside from sitting around waiting for the Governor to die or quit.
We were sold on Gavin Newsom in 2003 as the guy who was going to get things done and be some sort of guy focused on “policy.” Instead we got a rich pretty-boy who was great at press conferences, empty promises, and endless Big Talk, but who as Mayor always catered to public employee unions, enhanced the financial destruction of the Muni system with his dishonest budgeting, and who clearly never really cared much for San Francisco or the people who work hard and pay the taxes that made his stupid gas guzzling SUV possible.
I place the blame for this guy squarely on the people and special interests who backed him, screaming and yelling how if we’d elected that Communist Matt Gonzalez the sky would fall. Well, we didn’t, and guess what? We still had a wasteful Room 200 that was devoted to political games, not getting anything done.
What does this all mean? Well, regardless of what the fools at City Hall do now, or in January, you have a say in who will be in charge in 2011. There are many people already running for office. Here’s a helpful hint: don’t vote based on some bullshit you read in a piece of junk mail, or something the chatterers in the press or online say in the echo chamber of buzzwords.
Scrutinize the Hell out of these people who claim they want to be in charge. Demand they speak up and say what they plan on doing to make things different. Don’t fall for a pretty face or a cute slogan or someone who’s name you’ve heard.
Instead, be very skeptical, and make them earn your vote. The kind of San Francisco you’ll be living in for the next few decades depends on it.

Tired of Dead Tree Political Mail? Tired of Seeing Tax $$$ Go to Shady Political Ads? Here’s a Solution!

IMG_1597.JPGSan Francisco loves to pride itself on being the “leader” on all sorts of issues. Problem is, its “leaders” come up short. We say we ban plastic bags – but we don’t because every liquor store in town is using plastic bags. We claim to be for all sorts of Big Important Non Binding Resolution on Big Issues, but of course, no one’s listening because no one cares.
Today I propose some tough new laws that would make San Francisco in the vanguard of something we can all agree on – the end of that massive flood of dead tree mail full of hysterical BS that infects our mailbox every election year.
One of the main reasons you get so much of this junk is becauseā€¦.you’re paying for it. Yes, that’s right, you the San Francisco taxpayer were funding that flood of crap in your mailbox. That’s because some do-gooders decided it’s better if you pay for it, instead of those mean ol’ “special interests.”
Instead, the mean ol’ special interests go ahead and fund their own campaigns, free of any interference from said candidates. This is better, how?
It’s time for the citizens of San Francisco to ask our leaders to do better, and to set a high standard for taxpayer funded campaigns. That’s why it’s time San Francisco institute strict conditions on the use of tax cash for political communications.
Let’s call it the San Francisco “Truth or Consequences in Taxpayer Financed Political Advertising ” Law. And unlike some non-binding resolution, this will be something that has some consequences. Break the law? You pay the taxpayers back the cash – with interest.
Key Provisions would include:

-Telling the Truth: Any campaign mailer, online ad, TV ad, must file within 24 hours all the research detailing the claims in any ad. Said filing would be posted online within 24 hours for voters to review. If it’s not filed or the campaign is found to be lying, they must refund the taxpayers the cost of said mailer. With interest. (For those that can’t get online, print copies would be made available at all public libraries).
-Carbon Neutral footprint: this means ONLY using post consumer recycled paper, ONLY using organic inks, and all other means including eliminating gas-driven delivery, and so on. If that means direct drops to carriers, well that’s life in the world of climate change, kids. This also means using local printers to do said work, since it’s just San Francisco and it’s not like anyone’s sending mail to Vallejo or Los Angeles, so there’s no reason they can’t print locally at locally owned businesses.
-Tax-financed campaigns would also be required to file daily reports of campaign contributions from private sources. Instead of quarterly reports that are manipulated by campaigns, and making them hard to find online, campaigns would send in a list with copies of all checks (minus information that could lead to fraud) and said information would be posted online, within 24 hours for voter review.
And no one say it can’t be done, this is where Google, eBay, Yahoo, Intel and a whole host of companies come from, so outsource it to someone from the second decade of the 21st century to do it, not some fools at the City who would just boondoggle it.

This is just a rough draft, and certainly not a set in stone policy. Obviously any taxpayer funded TV, radio, robocall or online ad would fall under the same general guidelines, etc. But I don’t think it’s unreasonable for us to ask the “big talkers” to stop talking, and start putting their alleged beliefs into practice.
It is time for us to ask more of those who are using taxpayer money to kill trees and send out political advertising. We’ve had enough of screaming headlines and distortions of facts from the people claiming to be “clean money” candidates. It’s time for them to take the “clean money” – but stop playing dirty with the voters.

If the “Tea Party” Was Truly Hardcore, They’d Make Palin or Beck Speaker…

It’s post election time, and I’m tossing out these Deep Thoughts for fun…let’s see which one wigs people out the most….
It’s assumed that Rep. John Boehner is going to be Speaker of the House under Republican rule. That’s because he’s been the Minority Leader so far, and it’s assumed he’ll be the Speaker.
The thing is, he doesn’t have to be. In fact, if these Tea Party people would read the Constitution they apparently cherish, they’d realize anyone can serve as Speaker, member of Congress or not. They only have to have the same eligibility requirements (naturalized citizen, 25, etc.) It just has to be the vote of the majority of members of Congress.
So if Tea Baggers wanted say, Glenn Beck or Sarah Palin (!) to be their Speaker, if they could convince a majority of their colleagues to do this, well, it’d be perfectly legal. Likely to happen? No. Could it happen? Absolutely.
It’d at least be a chance for these highly paid windbags to actually do something for the country instead of just talking all the time. It’d be interesting to say the least to see them have to give up talk show money, endorsement money, and speaking fees to sit there and figure out House rules to pass bills. But it would also be a chance to see if the Tea Party folks really believe what they say, or if they just wanted the job for the big pay increase and the big staffs and offices.
I’m guessing that these firebrands of the right will be too busy enjoying the perks of office and the benefits of being able to raise Big Money in DC to really care one way or the other, and will be too busy making sure to buy that new house in the DC suburbs. After all, one can’t be living in a shanty when voting against Government Spending, right?

Is This The Election That Ends IRV in San Francisco?

The election results are in and the winners are…..well we don’t know yet. We may not know for several weeks as mail ballots are counted and the tedious so-called Instant Runoff Voting process begins. But we do know this – there are many close elections, but due to the fact we’re not having a runoff, and we’re using IRV, some weird things are happening.
In District 10, we have a situation where the top vote getter on election day got 1200 or so votes and may be on the way to the Board of Supervisors, out of only 10,000 votes cast. (Hey wait, wasn’t IRV supposed to increase turnout?). That’s rather scary – when you consider that others had to get many more votes than that to also serve. We’ll do the IRV counts going through the many, many loser candidates who got a handful of votes, and of course this all assumes people voted “1 2 3” (which they didn’t), and in the end, God knows what the result will be. After a campaign that had a mob of candidates making 1 minute statements into a microphone, the voters really don’t know who or what they’re ending up with.
In District 8, we had higher turnout and a spirited contest between several well-funded campaigns. However, we also had some of the most negative and deceptive campaigning mailers produced (hey wait, wasn’t IRV supposed to make this more “positive?”) and we won’t have a traditional runoff where candidates running such shamelessly negative campaigns would have been held accountable – and we’d have a clear choice and better debates.
And so on. The endless mess in District 6, which featured some of the nastiest campaigning, the shady “independent expenditures” and a distinct lack of disclosure on the part of certain candidates has led to a situation where any candidate elected in the IRV debacle is not going to have a clear mandate, or again, be held accountable to their statements.
Traditional runoff campaigns would provide voters a chance to make their choices clearly and force candidates to be more accountable for their general election campaigns. Also, voters would have had more time to focus on the local elections, free of the distractions of eMeg and Uncle Jerry and the endless list of stupid ballot measures that clutter the ballot in November. Plus, after a Giants season like this, voters would be more likely to pay attention than they could when having Giants Fever in October.
The promises of IRV have not materialized. They have not saved money. They have not rigged the elections for progressives. They have not made the campaigns “more positive.” They have not resulted in more cooperation amongst the candidates. The second and third place endorsements are wankery for political hacks. And more money was spent on elections locally than ever before.
Time to hit the reset button, and take this out-of-town sponsored lab experiment and dump it in the recycle bin of history, kids.

Lies, Damn Lies, and Campaign Mail from “No on G”-A Disinfo Rehab Session With the NJC!

bsflayertwu.jpgOver at my more popular blog, the N Judah Chronicles, I posted a rather lengthy disinfo rehab session about the shamelessly dishonest mail being pumped out by “progressive” political consultant Jim Stearns and the TWU Local 250 A. I’ve already been called a “Nazi” by some anonymous troll who used a fake email address, so Godwin’s Law was invoked literally minutes after posting. A new record.
Prop. G, as you may know, is the Fix Muni Now proposal put on the ballot by Sup. Elsbernd and a measure that I originally opposed, but changed my mind after spending a week or so reading every piece of paper about Muni employment rules, regulations, contracts, etc. when I co-wrote the Muni Death Sprial for the SF Weekly.
Anyway, go check it out. I have to say that among the many violations of the Geneva Convention this election has inflicted on us, the No on G campaign ranks up there with the blatant dishonesty that more well funded campaigns have been pulling this season. It’s even more ironic the consultant doing this also was the consultant on the 2007 Prop. A measure that was supposed to try and help Muni, but was butchered by organized labor before it even got on the ballot. The same consultant that works for all the “progressives.”
Just remember – what a “progressive” doesn’t know about Muni could fill every bus and train and storage facility in the system, and still have plenty left over to fill all those hot air balloons they generate at the Board of Supervisors.

What Could YOU Buy with $119,000,000? Let’s Start Counting The Ways….

It was reported in the news today that Meg Whitman, the rich lady trying to buy her way into the Governor’s (non) mansion in Sacramento, has now spent $119,000,000 on her campaign to date, outspending billionaire Mayor Mike Bloomberg in New York City.
While this has been a great private stimulus for the television stations, radio stations and commercial creators and the junk mail printers, it hasn’t resulted in a landslide of support for Ms. Whitman just yet.
For fun, I was wondering what you could buy for $119,000,000. This was the result from an hour on The Google. Let’s read on and see….and feel free to contribute your own ideas in the comments:
$119,000,000 would fund the “Great Green Wall” that is designed to re-forest North Africa and prevent the spread of desert out there. (by the way, Bill Gates donated the $119,000,000 in this case)
-$119,000,000 would allow you to buy 119,000,000 copies of the Bible, in Kindle format. Or, 19,833,333 copies at 6 bucks a pop in print via (taxes and shipping not included).
-$119,000,000 would also buy you 7,933,333 copies of Atlas Shrugged in paperback format at (about) $15 each.
-$119,000,000 would cover the estimated loss of productivity created by Google’s “Pac Man” logo. Surely you recall this excellent lunch break entertainment, yes?
-$119,000,000 would cover the cost of about 23,800,000 Alice Waters approved “healthy” school lunches. This was calculated by taking the cost the Berkeley Unified School District is spending now at their pilot program ($4.85) and rounding up to $5. Hey, let’s not be cheap-asses – won’t someone please think of the children??
If eating Belgian endive and organic food isn’t your thing, you could buy 39,666,666 McDonalds Happy Meals at $3 each. And don’t forget – that’s still healthier than some of the crap schools serve nowadays.
-$119,000,000 could pay for 1,492 police officers paid at the low end of the San Francisco Police Department’s pay scale (one of the best paid police forces in the United States.) Or, pay ’em half, double the number, and send them to “guard the border” instead? Or, perhaps send them to where crimes are committed, maybe? Hmm?
-$119,000,000 would buy 9916666 doses of the adult influenza vaccine at $12 a dose. Let’s hope that anyone buying that many gets the group discount.
-$119,000,000 would buy 23,800 Glock 17 9mm pistols, presumably for our friends in law enforcement. At about $500 each, that’s not a bad deal. (Although, or the record, I’m not entirely sure if most police officers use a Glock 17 or another model, this is based on some quick Googling).
-$119,000,000 would pay a year’s college costs at a private institution in California for 2,644 students. Or pay for 4047 students at a UC school. Or pay for 5724 students at CSU. (Costs obtained from ). Or forget about tuition, etc. – build a college and call it Meg Whitman University!
-$119,000,000 could buy 1,700,000 “72 hour” disaster relief kits, complete with MREs, water, etc at $70 each. That might be pricey for disaster relief, perhaps? Again, buying in bulk usually gets you a better deal. In a disaster prone state like California, might that buy more goodwill than a bunch of stupid TV ads that ruin football?
Anyway, this was all back-of-the-envelope calculations after about 90 minutes on Google. Got any better ones? Feel free to enter them in the comments below.

Big Corporation Spends Big Bucks for Right Wing Politician: This is News Because…..?

Oh Target. Everyone was atwitterin’ about how the chain store was finally opening one up in San Francisco. Yes, it’s a chain, blah blah blah, but if you’re buying household items and other said necessities, sometimes one doesn’t want to buy an artisan macrame frying pan, they just want to buy one that’s cheap, and not have to go to Colma. It didn’t hurt that Target had a great local PR team to boost its chances, either.
Then the “big news” started to trickle out about Target’s donation to a group backing some right wing guy in Minnesota (home base of Target) running for governor who thinks that all waiters make $100,000 a year, and dislikes gay people. What a surprise! A big company supports a right wing candidate based on their economic views? Shocking. Just shocking.
Naturally, this started a storm of fiery Internet critiques. Newspaper ads appeared, and trusty launched Yet Another Email SPAM Blast begging for money and whatever else it is begs from you, blasting away at the now Evil Target. Predictably, conservative bloggers and talkers rallied to Target’s defense, and engaged in their own brand of self promoting babble. Blah blah blah.
Finally, Target “apologized.” Their first foray in direct corporate funding for political camapigns ended in a bit of a standoff, with no one really “winning” (aside from all those lefty and righty groups, bloggers and whatnots who made a few pennies off the sh*tstorm).
Let’s take a breather from all the hot air, and let’s review a few facts:
– The Awl makes the very obvious-but-not-obvious point that Target’s corporate management and PACs have always supported very conservative candidates for office. That is their right, after all – the leadership of Target is free to support whomever they choose.
Yes, Target does some donations and other things that are GLBT-positive. But that’s not a moral decision – that was a business decision to appeal to the GLBT consumer. Target also makes political donations to conservative politicians – that was a business decision to benefit Target’s bottom line.
That’s perfectly logical to upper management – unfortunately that kind of “having it both ways” doesn’t always play well with the public. Hence the downside of engaging in politics – the Other Sides have the same right to engage in free speech too.
Target has made a priority of expanding into urban markets with smaller stores, similar to the ones proposed in San Francisco. Urban areas tend to have well-organized, vocal GLBT communities, and losing their support because of this latest kerfuffle could cost those urban locations. I’m sure that when whoever is in charge of Giving Target’s Corporate Cash Directly To Campaigns Department made the big donation to that PAC in Minnesota, they figured no one would care outside of MN. A logical assumption, but not necessarily the right one in the Age of The Internet and the Age of Angry Hyper-Partisanship.
Besides, despite all this support for anti-gay candidates, the Human Rights Campaign Fund gives Target (and allied retailer Best Buy) a sparkly 100% rating for being GLBT friendly. Remember that when they come begging for money from you on a street corner next time.
– I don’t know that this whole thing will make a bit of difference in Target’s plans for San Francisco. Despite the alleged liberalism of San Franciscans, they have shown a unique ability to abandon principles in favor of material goods. Target does provide cheap products from China and other necessities people seem to like, hence a lot of Target love in Liberal SF.
When they announced Target’s plans, it was very difficult to find the usual band of NIMBYs and lefties who go to protest rallies speaking out against this particular chain. Then again, San Francisco plants a wet one on Whole Foods every time it opens another store, despite being one of the most obnoxious and overpriced chains in the country, so again, big surprise. The Castro welcomed a Levi’s store (complete with sweatshop made clothes) with open arms, as well. The common thread being that chains that hire the best local PR people tend to get their way, because the local PR people know how to use the Politics of Feelings to keep the local hippies in check.
Target didn’t do anything criminal in donating directly to some right wing group. However, the donation had the net effect of slapping their logo onto a partisan cause for the far right, for all to see. This, at the same time it’s trying to have it both ways with all sorts of marketing to GLBT consumers. Given the bloodbath that is political discourse nowadays, it’s not hard to see why this ended up as a PR FAIL for Target.
People know the Target brand, and it’s easy to see why people might feel a bit put off when they see their favorite store supporting people that think they have no right to exist, at the same time the same company is running around saying it’s pro GLBT. It’s a bit of (oh God not an Orwell reference) doublethink in the classic sense of the word. Makes sense inside the office, but doesn’t play well outside.
As for Target’s plans in SF – bring it on. There’s nothing at the old Sears location on Geary right now anyway, and if moving Target in means keeping some sales tax dollars in SF instead of seeing it all go to Colma, fine. It’s not like some artisan hippie collective is going to be doing anything useful in the space.
If people really dislike Target’s politics, they don’t have to shop there. As for me, I’ve never had any delusions about what big corporate stores are and are not. They are not benevolent charities and paragons of goodliness and socialism, they are in business to make money for shareholders and themselves any way they can. I’ve never thought Target was the former – and I don’t see why anyone else would think so either.
PS: If some corporation decided to pony up the cash for some left wing candidate for Governor (unlikely but hey, this is America), you can bet that the conservatives would be throwing a temper tantrum worse than a spoiled child too. The shoutalot ideologues in our country who make a buck off of antagonism tend to operate in the same way, be they left or right.
UPDATE: It seem the shareholders aren’t too fond of all this hullaballoo. This is no surprise. Corporations are in the business of making money and serving the financial needs of their shareholders. If engaging in any politics (left or right) impedes this, then shareholders will not be pleased.