The Proposition C campaign just took some interesting, if not altogether unexpected, turns. Just as three major San Francisco political figures announced their opposition to taxing multi-million dollar corporations to fund homeless services, a tech mogul whose company would be subject to it voiced his support.
San Francisco’s latest political spectacle was a headline Mayor London tried unsuccessfully to bury. On Oct. 5, just before a holiday weekend, Breed alongside state Sen. Scott Wiener and Assemblymember David Chiu simultaneously announced their opposition to the local ballot measure which has the endorsement of eight city supervisors as well as broad public support.
Just days later, in a surprising move, Salesforce co-CEO and founder Marc Benioff declared that he is backing Prop. C, amidst headlines criticizing his company for maintaining contracts with Customs and Border Protections, the agency responsible for carrying out Trump’s anti-immigration policies. But what was jaw-dropping about this endorsement was that it came on the heels of a late-night Twitter conversation between the billionaire CEO and local bookstore owner Christin Evans, who was advocating for Prop C, as originally reported by Mission Local.
Benioff’s endorsement stands in sharp contrast to the City’s Chamber of Commerce, a body representing the local business community. The chamber was one of the first organizations coming out against the measure.
The chamber said that the decimal-figure gross receipts tax would force companies to flee San Francisco. In sentiment and language, statements of the three politcos’ disapproval of Prop. C mirror that of the Chamber of Commerce.
Breed cited the ineffectiveness of her own government as a reason to oppose Prop C, claiming the measure doesn’t guarantee accountability of funds and would deplete City coffers of up to $240 million, citing figures from the City’s Chief Economist. Wiener and Chiu said the measure is flawed because the tax is too large and proponents failed to collaborate with area businesses.
But the proposition’s language says that the proposed tax is an average of 0.5 percent that would be levied only on companies’ annual revenues beyond $50 million. It also promises a nine-person review panel to oversee funds.
Benioff, whose cloud computing company is estimated by Forbes to be worth about $8.4 billion and employs some 29,000 people, said that his endorsement comes from just being a good corporate citizen.
“Homelessness is all of our responsibility which is why we are supporting Prop C @OurHomeSF,” he said on Twitter. “Together, as one San Francisco, we can take on our city’s most complex & difficult problems. As SF’s largest employer we recognize we are part of the solution.”
In another development, tech workers who support Prop. C rallied outside the chamber’s Financial District office building the day after Benioff’s announcement.
Miriam Welling, a representative of the Tech Equity Collaborative, said that Prop. C would alleviate the disparity of wealth in the City and stem displacement of low-income community members.
“Prop. C ensures that the huge amount of wealth our industry has created in San Francisco can not just go to minting new millionaires, but to making sure all of our neighbors thrive,” she said to ralliers. “A city that cares about of its residents, and where all can share in the prosperity we’re creating together, is the kind of place we want to work, live, raise families and start companies.”