Former San Francisco mayor Willie Brown has looked out his 35th floor window at the St. Regis and decided he doesn't like what he sees. In his latest Willie's World column for the San Francisco Chronicle, Brown admonishes local techies for fueling class warfare in the streets.
Brown argues that the tech sector won't keep benefitting from government perks—i.e. the "Twitter tax break"—if startups alienate all the residents with voting power. That seems like a naive reading on how local politics get funded. However, his suggestion that charity work start in your own back yard is well-timed with the news of food bank shortages in Silicon Valley over the holiday.
There's a war brewing in the streets of San Francisco, and a lot of people could get caught up in it if the tech world doesn't start changing its self-centered culture.
Every day in every way, from rising rents to rising prices at restaurants to its private buses, the tech world is becoming an object of scorn. It's only a matter of time before the techies' youthful lustre fades, and they're seen as just another extension of Wall Street.
And when that happens, tenant advocates, community activists, labor unions and Occupy types are going to start asking why we're giving away the city to all these white-male-dominated businesses that don't even hire locals.
At which point, the politicians will do what they always do - count votes. And by my last count, for all of their hype and money, tech types were still a decidedly small part of the vote. If they even vote at all.
What the tech world needs to do is nip this thorny plant in the bud. They need to come off their high cloud efforts to save Africa or wherever they take adventure vacations and start making things better for folks right here.
They need to start helping in Hunters Point and in Chinatown.
Most of all, they need to start hiring locals.
Otherwise, the next time it comes to a tax measure or a vote at the Planning Commission, they could find themselves getting skinned.
Brown's regular column in the Chronicle forgoes transitions entirely—jumping from thought-to-thought with only a line break in between. While that's great preparation for talking to your relatives on Thanksgiving, that leaves Brown's peacekeeping mission hanging while he meanders over to talk shit about Mayor Ed Lee.
I'm sitting at the Battery the other night next to three women, all of whom were trying to find their husbands. They started talking about a new app that lets them fix on another cell phone and figure out exactly where it is.
Then they demonstrated how it works with each other's phones.
You were saying something about Wall Street in innovator's clothing?
[Image via Getty]