Monday, March 9, 2009

Millionaire Mayor’s Plan to Bail Out San Francisco by Soaking Its Cab Drivers: Part 1.

 San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom who has used his movie star good looks and mastery of misleading sound-bites to become a leading Democratic California gubernatorial candidate, recently tried to fix his city's $600 million deficit by attempting to take 1,500 taxi medallions away from their owner/drivers and sell them at an auction.
  • Saying vaguely that the city "would keep most of the money" from the auction "but some would go to the drivers," Newsom wanted the profits to go toward regulating the taxi industry and helping finance San Francisco's sinking public transportation system.
  • At approximately the same time as he tried to impose a sales tax of 51% to 99% upon cab drivers - one of the lowest paid groups of workers serving the city - he also tried to veto a ballot measure to re-impose a 1.395% Gross Business Tax - which would raise far more money. Newsom, who along with billionaire Gordon Getty owns numerous bars and restaurants that would be affected by the business tax, said that while the proposition "would raise city taxes by tens of millions ... raising taxes does not necessarily raise revenue."
  • The San Francisco Board of Supervisors overrode the Mayor's veto and put the measure on the ballot.
  • Newsom, who has also claimed that the "challenge" for his administration is to save "San Franciscans from losing their jobs, losing their homes and losing their small businesses" would have taken jobs and businesses away from as many as 1,000 cab owner/drivers with his plan. They wouldn't have to worry about losing their homes, however, because very few cab drivers can afford one.
When over 100 angry cab drivers (many of whom were pretty good at sound-bites themselves) showed up at an MTA meeting to protest the plan, Newsom had it withdrawn.

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