It seems the San Francisco Bay Guardian can’t stop fostering falsehoods about Jane Kim, the progressive Asian-American District 6 candidate they did everything in their power to defeat. The latest is Guardian City Editor Steve Jones’ claim that Willie Brown was part of the “insider deal making” that would result in the most important economic revitalization measure ever directed toward Mid-Market and the Uptown Tenderloin. What a lie. I was involved with this legislation from the earliest stages with the Mayor’s Office, and Willie Brown had nothing to do with it. The Guardian also claims the legislation is designed to “help a well-connected landlord.” Another falsehood. The truth: last November, Kim beat the Guardian’s favored candidate by 9%, and Chris Daly’s candidate (whose signs trumpeted Daly’s endorsement) by an even greater margin. In continually bashing Supervisor Kim, it’s the Guardian and Daly that are out of touch with the district’s progressive voters.

I try not to respond to Steve Jones’ relentless attacks on Jane Kim to avoid calling attention to his nonsense. But he continues to spread such obvious lies about Kim that the record must be set straight.

Willie Brown’s Non-Role

As I wrote earlier this week, this long-needed economic revitalization strategy for the central city was sparked by Twitter’s interest in moving to 9th and Market. Although Jane Kim, David Chiu and Mayor Lee put the legislation together, Jones instead sees Willie Brown’s hands all over this, stating “the building is owned by millionaire developer Alvin Dworman, founder of the ADCO Group and someone who has had a 30-plus-year friendship with Brown, who sang Dworman's praises in this 2007 article from the San Francisco Business Times discussing this property and others. The property is also operated by Linda Corso, longtime partner of Warren Hinckle, a local media figure with close ties to Brown.”

The above paragraph could appear to be another SF Weekly spoof of the Guardian, but Jones is serious. And since Hinckle no longer has a regular column to respond to such faulty reasoning, let’s just say that the former San Francisco Mart is a spectacular historic building in a transit-friendly neighborhood that Twitter understandably desires to occupy.

The 83-year old Dworman has so much money that he could leave that property vacant forever and not miss the funds. The notion that he needed to retain Willie Brown to get a payroll tax exemption for the entire central city area, and that Linda Corso and Warren Hinckle are part of this nefarious scheme, is absurd.

Is Willie Brown someone who fears being labeled a dealmaker? To the contrary, he loves the image of power broker. He was Assembly Speaker for over a decade and won two terms as San Francisco Mayor, precisely because of his image as a guy who gets things done.

If Brown had a role in bringing about this measure to revitalize the Central City, he would have placed himself front and center when the legislation was announced. But Brown was not involved.

Property Owners Benefit from Revitalization

Jones also criticizes the legislation because a payroll tax exemption that covers Market Street and the Uptown Tenderloin “could help a well-connected landlord.” Let me go further for Jones: the legislation will likely raise property values for every property owner in Mid-Market and the Uptown Tenderloin – well-connected or not -– by helping economically revitalize both areas.

Does the Guardian prefer otherwise? If so, it should promote measures that maintain vacant storefronts and closed businesses, which bring down property values. Of course, this strategy also eliminates jobs that progressives are fighting to create, and reduces the city revenue needed to fund vital social programs.

Ironically, Jones fails to realize that the Guardian has spent decades boosting all types of property owners through its longstanding promotion of restaurants and other small businesses (whose advertising keeps the paper afloat). Successful ground-floor retail means a more valuable commercial space for the building owner, including those who are “well-connected.”

The truth is that the revitalization of Mid-Market or any other neighborhood will reward a number of property owners who have sat on their hands for years without investing in the community. This would be true regardless of a payroll tax exemption, and is one of the realities of capitalism as practiced in the United States.

Steve Jones’ Ongoing Attacks on David Chiu

Jones’ relentless and histrionic attacks on Supervisor Kim are joined by similarly misguided attacks on Supervisor David Chiu. Jones states: “Despite calling himself a progressive, Chiu has supported using targeted tax breaks as a economic development tool, including the biotech tax credit. And yesterday, he told us, ‘I would love to bring more companies in the mid-Market area … If we don't do this policy, we will see future years of zero economic activity in that area.’

First, nearly all of the Board’s progressives backed the biotech credit, but only Chiu is criticized.

Second, is Chiu not progressive because he fears that they’ll be zero economic activity in Mid-Market absent a payroll tax exemption? I think his fears of “zero” activity are a bit overstated but is there really any doubt that Mid-Market needs to give businesses tax incentives to locate there?

Where has Jones been the past thirty years? Apparently nowhere near Mid-Market, which has long languished despite economic boom times in SOMA, Hayes Valley and other nearby areas.

David Chiu has taken actions in his career that have rankled some progressives. But his recognition of the needs of Mid-Market and the Uptown Tenderloin, and his leadership in helping making the net new hire payroll tax exemption legislation happen, is something progressives should applaud, not criticize.

Rather than accept that it misunderstood the District 6 electorate, and that it needs to provide more sensitive and accurate reporting of Asian-American politicians, the Bay Guardian is embracing its self-proclaimed role as the last true progressives.

It must be lonely in that foxhole.