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Parody site trolls San Francisco businesses over homeless services tax

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Article 28 supporters hit Chamber of Commerce in the URLs

Sharp Budget Cuts Loom For All Sectors Of California’s Infrastructure Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

In November, San Francisco voters will decide whether to level a 0.5 percent gross receipts tax on SF businesses that make at least $50 million so that the city can fund more homeless services. The San Francisco Chamber of Commerce is opposing the tax with a campaign it calls Right Priority, Wrong Approach.

Those two things are definitely true. But everything else potential voters might read on the site is decidedly suspect.

That’s because turns out to be a parody site, cooked up on the fly by local wags looking to roast the chamber over its anti-tax charge.

The page appears ordinary at first glance, containing photos and quotes of local business leaders and politicians talking about homeless services and the November ballot.

But it doesn’t take long to notice something amiss about comments like these:

“Homelessness is the number one issue facing SF, but it’s not fair to ask the largest corporations to pay a little more, especially when Trump just cut their taxes.”

“Homelessness is a national problem. If SF had any sense, they’d wait for Washington to fix it.”

“We need to get everyone in a room and let these wildly profitable corporations tell us how much of their Trump tax breaks they’re willing to give.”

If anyone gets that far without cluing into what’s going on, the page gives the game up in the “about us” section:

Since 1850, the [Chamber of Commerce] has prioritized the interests of the City’s largest corporations over the needs of our residents. Those corporations have promised us so much money to that we hired two different fancy political consultants. [...] But somehow, with all of this political brainpower, nobody thought to register this domain name first.

There’s a Twitter account and a Facebook page to go along with the site as well. SF Weekly first noticed the political pratfall Wednesday.

All of this sprouted up after the San Francisco Chronicle ran a story earlier this week about the proposed homeless tax, Article 28, and its potential effect on SF businesses, which noted the chamber’s opposition and its (actual) “Right Priority, Wrong Approach” slogan.

The Chronicle quoted chamber VP Jim Lazarus (again, actual quote this time) saying, “There is a limit on how high taxes can go before you decide to go to Oakland, where the taxes are much, much lower,”

The troll site’s emphasis on recent tax cuts comes straight out of the text of the tax initiative itself, which notes:

In December, 2017 Donald Trump signed the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” into law which reduced the federal corporate tax rate from 35% to 21%, a 14% reduction. By comparison, this measure would be an average of less than a half of a percent tax for the gross receipts of San Francisco businesses over $50 million.

[...] It is the intentions of the voters in adopting Article 28 to house at least 4,000 homeless people and expand shelter beds by 1,000 within five years, fund legal assistance and rent subsidies to keep San Franciscans housed, and fund intensive mental health and substance abuse services.

The Chronicle also noted that in a poll released Monday, Article 28 pulled support from about 53 percent of locals.