Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Morning Brief: SF Board of Supervisors approve tax break for Twitter, others; Wisconsin voting results still uncertain

An April election in an off-year would normally be considered minor, and largely ignored by the news media. But yesterday there were important elections in some parts of the nation -- none more watched than in Wisconsin.

But the tech community was watching a Board of Supervisors vote in San Francisco very closely. The Board voted yesterday on whether to grant a proposed tax break on companies located, or locating, to neighborhoods west of downtown. One of those companies located South of Market is Twitter, which currently employs 350 people, but has plans to create over 2,000 new jobs in the future. The company had threatened to move to Brisbane, on the Peninsula, south of The City.

Twitter got its tax break when the board voted 8 to 3.

"Central Market and the Tenderloin have been burdened with high vacancies and blight for decades and ... the payroll tax exclusion is a powerful tool that will help us bring in much-needed jobs, services and retail," San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee was quoted by

San Francisco charges a 1.5 percent business tax on employee compensation. This tax applies to companies with payrolls higher than $250,000. said the tax break could save Twitter $22 million in taxes over six years.

In what normally would have been a largely ignored vote in April, in an off-year election, voters in Wisconsin made it to the polls to vote in several contests that were a referendum on Governor Scott Walker's anti-union agenda. But getting the final results may take much more time than anticipated.

In what would normally be an uneventful vote to reconfirm a State Supreme Court Justice, voters selected between the incumbent Justice David Prosser and Assistant Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg. The race is supposed to be non-partisan, but interest groups on both sides of the Governor's agenda poured money into the race knowing that the make-up of the State Supreme Court could influence who wins major battles over legislation and recall efforts in the state.

As of this morning fewer than 600 votes separate the two candidates, with the incumbent, Justice David Prosser, holding the narrow lead. 1.4 million votes have been counted, 99 percent of the vote, meaning a recount is all but certain.

In Milwaukee County, in another nonpartisan race, Chris Abele defeated Jeff Stone for Milwaukee County executive, the position held by the current governor, Scott Walker, a Republican. The winner, Abele, was considered the Democratic candidate, while Stone was supported by the Republicans. In this race, at least, the vote was not close, with Abele winning 61 percent of the vote.