Read this: 11 national news outlets cover SF’s tech culture war

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Screenshot of Fox News "The Willis Report" with Gerri Willis.

Those of us in the Bay Area have long followed the rising rents, floods of evictions, and growing resentment between long-time Bay Area residents and the new tech elite. Now it seems the national media is catching on. National reporting of the Bay Area class war is on the rise.

We’ve rounded up some of the more colorful coverage, which runs the gamut of different perspectives (even among the so-called “objective” news outlets). Some say the resentment is understandable, some say the blame against techies is misplaced. Some, like The Huffington Post, reached out to protesters for interviews, while others simply reblogged local reporters’ Tweets and video - including the Guardian’s. 

Regardless of which of the articles you most agree with, the one thing we can all agree on is that things are changing fast. Just this week, Mayor Ed Lee announced his plan to prioritize and streamline construction of affordable housing in San Francisco. And the mayor’s pal, Ron Conway, announced via a press release today that local tech/government partnership group SF.citi will form three committees to address rising inequality in San Francisco: one on housing (led by SPUR’s Gabriel Metcalf), another on philanthropy (shaking down rich peeps for cash), and another on education (hoping to form a tech pipeline from SFUSD to SFSU to jobs). 

But why blockade the tech employee’s buses? Why not protest the mayor instead?

“People say ‘you should protest city hall!’” organizer Leslie Dreyer told us. She had a large hand in organizing the first Google bus protest that blew up in the national press last week. There’s a problem with that, she said. 

It didn’t work.

“We did that every day,” she said. “No one noticed us until we protested a Google bus. There's a tension when you take it to the street.”

Maybe the national press gave Mayor Lee the nudge he needed. Decide for yourself. Below are a few examples of the national news outlets highlighting the Bay Area’s growing inequality, covering the first tech bus protests last week, and today’s. 

 

NPR: Income inequality in the San Francisco Bay Area

National Public Radio didn’t just do one article on the Google bus protests, they used the first incident as a catalyst for a weeklong series on inequality in the Bay Area. Kudos to them for going a step beyond the protest, and digging into the issues that prompted it in the first place.

One of their best pieces covers Manny Cardenas, a security guard at Google.

“Cardenas says it is strange being on Google's campus, watching the regular employees drive around on company-supplied bikes and scooters and taking food home.

‘You feel like you're different,’ he says. ‘Even though you're working in the same place, you're still like an outsider. And it's weird because you're actually protecting these people.’”

New York Times: Google bus vandalized during protest

The Times covered the growing inequality before the protests, but followed up with a few quick pieces on the tech bus rallies in San Francisco as well. Their take featured tweets from the tech community itself, who continued to hammer home on the point that the tech buses help take cars off the road. Uh techies, hate to tell you, but the point of the protests is not about taking you out of your buses, but about paying your fair share, like the robotic voices on the Muni buses tell us to do every day. 

The Times previous bus protest coverage and their previous coverage on San Francisco gentrification

Fox News: San Francisco Residents Protest Google’s Buses

Talk about missing the point, Fox News program “The Willis Report” coverage of the tech bus protests is blissfully comical. Watch Tamara Holder, the one female commenter, have to explain she knows what the word “pithy” means. Oh boy. 

From the program: 

“Google is a national treasure, a force for good. San Francisco should be really glad its people work at Google, yet now they’re beating up on the company… I’m trying to find it hard to understand the resentment. It just seems like it’s resenting Google because its employees are rich.”

We only wish Jon Stewart would’ve covered this silliness.

Salon: SF Protesters block Google bus

Salon approaches the issue from a “Google is smarmy and weird,” perspective, touching on the idea that maybe the class war is a culture war as well.

“If you’ve had the misfortune of watching “The Internship” — the most profound artifact of brand placement in cinema history — you’ll have been told that Google, and its ruling ideology of “Googliness,” is nothing if not purportedly a warm and cozy vector of innovation, with its own internal, coddled ecosystem.”

HuffPost Tech: Protesters Block Google Bus, Demand $1 Billion

This Huffpost piece is notable for the video at the top of the page, featuring an interview with local activist Erin McElroy, the leader of the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project. The piece also actually tries to explore the tech bus non-payment of city fines for using bus stops, something some of the other pieces completely avoid altogether.

“The protest centered around Google’s use of the city’s Muni bus stops for the last two years -- a practice that protesters allege is illegal and would total $1 billion in owed fines. Activists from the San Francisco Displacement and Neighborhood Impact Agency stalled an employee-filled Google Bus at the corner of 24th and Mission Streets for approximately half an hour on Monday morning with mock traffic signs citing the shuttles for illegal use of public infrastructure.”

CNET: Fake Google employee’s fight with protesters we wish was true

CNET took a look at the antics of Max Bell Alper, whose “theatrics” in posing as a Google employee arguably helped catapult the conversation on Bay Area’s tech driven inequality into the national spotlight. Nick Statt makes this observation about Alper:

“...what Alper did was something special. He lied to us, and in doing so, got us all to start throwing rocks and then look only at each other when the mirror shattered. Mission accomplished.”

Wall Street Journal: Fake Protest Spawns Real Outrage

One of the few outlets to play it straight, the Wall Street Journal’s new reporter Nathan Olivarez-Giles (a Missionite himself) pointed out that Alper is no San Franciscan, and highlighted the differing opinions among the protesters of his “theatrics.”

“Deepa Varma, a lawyer with the group Eviction Free San Francisco and an organizer of the bus protest, said the protesters have mixed feelings about Alper’s staged outburst.

'We didn’t know that was going to happen and it’s too bad because the point was really to connect the housing crisis to the tech industry,' Varma said.

Google did not respond to a request for comment.”

Honorable mentions: Missing the point

These three outlets make the argument that the protesters anger is misplaced, and should rally against government, not techies, instead. But as we’ve pointed out, that doesn’t tend to get attention, whereas protesting techies does (or else these three outlets likely wouldn’t have written stories in the first place). 

The Wire: A fake fight at a real protest blames the wrong people for a serious problem

Slate: Protesters surround Google bus in San Francisco. Obnoxiousness ensues.

Wired: In This Silicon Valley Tech Culture and Class War, We’re Fighting About the Wrong Things

The Atlantic Cities: Why I’m Not Embarrassed to Have Been Fooled by the Google Bus Protest Hoax

In this piece for The Atlantic Cities, Sarah Goodyear points out that with real tech haters like Peter Shih (though now we have Greg Gopman too) referring to San Francisco women as “49ers” (4’s who think they’re 9’s) and saying our foggy weather is “PMSing,” buying Max Bell Alper’s Google employee impersonation wasn’t all that much of a stretch.

But she takes it the next step further, and tries to build bridges between all involved.

“Will the next generation of tech entrepreneurs abandon the suburban campus model that makes Google buses necessary? We’ll have to wait to find out, although the rise of the tech sector in New York – where public transportation and pedestrian culture are more robust than anywhere else in the United States, and the bubble of privilege is less impermeable – may be one indication that things are changing.

In the meantime, the obnoxious tech guy who wasn’t a hoax, Peter Shih, did try to make amends. After his offending entry on Medium came down, Shih posted a note of apology on the site:

'I don’t deserve any forgiveness for the stupidity of my actions and words, but I sincerely hope to demonstrate by my future behavior to humbly build up and not tear down the communities and people around me.'

I'm inclined to give Shih the benefit of the doubt, and Alper, too. Not to mention myself. We're all just trying to figure this out, after all. And sometimes it's the mistakes you make that teach you the most.”

Undoubtedly a new slew of articles will follow today's protests, as the smashed windows of an Oakland Google bus are the ultimate media bait. Post any new articles you'd like in the comments below.

Comments

You picked 51% out of your ass, although even that shows majority approval

Posted by Guest on Dec. 21, 2013 @ 11:18 am

Opinions have changed since then. Here's the link again that cites 51% in a more recent poll:

http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/matier-ross/article/Ammiano-top-rival-for-...

Yes, 51% represents a slim majority but it does appear as though the Mayor is starting to lose ground. His approval rating will keep dropping if he doesn't start to make some progress on tackling the housing problems.

Posted by Yo on Dec. 21, 2013 @ 4:41 pm

I don't care how old it is. 73% was the official poll, and I'm sticking to that. There is no tech backlash in San Francisco. There is no coming bubble burst. And I didn't read your link, so there is no poll that shows Ed Lee barely winning. And I'm going to repeat this on every thread until I get the last word, because getting the last word means that I win.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 21, 2013 @ 9:13 pm
Posted by Guest on Dec. 22, 2013 @ 4:03 pm

Think I'm beginning to figure out what the Google war robots are going to be for....

Posted by Guest on Dec. 20, 2013 @ 9:06 pm

Great thought, but are the wonderful activists staging the protests calling on Tech Inc to pay more taxes supposed to buy plane tickets and follow Ed Liar to China, India and South Korea? He sure knows how to rack up the frequent flyer miles.

Of course, when he's in town he usually can be found at closed door meetings with Tech Inc leaders.

Posted by MPetrelis on Dec. 20, 2013 @ 9:35 pm

and then change those hearings to closer to where you live and nationalize the gay flag at Castro and Market. Oh - and reopen the bathhouses. I know that's all anyone I know talks about - reopening the bathhouses and the hearings. You're the kind of politician San Francisco needs more of.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 20, 2013 @ 9:52 pm

other than inside the SFBG's collective thick skulls, which together couldn't produce enough brainpower to turn on a 14-watt LED light bulb, much less "change the course" of something which cannot be reversed.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 20, 2013 @ 9:49 pm

Yeah, but unfortunately it only takes one petulant, screaming child to bring the proceedings in a room full of adults to a standstill.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 21, 2013 @ 10:35 am

The Google bus in West Oakland was attacked with a brick that smashed a window and no doubt sprayed the passengers with glass fragments in addition to the brick itself. The SFBG buried this fact at the bottom of yet another one sided glorification of the protests on the SF side. They really dug in to the story and confidently reported the window was "allegedly broken".

The West Oakland gbus stop doesn't use an AC Transit stop, so I guess that whole scene didn't fit the SFBG narrative.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 20, 2013 @ 11:04 pm

in bringing on the revolution. It has warned on more than one occasion that a refusal to agree to progressive demands for expulsion of tech workers will result in violence directed towards them.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 20, 2013 @ 11:32 pm

to pay for the progress of the new economy. What's a few evictions when there's hacking and tweeting to be done? After all, it's not like getting thrown out on the street is VIOLENCE! Not like a broken bus window!

Posted by Guest on Dec. 21, 2013 @ 12:16 am
Posted by Guest on Dec. 21, 2013 @ 12:41 am

They'd rather eat pizza and watch reality TV.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 21, 2013 @ 7:49 am

They're like Randroid bricklayers practicing for Kristallnacht. Interesting they only like transit when it's open for all. But when Newsome offered to pay the homeless for a one way ticket on grayhound, they all practically wet they're pants sasquatching.

Posted by Matlock on Dec. 20, 2013 @ 11:28 pm

Regarding the broken window on that Google shuttle:

You (Google techies) were probably almost as cold in that shuttle going down to Mountain View as the people being evicted in San Francisco and left to die on the street. I was wondering if you contemplated that?

As many cushy and mostly unregulated coaches as Google has/uses, I wouldn't think one broken window would make that much difference. I've seen much worse.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 21, 2013 @ 12:07 am

Once you say that, where will you stop?

Posted by Guest on Dec. 21, 2013 @ 7:48 am

That's absurd and you know it.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 21, 2013 @ 11:18 pm

That's an awful statement and takes the issue backwards.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 28, 2014 @ 1:09 am

Here's The Evidence That The Tech Sector Is In A Massive Bubble
From the article:
1. Serious investors are beginning to suspect a tech bubble has formed, and that a crash is coming.
2. Andreessen Horowitz is the sine qua non of Silicon Valley investor groups. It had stakes in Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Groupon and Zynga. Now it is saying it will no longer invest in early stage consumer-oriented startups. They're done.
3. One of the most legendary tech investors, Tim Draper, thinks we're at the end of the curve. Timothy Draper is the founder of Draper Fisher Jurvetson, a venture capital outfit that has invested in dozens of tech startups. He's been around since the days when Hotmail was the big new thing. He recently told The New Yorker that he believed tech venture capital may have reached the top of its cycle:...He circled the last zigzag on his diagram: the line rose and then abruptly ended.
"Abruptly ended"?

http://www.businessinsider.com/evidence-that-tech-sector-is-in-a-bubble-...

Posted by Guest on Dec. 21, 2013 @ 4:18 am

Quite the revelation, that industries and businesses are cyclical. Still you'd be better off right now investing in a tech business than say a railroad building enterprise, or a gold mining or silver mining company.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 21, 2013 @ 10:42 am

The Randian from Silicon Valley?

Oh the irony of progressives salivating over the word of VC Rand-disciples!!!

Posted by Guest on Dec. 21, 2013 @ 9:51 pm

that automatically negates everything he has to say? That's interesting logic.

The split California thing is unworkable, though I understand why he's proposing it. But as an experienced VC investor who put money into some of the biggest names in tech, Draper does know a lot about the tech economy, wouldn't you agree? He makes that Conway guy look like an amateur. And yes, he's a conservative. He clearly believes in tech. If you say he's a Randian, ok, I'll take your word for it.

So when someone like *that* is saying that this bubble is about to burst, doesn't that give you pause?

No? Fine. Who am I to argue? Just keep loading up on that Twitter and Zynga stock.

Posted by Greg on Dec. 21, 2013 @ 11:04 pm

"Just keep loading up on that Twitter and Zynga stock."

AND keep loading up on that Pacific Ocean "seafood."
(Kelp along the Pacific Coast has been found to be contaminated with nuclear radiation from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant disaster. Many fish eat kelp).

Related:

Dr Helen Caldicott on Fukushima radiation, nuclear fusion, renewable energy
http://nuclear-news.net/2013/11/08/dr-helen-caldicott-on-fukushima-radia...

Posted by Guest on Dec. 22, 2013 @ 6:55 pm

Also keep loading up on clams, oysters and all other two-shelled bivalves harvested off Washington, Oregon, Alaska and Northern California.

China Bans Shellfish Imports From US West Coast
http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/china-bans-shellfish-imports-us-west-...

Posted by Guest on Dec. 23, 2013 @ 4:54 am

All of this is just more embarrassing fodder for the rest of the country to focus on.
San Francisco politics are so simplistic that it virtually proves that 75% of these protestors are railing against the money their parents made, and the remaining 25% are clinging to the relevance left over from the days when the haight was in the news for anything but being a sh1th0le.

We dont even have a million people in SF, so extreme provincialism is our lifeblood.

Eviction=death - because once you are evicted, its never possible to move somewhere else and you will immediately die - you know like in a childs video game.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 21, 2013 @ 11:41 am

It's not about the buses. It's about the tech industry corporate self-entitlement, thinking they offer so much to a city they can act however they choose , hand pick which laws they will follow, which laws they won't follow when it's to their benefit. It's about the city's willful compliance with the corporations and developers at the expense of the residents. It's about the insensitive and inflammatory comments by a few 'darlings' of the new tech economy about the social problems inherent in the city they chose to move to, and the surprising number of their community who seem to agree with them. But I can't find a phone number to call Google to complain, and City Hall has been ignoring the complaints for years, and Jimmy Startup's Facebook page has been closed to comments. So where can I go to have my voice heard? The commuter buses are a good place to start...
[quotes from current SFGate article]

1. Business leaders have said the backlash against the tech buses doesn't make sense, as the buses take solo drivers off the roads. According to the Bay Area Council, 30 companies run the buses and make a combined total of more than 4,000 stops across San Francisco every weekday.
a. What 'solo drivers off the road'? Most of these people do not own cars (nor would they want to, living in the Mission) and therefore would have to resort to available public transportation to get to work. This might force improvements to public transport. If it did not, these employees would soon tire of what most commuters have to deal with on a daily basis, and would probably move closer to work. Apartments would become available, rents would come down.

2. Currently, those buses are using Muni stops without permission and without paying a cent, but the city is working with companies on a fee system.
a. Imagine: "I have been using an IPhone from the Apple store without permission for several years that I did not pay for, but am working with Apple on a payment usage plan" (ie: I stole it, I finally got caught, and now I'm willing to discuss a deal where I continue to use it, on my terms, with no retroactive penalties). These companies have been breaking the law for years, without penalty from, nor compensation to, the city of San Francisco (while city officials ignored it, as an unofficial corporate tax break). Now they want to 'discuss a plan' with the city because the media spotlight is glaring on them.

3. Google declined to discuss Friday's demonstrations, but spokeswoman Meghan Casserly said in a statement, "We certainly don't want to cause any inconvenience to Bay Area residents."
a. You're killing me. This is the best public relations statement you could come up with? Or, more likely, you think this is the minimum necessary to appear reasonable in public while you move forward with your plans, disregarding local laws and local public opinion. Your contempt for those you have 'inconvenienced' for years is staggering.

The city should just so NO to the private commuter buses. These tech companies should use and help with the cost of public transit. Pay and get involved to make it better for all. If you continue to use your private buses you will be stopped and penalized for every infraction you make, like normal private entities. Expect your employees to be late. A lot.

Posted by gussdolan on Dec. 21, 2013 @ 3:44 pm

It's not about the buses. It's about the tech industry corporate self-entitlement, thinking they offer so much to a city they can act however they choose , hand pick which laws they will follow, which laws they won't follow when it's to their benefit. It's about the city's willful compliance with the corporations and developers at the expense of the residents. It's about the insensitive and inflammatory comments by a few 'darlings' of the new tech economy about the social problems inherent in the city they chose to move to, and the surprising number of their community who seem to agree with them. But I can't find a phone number to call Google to complain, and City Hall has been ignoring the complaints for years, and Jimmy Startup's Facebook page has been closed to comments. So where can I go to have my voice heard? The commuter buses are a good place to start...

1. Business leaders have said the backlash against the tech buses doesn't make sense, as the buses take solo drivers off the roads. According to the Bay Area Council, 30 companies run the buses and make a combined total of more than 4,000 stops across San Francisco every weekday.
a. What 'solo drivers off the road'? Most of these people do not own cars (nor would they want to, living in the Mission) and therefore would have to resort to available public transportation to get to work. This might force improvements to public transport. If it did not, these employees would soon tire of what most commuters have to deal with on a daily basis, and would probably move closer to work. Apartments would become available, rents would come down.

2. Currently, those buses are using Muni stops without permission and without paying a cent, but the city is working with companies on a fee system.
a. Imagine: "I have been using an IPhone from the Apple store without permission for several years that I did not pay for, but am working with Apple on a payment usage plan" (ie: I stole it, I finally got caught, and now I'm willing to discuss a deal where I continue to use it, on my terms, with no retroactive penalties). These companies have been breaking the law for years, without penalty from, nor compensation to, the city of San Francisco (while city officials ignored it, as an unofficial corporate tax break). Now they want to 'discuss a plan' with the city because the media spotlight is glaring on them.

3. Google declined to discuss Friday's demonstrations, but spokeswoman Meghan Casserly said in a statement, "We certainly don't want to cause any inconvenience to Bay Area residents."
a. You're killing me. This is the best public relations statement you could come up with? Or, more likely, you think this is the minimum necessary to appear reasonable in public while you move forward with your plans, disregarding local laws and local public opinion. Your contempt for those you have 'inconvenienced' for years is staggering.

The city should just so NO to the private commuter buses. These tech companies should use and help with the cost of public transit. Pay and get involved to make it better for all. If you continue to use your private buses you will be stopped and penalized for every infraction you make, like normal private entities. Expect your employees to be late. A lot.

Posted by gussdolan on Dec. 21, 2013 @ 3:51 pm

doesn't make it any less of a nonsense statement. It just makes it more boringly repetitive.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 21, 2013 @ 4:43 pm

I agree that the tech companies should have to pay to use MUNI stops, but the SFBG is acting like the Google buses idling in the Mission is the crime of the century. It's a bit overblown.

In any case, how will throwing more money at MUNI help curtail evictions?

Posted by Snoozers on Dec. 21, 2013 @ 6:52 pm

"But I can't find a phone number to call Google to complain..."

You'd be wasting your time anyway. They don't give a damn what you (or I) think. They're Google. They're Google. They don't have to care. They're omnipotent. Think back on that Ernestine Tomlin (Lily Tomlin) skit where she worked for the phone company and her conversation with Mr Veedul, (see link below).

"3. Google declined to discuss Friday's demonstrations, but spokeswoman Meghan Casserly said in a statement, "We certainly don't want to cause any inconvenience to Bay Area residents."

Oh give it a rest! Can't you come up with something better than that. How lame. You don't give a rip about Bay Area residents other than to make sure that they use NSA-Surveillance-Google, which I no longer use whenever possible. I use non-tracking DuckDuckGo.

Here's the Lily Tomlin video you might enjoy. Think of her working for NSA-Google (it's the same thing as the phone company she was working for):

Hilarious Lily Tomlin: "Mr. Veedul, this is the Phone Company calling..."
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZIOogEaO3Hc

Posted by Guest on Dec. 21, 2013 @ 7:09 pm

really dates you and makes you look like a bigger loser than you already are.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 21, 2013 @ 8:19 pm

Do you like music from the 60's, 70's, even 80's? No led zeppelin for you? No Rolling Stones, or Who, or Clash? Do you only read books written in the past five years? Skits from 5 to 40 to 100 years ago can be funny. You're an asshole.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 21, 2013 @ 11:27 pm

I wrote the comment at 7:09pm and posted the video. You might like this video from Lily Tomlin too. It's off-topic (sorry BG), but it's still funny. Lily and Jane (her partner-writer) are very talented:

Rare Lily Tomlin skit: Gr-r-r Detergent
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s_lmeFOWyzI

Posted by Guest on Dec. 21, 2013 @ 8:40 pm
Posted by Guest on Dec. 21, 2013 @ 7:57 pm

I'm glad the BG (the messenger) is completely ignoring the "Attack the Messenger" style comments from people who think that by whining about the BG it will somehow cause the BG to stop reporting on this techie issue. WRONG. If anything, it would cause me to report on it MORE. That's the way I operate. But often people who use the "Attack the Messenger" routine don't quite think that through...that their tactic to try to silence the messenger will backfire on them.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 21, 2013 @ 9:27 pm

If the point is to block vehicles whose passengers are ripping people off...??

Firefighters are stealing more from the community than a guy working at Google ever could.

Dangerous? Nah - probably don't need those TWO fire trucks every time a drunk guy passes out...

Posted by Guest on Dec. 23, 2013 @ 9:01 am

We are two high school students working on a documentary about gentrification in the mission. Growing up in San Francisco, we have experienced the ever changing nature of our city and feel impassioned about documenting it. The process of film making thus far has been exciting, interesting, and eye opening to say the least. Because we are taking on this project as a personal endeavor rather than part of a class, we are faced with the reality that it takes funds to create a quality documentary. That is why we've come to you to ask for your help in supporting our project. Please check us out at: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/missionfilms/mi-casa-no-es-su-casa

Posted by missionfilms on Jan. 30, 2014 @ 12:31 am

We are two high school students working on a documentary about gentrification in the mission. Growing up in San Francisco, we have experienced the ever changing nature of our city and feel impassioned about documenting it. The process of film making thus far has been exciting, interesting, and eye opening to say the least. Because we are taking on this project as a personal endeavor rather than part of a class, we are faced with the reality that it takes funds to create a quality documentary. That is why we've come to you to ask for your help in supporting our project. Please check us out at: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/missionfilms/mi-casa-no-es-su-casa

Posted by missionfilms on Jan. 30, 2014 @ 12:31 am

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