San Francisco Mayor Has More On His Mind Than Gay Marriage

Replacing San Francisco's antiquated software system is a priority, says Mayor Gavin Newsom.
It may seem that San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom has only gay marriage on his mind, with the City Hall serving as the site for more than 3,400 matrimonials between same-sex couples in the past few weeks.

But earlier this week, he assured a group of software executives attending Software 2004, a trade show in San Francisco, that he has other priorities on his mind.

Newsom told the group he wants to update the city's antiquated software systems, which date back to "the industrial Middle Ages." He wants to install a 311 system for nonemergency calls to City Hall, just as New York did last March. He also wants to use software to do "crime mapping" so the police know what types of crimes occur where with the greatest frequency.

And he wants software executives, like those attending both the luncheon and the software conference, to run their businesses in San Francisco, which saw an exodus of technology companies after the bursting of the dot-com bubble. During the boom, new office space with all the amenities rented for $100 to $120 per square foot. Now the same space "in buildings costing tens of millions of dollars, wired, ready for growth, is available for $20 to $30 a square foot," he said.

Newsom urged software firms already in the city to remain and not outsource their growth in jobs. By outsourcing, he didn't mean moving work overseas, he meant moving jobs over the San Francisco Bay Bridge to Oakland.

Newson promised the group that the city "that doesn't always seem friendly to business" was going to improve its act by reviewing its tax structure and phasing out the payroll tax, which extracts additional tax dollars from a business each time it adds an employee.

He's learned as a business man himself--he owns an interest in wine stores and restaurants in the city and the Lake Tahoe area--that City Hall can have a big effect on whether businesses stay and prosper. But that's not all he's learned.

Two years ago, Newsom got married. A San Francisco County supervisor at the time, Newsom didn't know where to go to get a marriage certificate. That changed during his first 52 days in the mayor's office. Cracked Newsom: "Now I'm intimately familiar with the marriage certificate process."

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