/// A Tale of Two Cities? A Q&A With Gavin Newsom on San Francisco’s History of “Animus” With Tech.
On the occasion of San Francisco finally getting its first major public Wi-Fi installation this week — nearly a decade after such an initiative had been proposed and awarded to Google and Earthlink — it seemed timely to call on Gavin Newsom. Newsom is the current lieutenant governor of California and former San Francisco mayor who had led the initial project. While still hurting over some political setbacks back then on the issue and wanting a little credit for his early efforts, he had some interesting thoughts on the history of intersections between San Francisco technology initiatives and public backlash against the tech industry. It’s a relevant and ongoing conversation as tensions continue in the city, which both embraces its tech hegemony and is also a little uncomfortable with the social and economic debates it brings. Representatives from local tech companies met behind closed doors yesterday with current Mayor Ed Lee for a conversation about “how the tech sector and the city can keep working together to continue San Francisco’s economic success for the benefit of everyone,” according to organizer Ron Conway, who said that specific areas of discussion included education, jobs and affordable housing. Here’s the conversation with Newsom, which has been edited slightly for length and the level of detail about local political skirmishes of the past. As one of the drivers behind the failed efforts for free citywide Wi-Fi when you were San Francisco mayor, what are your reflections on Wi-Fi launching on Market Street this week? I’m pleased, and I guess as a good Irish Catholic, you could say God’s delays are not God’s denials. It’s great to see the city step it up. I love the idea of Market Street because it’s the intersection of the old and the new San Francisco — symbolically, not just substantively.