Public banking: A Year of a Major Shift, Support Our Important Year Ahead

Public Banking Institute

Public Banking Institute Year-End Update: December 12, 2017

2017 has been

The Year of a Major Shift

Today, we are delighted to see the following states and cities move forward quickly toward establishing a Public Bank. After years of educational outreach and tireless work, PBI has been fortunate to make presentations, meet with legislators, or provide guidance and resources to almost all of these efforts.

We’re hoping you will continue your much appreciated support with a year-end contribution so we can advance our work in the important year ahead:


San Francisco could become the first city in the nation to establish a Public Bank. Supervisors Malia Cohen and Sandra Fewer are rapidly advancing the idea and applications are open now for the City’s Task Force.


PBI met with LA City Councilmembers as the City implements their resolution to divest from Wells Fargo. PBI also made central presentations in a powerful Bring On the Power of a Public Bank: People’s Forum in May, which led to more advances. We’ve been working with many strong grassroots groups Bernie Sanders BrigadeYes CA Public BankDivest LARevolution LA, and California for Progress.


Friends of Public Bank of Oakland have been on the forefront as these cities agreed to jointly fund a feasibility study.


PBI, Commonomics and Revolution LA all helped with presentations to the State Treasurer John Chiang who has recommended studying a state bank as a potential solution for the cannabis industry’s banking needs.

Trump isn’t lying, he’s bullshitting – and it’s far more dangerous

Lying means you’re actually concerned about the truth.

If you’ve been paying attention to the news over the past week or so, you know that over the weekend America was introduced to the concept of “alternative facts.” After Trump administration Press Secretary Sean Spicer rebuked the media for accurately reporting the relatively small crowds at President Donald Trump’s inauguration, senior White House aide Kellyanne Conway told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that Spicer wasn’t lying; he was simply using “alternative facts.”

News outlets are still working through the process of figuring out what to call these mischaracterizations of reality. (“Alternative facts” seems to have been swiftly rejected.) Many outlets have upped their fact-checking game. The Washington Post, for instance, released a browser extensionthat fact-checks tweets by the president in near real-time.

Other outlets have resisted labeling Trump’s misstatements as lies. Earlier this year, for instance, the Wall Street Journal’s editor-in-chief Gerard Baker insisted that the Wall Street Journal wouldn’t label Trump’s false statements “lies.”

Baker argued that lying requires a “deliberate intention to mislead,” which couldn’t be proven in the case of Trump. Baker’s critics pushed back, raising valid and important points about the duty of the press to report what is true.

As important as discussions about the role of the press as fact-checkers are, in this case Baker’s critics are missing the point. Baker is right. Trump isn’t lying. He’s bullshitting. And that’s an important distinction to make.


Bullshitters, as philosopher Harry Frankfurt wrote in his 1986 essay “On Bullshit,” don’t care whether what they are saying is factually correct or not. Instead, bullshit is characterized by a “lack of connection to a concern with truth [and] indifference to how things really are.” Frankfurt explains that a bullshitter “does not care whether the things he says describe reality correctly. He just picks them out, or makes them up, to suit his purpose.”

In addition to being unconcerned about the truth (which liars do care about, since they are trying to conceal it), Frankfurt suggests that bullshitters don’t really care whether their audience believes what they are saying. Indeed, getting the audience to believe something is false isn’t the goal of bullshitting. Rather, bullshitters say what they do in an effort to change how the audience sees them, “to convey a certain impression” of themselves.

In Trump’s case, much of his rhetoric and speech seems designed to inflate his own grand persona. Hence the tweets about improving the record sales of artists performing at his inauguration and his claims that he “alone can fix” the problems in the country.

Jackie Evancho’s album sales have skyrocketed after announcing her Inauguration performance.Some people just don’t understand the “Movement”

Likewise, his inaugural address contained much rhetoric about the “decayed” state of the country and rampant unemployment (a verifiably false statement). Trump then proceeded to claim that he was going to rid the country of these ailments. The image of Trump as a larger-than-life figure who will repair a broken country resonates with his audience, and it doesn’t work without first priming them with notions of widespread “carnage.”

A stinky, slippery slope

There are several problems with Trump adopting the bullshit style of communication.

First, misinformation is notoriously hard to correct once it’s out there, and social media, in particular, has a reputation for spreading factually inaccurate statements and conspiracy theories.

One study, for instance, examined five years of Facebook posts about conspiracy theories. The authors found that people tend to latch onto stories that fit their preexisting narratives about the world and share those stories with their social circle. The result is a “proliferation of biased narratives fomented by unsubstantiated rumors, mistrust, and paranoia.” Another study examined Twitter rumors following the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013. These researchers explored how misinformation about the identity of a suspected terrorist abounded on the social media platform. They found that although corrections to the error eventually emerged, they didn’t have the same reach as the original misinformation.

Second, because Trump’s communication style relies heavily on anger, people who are predisposed to his message may become even less critical of potential bunk. Research suggests that when people are angry, they evaluate misinformation in a partisan way, typically accepting the misleading claims that favor their own political party. One study, for instance, primed participants by having them write essays that made them feel angry about a political issue. The authors then presented them with misinformation about the issue that either came from their own party or the opposing party. Participants who felt angry were more likely to believe their party’s misinformation than people who were primed to feel anxious or neutral.

Finally, a communications strategy based on bullshit inherently makes enemies of anyone who would seek to reinstate the truth and expose his statements as bunk. Journalists, scientists, experts and even government officials who disagree with him are subject to charges of ineptitude, partisanship or conspiracy. They’re then threatened with restrictions on fundingaccess and speech. We’ve already seen this happening with the suggestion that Environmental Protection Agency data may undergo review by political appointees before being made public.

In fairness, Trump may very well believe the things that he’s saying. He was recently quoted as saying “I don’t like to lie.” And people can convince themselves of things that aren’t true.

There’s some evidence, for instance, that he avoided information that Muslims in New Jersey didn’t actually celebrate the terrorist attacks on September 11th, as he claimed. Like all of us, Trump may be putting up psychological defenses to avoid accepting information that challenges his worldviews, as research suggests all of us do. So although he’s corrected frequently by journalists and on social media, it’s a very real possibility that he’s simply shut out anyone or any source of information that threatens his way of seeing things.

But this is of little comfort. Trump has an affinity for speaking mistruths with little consideration for their factual accuracy. Combine this with his relentless efforts to discredit anyone who challenges his declarations and his heavy use of social media – where posts and tweets can go viral with little context and no fact-checking – and it sets the stage for a dangerous turn in American political and civil discourse.

(Submitted by Bruce King.)

Why the FCC’s proposed internet rules may spell trouble ahead


How fast is that video really coming in? hvostik/

As the Federal Communications Commission takes up a formal proposalto reverse the Obama-era Open Internet Order, a key question consumers and policymakers alike are asking is: What difference do these rules make?

My research team has been studying one key element of the regulations – called “throttling,” the practice of limiting download speeds – for several years, spanning a period both before the 2015 Open Internet Order was issued and after it took effect. Our findings reveal not only the state of internet openness before the Obama initiative but also the measurable results of the policy’s effect.

The methods we used and the tools we developed investigate how internet service providers manage your traffic and demonstrate how open the internet really is – or isn’t – as a result of evolving internet service plans, as well as political and regulatory changes. Regular people can explore their own services with our mobile app for Android, which is out now; an iOS version is coming soon. We’re working with the French equivalent of the FCC to promote our measurement tools in France to help audit whether French ISPs are compliant with local net neutrality protections. Other countries, including the U.S., could follow the French lead, using our tools to evaluate their internet service quality.

Rules take effect

Before the Open Internet Order took effect in 2015, companies running cellular networks were allowed to use throttling to manage how much data their networks needed to handle at any given time. To do this, some companies capped users’ download speeds, which could cause video to stream at lower quality, with less-sharp images that were blurry during action sequences.

But there were limited rules governing how the mobile companies enforced those caps: We found some providers slowing down YouTube videos but not Netflix or other video services. This is an example of a major concern net neutrality supporters have: that internet providers might give preference to traffic from one site or another – perhaps making video providers pay extra to have their material delivered at high speed. If the speed or quality consumers can get from an online service depends on how much providers can afford to pay, that can put startups and innovators at a disadvantage to existing internet giants.

When it took effect, the Open Internet Order allowed internet providers to use throttling in only a limited way, under the so-called “reasonable network management” provision. Instead of singling out specific types of data for throttling, mobile companies – and wired internet providers as well – were required to do so in a way that treats all traffic equally. We observed the companies that had slowed down YouTube but not Netflix shifting their policies to reflect this new requirement.

The return of throttling

In late 2015, though, T-Mobile announced a program it called “Binge On,” departing from its competitors by offering its customers “free” video streaming – the ability to watch some video services on their devices without counting against monthly high-speed data limits. The trade-off was that their video quality from those providers would be limited in the best case to the equivalent of a regular DVD – not the high-definition video most people have come to expect, and which mobile data networks are capable of carrying. Some video sites would come in at higher quality, but their data would count against users’ monthly caps. Other sites’ videos, strangely enough, would come in at low quality, though the data would still count against users’ monthly caps.

When my team heard the announcement, we were perplexed. It seemed clear T-Mobile was throttling, perhaps even preferentially, choosing a handful of services to exempt from users’ monthly data caps, while continuing to count data from other video providers. And many users were opted in by default, potentially never knowing that T-Mobile had decided for them whether they could stream high-quality video. But most confounding, how did T-Mobile know what “video” was, as distinct from other data flowing through its networks?

What are ‘packets,’ and how do they travel around the internet?

Internet traffic is broken up into small chunks of data called “packets” that travel through the wires separately and then are reassembled by the computer or mobile device that’s receiving them. Think of these as small messages in individual envelopes traveling through the mail. In both cases, the packets and envelopes reach their destination according to the address written on the outside – not what is contained inside.

It would be strange if the U.S. Postal Service looked at the envelopes, guessed what was inside, and decided your credit card bill should be delivered first, but delayed your paycheck. Unlike some envelopes, packets coming from YouTube or Spotify don’t carry information on the outside declaring what’s inside – say, “video” or “music streaming” or “web.” To the internet, they all look the same. And under the principles of net neutrality, they should all be treated the same.

Unequal handling

Through a set of rigorous experiments, we were able to find out how T-Mobile and other internet companies tried to tell the difference between video packets and packets containing other types of data: They were looking inside the packets – inside the envelopes – for particular words or terms, like “” or “googlevideo.”

Someone had come up with a list of hints that indicated a particular piece of network traffic was in fact part of an online video. But of course there are countless video streaming platforms – and old ones die off and new ones are started every day. T-Mobile’s list couldn’t possibly cover them all.

We found that the popular video service Vimeo was not throttled by T-Mobile or Verizon. This meant that people who streamed Vimeo content used up some of their monthly data cap, but got better video quality than people watching YouTube or Netflix. This decision by T-Mobile – though it passed a review by the FCC – affected how well YouTube and Netflix could compete with Vimeo, which raises a specter of more problems to come if the FCC scraps the Open Internet Order (which, for all these reasons, I have urged them not to). What, for example, would stop AT&T from giving its DirecTV subsidiary faster and better-quality traffic than it gave competitors Netflix and Hulu?

Protecting consumers

One way to ensure users get the service they’re expecting – and paying for – is to require more transparency from internet providers. Specifically, they should disclose how much they slow down video and what that does to video quality, but also what hints or techniques they use to detect video traffic in the first place.

In addition, those methods must ensure that internet companies treat all content providers equally – so users don’t get better or worse performance from different sites based on corporate interests or disputes. And regulators need to enforce these basic rules, using auditing tools like the open-source ones my research team has developed.

Editor’s note: This is an updated version of an article originally published Sept. 29, 2017.

(Submitted by Bruce King.)

USA Today Opinion: Will Trump’s lows ever hit rock bottom?

A president who’d all but call a senator a whore is unfit to clean toilets in Obama’s presidential library or to shine George W. Bush’s shoes: Our view


Updated 6:12 a.m. PST Dec. 13, 2017

White House Spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders flatly denied that President Donald Trump's tweet about NY Senator Kirsten Gillibrand was in any way sexist, insisting only people with their minds "in the gutter" would have read it that way. (Dec. 12)White House Spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders flatly denied that President Donald Trump’s tweet about NY Senator Kirsten Gillibrand was in any way sexist, insisting only … Show more   AP

With his latest tweet, clearly implying that a United States senator would trade sexual favors for campaign cash, President Trump has shown he is not fit for office. Rock bottom is no impediment for a president who can always find room for a new low.

Lightweight Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a total flunky for Chuck Schumer and someone who would come to my office “begging” for campaign contributions not so long ago (and would do anything for them), is now in the ring fighting against Trump. Very disloyal to Bill & Crooked-USED!

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Tuesday dismissed the president’s smear as a misunderstanding because he used similar language about men. Of course, words used about men and women are different. When candidate Trump said a journalist was bleeding from her “wherever,” he didn’t mean her nose.

President Trump viewed through a lens in Pensacola,

President Trump viewed through a lens in Pensacola, Fla., on Dec. 8, 2017.

And as is the case with all of Trump’s digital provocations, the president’s words were deliberate. He pours the gasoline of sexist language and lights the match gleefully knowing how it will burst into flame in a country reeling from the #MeToo moment.A president who would all but call Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand a whore is not fit to clean the toilets in the Barack Obama Presidential Library or to shine the shoes of George W. Bush.

This isn’t about the policy differences we have with all presidents or our disappointment in some of their decisions. Obama and Bush both failed in many ways. They broke promises and told untruths, but the basic decency of each man was never in doubt.

Donald Trump, the man, on the other hand, is uniquely awful. His sickening behavior is corrosive to the enterprise of a shared governance based on common values and the consent of the governed.

It should surprise no one how low he went with Gillibrand. When accused during the campaign of sexually harassing or molesting women in the past, Trump’s response was to belittle the looks of his accusers. Last October, Trump suggested that he never would have groped Jessica Leeds on an airplane decades ago: “Believe me, she would not be my first choice, that I can tell you.” Trump mocked another accuser, former People reporter Natasha Stoynoff, “Check out her Facebook, you’ll understand.”  Other celebrities and politicians have denied accusations, but none has stooped as low as suggesting that their accusers weren’t attractive enough to be honored with their gropes.

If recent history is any guide, the unique awfulness of the Trump era in U.S. politics is only going to get worse. Trump’s utter lack of morality, ethics and simple humanity has been underscored during his 11 months in office. Let us count the ways:

  • He is enthusiastically supporting Alabama’s Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore, who has been accused of pursuing — and in one case molesting and in another assaulting — teenagers as young as 14 when Moore was a county prosecutor in his 30s. On Tuesday, Trump summed up his willingness to support a man accused of criminal conduct: “Roy Moore will always vote with us.”
  • Trump apparently is going for some sort of record for lying while in office. As of mid-November, he had made 1,628 misleading or false statementsin 298 days in office. That’s 5.5 false claims per day, according to a count kept by The Washington Post’s fact-checkers.
  • Trump takes advantage of any occasion — even Monday’s failed terrorist attack in New York — to stir racial, religious or ethnic strife. Congress “must end chain migration,” he said Monday, because the terror suspect “entered our country through extended-family chain migration, which is incompatible with national security.” So because one man — 27-year-old Akayed Ullah, a lawful permanent resident of the U.S. who came from Bangladesh on a family immigrant visa in 2011 —  is accused of attacking America, all immigrants brought to this country by family are suspect? Trump might have some credibility if his criticism of immigrants was solely about terrorists. It isn’t.  It makes no difference to him if an immigrant is a terrorist or a federal judge. He once smeared an Indiana-born judge whose parents emigrated from Mexico. It’s all the same to this president.
  • A man who clearly wants to put his stamp on the government, Trump hasn’t even done his job when it comes to filling key government positions that require Senate confirmation. As of last week, Trump had failed to nominate anyone for 60% of 1,200 key positions he can fill to keep the government running smoothly.
  • Trump has shown contempt for ethical strictures that have bound every president in recent memory.  He has refused to release his tax returns, with the absurd excuse that it’s because he is under audit.  He has refused to put his multibillion dollar business interests in a blind trust and peddles the fiction that putting them in the hands of his sons does the same thing.

Not to mention calling white supremacists “very fine people,” pardoning a lawless sheriff, firing a respected FBI director, and pushing the Justice Department to investigate his political foes.

It is a shock that only six Democratic senators are calling for our unstable president to resign.

The nation doesn’t seek nor expect perfect presidents, and some have certainly been deeply flawed. But a president who shows such disrespect for the truth, for ethics, for the basic duties of the job and for decency toward others fails at the very essence of what has always made America great.

USA TODAY’s editorial opinions are decided by its Editorial Board, separate from the news staff. Most editorials are coupled with an opposing view — a unique USA TODAY feature.

To read more editorials, go to the Opinion front page or sign up for the daily Opinion email newsletter. To respond to this editorial, submit a comment to

Originally Published 4:30 p.m. PST Dec. 12, 2017

Net Neutrality

Thanks for signing up to participate in the “Break the Internet” protest on December 12th, to get Congress to stop the FCC from ending net neutrality.

In the past few weeks, there’s been a tremendous surge of opposition to the FCC’s plan. If everyone does as much as they can right now, there’s still a chance to stop it. We need to persuade our members of Congress to oppose this plan.

Here are some concrete things you can do right now:

  1. Call Congress now, if you haven’t already— we need as many calls as possible.
  2. Share the BattleForTheNet campaign to get others to call: share now on Facebook and Twitter with just a couple of clicks.
  3. If you run a website, display a prominent alert for the day of action using this codeYou just need to embed a bit of javascript in the header of your site, and on December 12 your site will invite users to contact the FCC and Congress. You can also use the Cloudflare app or WordPress plug-in. Or you can also install our WordPress CatSignal for important announcements in the future.
  4. If you’re a video creator, use our 30-second bumper to explain why net neutrality matters.There are square, vertical, and horizontal versions for you to download here.
  5. Blog about the day of action. Whether you’re a business or a blogger, tell your followers why net neutrality matters to you, and then send us a link. Feel free to adapt this language from the July 12th day of action.
  6. Share this video so that everyone will know what net neutrality is.

We encourage everyone to get creative and think about how you can best get your friends, family, or audience to participate in the “Break the Internet” day of action – whether it’s by sharing on Facebook and Twitter, putting something prominent on your site, sending a push notification to your mobile app users, making a video, or anything else you can think of!

There are a ton of resources for you to pick and choose from at

Don’t stop driving traffic to! We need to keep up the pressure, even after the vote, to make sure Congress does everything it can to stop the FCC from dismantling net neutrality.

So if you’re ready to start driving traffic from your site, go for it! And don’t let up. We’re in this for the long haul.

-Team Internet/

Colin Kaepernick Presented With SI Muhammad Ali Legacy Award

Gina Johnson Smith

Gina Johnson Smith

Communication Specialist at SPMG Media


Beyoncé surprised ex-49ers player Colin Kaepernick Tuesday night, presenting him with the SI Muhammad Ali Legacy Award, which honors an athlete who uses their platform to further change.

Beyoncé took a strong stance on Kaepernick’s actions to protest police brutality at the 2017 Sportsperson of the Year Awards Show in New York. Kaepernick’s decision to remain seated while the national anthem played back in 2016 sparked similar protests by NFL players that continue to incite controversy in the present.

“Thank you Colin Kaepernick. Thank you for your selfless heart, and your conviction,” the “Lemonade” singer said in her presentation speech. “Thank you for your personal sacrifice. Colin took action with no fear of consequence or repercussion only hope to change the world for the better. To change perception, to change the way we treat each other, especially people of color.”

“We’re still waiting for the world to catch up. It’s been said that racism is so American, that when we protest racism, some assume we are protesting America. So, let’s be very clear. Colin has always been very respectful of the individuals who selfless serve and protect our country and our communities and our families. His message is solely focused on social injustice for historically disenfranchised people. Let’s not get that mistaken.”

“I say this as a person who receives credit for using my platform to protest systemic oppression, racialized injustice and the dire consequences of anti-blackness in America,” he said. “I accept this award not for myself, but on behalf of the people. Because if it were not for my love of the people, I would not have protested. And if it was not for the support from the people, I would not be on this stage today. With or without the NFL’s platform, I will continue to work for the people because my platform is the people.”

Kaepernick has been unable to find a new NFL position since he opted out of his contract with the 49ers at the end of the 2016 season, and sued the NFL and its owners in October for collusion against hiring him. Kaepernick also received the ACLU’s courageous advocate award Monday evening.

The 2017 SI Sportsperson of the Year Show will air on NBCSN and on Univision Deportes Network at 8 p.m. ET Dec. 8 and Dec. 9, respectively.

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee Dies At 65

2/12/2017 (

Lee was the city’s first Asian-American mayor

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee died early Tuesday, ending a decades-long career in city politics and activism and sending shockwaves across the city.

Lee, 65, was the city’s first Asian-American mayor. His cause of death was not immediately released, but former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown told local media that Lee had suffered a cardiac arrest.

“It is with profound sadness and terrible grief that we confirm that Mayor Edwin M. Lee passed away on Tuesday, December 12 at 1:11 a.m. at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital,” city officials said in a statement. “Family, friends and colleagues were at his side. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Anita, his two daughters, Brianna and Tania, and his family.”

Board of Supervisors President London Breed will become acting mayor, effective immediately, but the board may vote to replace her at any time. The city will hold an election on June 5 to name a mayor to finish out Lee’s term.

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee stands for a photograph on Aug. 17, 2016. Lee died Tuesday. 

“Ed was a true champion for working people and epitomized the California spirit,” California Gov. Jerry Brown said in a statement. “He’ll truly be missed.”

Lee, the child of Chinese immigrants, was born and raised in Seattle and moved to the Bay Area to attend law school at the University of California, Berkeley. As a student, he became involved in advocacy by working for the civil rights group the Asian Law Caucus.

“As the son of immigrants who became mayor of one of America’s largest cities, Ed broke down barriers and blazed a trail for future generations to follow,” Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), former district attorney of San Francisco, said Tuesday. “And at this inflection moment in our country when some have promoted hatred and division, Mayor Lee has been an outspoken advocate for diversity and inclusion.”

Lee began working for San Francisco in 1989 as an adviser to then-Mayor Art Agnos. He held various positions within the city government until he was appointed city administrator in 2005. When then-Mayor Gavin Newsom was elected California’s lieutenant governor in 2011, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors appointed Lee as the city’s new leader. He won re-election in 2015.

“His intellect, unshakable integrity, boundless optimism and contagious love for San Francisco elevated the City to greater heights,” Newsom said in a statement Tuesday. “He steered San Francisco with an unshakable hand, an indomitable spirit, and a great sense of humor.”

San Francisco interim Mayor Ed Lee files paperwork to officially run for mayor on August 8, 2011 in San Francisco, California.

Lee was best known for his progressive policies on immigration and defending San Francisco as a sanctuary city. He also tried to combat the city’s longstanding homelessness problem with the creation of Navigation Centers, a short-term housing option, and investments in affordable housing programs. 

Lee was also instrumental in raising San Francisco’s minimum wage in 2014, making it the highest in the country at the time.

Before entering city politics in the 1980s, Lee cut his teeth in San Francisco activism by advocating for the city’s large Chinese-American population. As a lawyer, he famously sued the San Francisco Police Department over height requirements that excluded many Asian-American candidates and sued the San Francisco Fire Department over racial hazing.

He was also a fierce advocate for residents of the city’s Chinatown, the oldest such neighborhood in the U.S. and one of the largest Chinese enclaves outside China. In 1978, Lee famously went after the city over unlivable conditions at the neighborhood’s Ping Yuen public housing complex and organized a successful rent strike.

The earliest photo in our archives of SF Mayor Ed Lee, who died this morning. @sfchronicle has updates all morning.

Advocacy for fair and safe housing would become part of his legacy as mayor, too. Just the day before his death, Lee announced legislation that would recoup costs from landlords illegally housing people in unsafe buildings.

But his term has not been without controversy. Lee has been criticized for poorly managing the city’s growth, which was triggered by the rise of the region’s tech industry and subsequent influx of high-paid tech workers.

That growth ballooned beyond what Lee could have imagined when he first took office. The boom resulted in higher housing prices, congestion and traffic issues, and social tensions due to rising income disparity. Lee’s efforts to increase housing were often stifled by the city’s strict zoning regulations, building height restrictions and NIMBY activism.

In an effort to revitalize the city’s blighted Mid-Market Street corridor, Lee introduced a tax break for companies that moved into the neighborhood. The 2012 incentive, which became known as the “Twitter Tax Break,” proved controversial when it was revealed that it helped companies avoid $34 million in city taxes in 2014 alone.

That tax break helped earn Lee a reputation for being business-friendly to a fault, but he often emphasized that such moves were part of his overall mission to help struggling neighborhoods.

“We need to continue to make sure this is the city for the 100 percent,” he often repeated in public statements.

Willa Frej contributed reporting.

Break the Internet!

We have just days. The FCC is about to vote to end net neutrality—breaking the fundamental principle of the open Internet—and only an avalanche of calls to Congress can stop it. So until the December 14th vote, “Break the Internet” on your sitewith your profile pictureon TwitterFacebookSnapchatInstagramLinkedInredditTumblrYoutube or in whatever wild creative way you can to get your audience to contact Congress. That’s how we win. Are you in?


These sites are already working to drive calls and messages to Congress to stop the FCC:

  • GitHub
  • Reddit
  • Tumblr
  • Patreon
  • Private Internet Access
  • BoingBoing
  • Imgur
  • BitTorrent
  • PornHub
  • DeviantArt
  • Etsy
  • Fiverr
  • Cloudflare
  • Discord
  • Mozilla
  • Pinterest
  • CiviCRM
  • Sonic
  • Know Your Meme
  • Change dot org
  • ICG logo
  • Checkiday
  • DuckDuckGo


Net neutrality affects everyone who uses the Internet. This protest is for all of us. Here’s a big list of creative ways to “Break the Internet” for the 48 hours before the FCC vote. Go wild and Tweet every 10 minutes until the FCC vote, change your job on LinkedIn to “Defending Net Neutrality” or say you’re “Married to the Open Internet” on Facebook. Do whatever you can to get *everyone’s* attention and drive phone calls to Congress. If you run a website or blog, go here.

You can change your profile picture…

Use the image below or Click here.

#StopTheFCC profile pic

You can join with Instagram…

Use these these materials to post a story, or post these graphics frequently until the vote.

Change your featured website to

You can join with Snapchat…

Save this photo and upload it to your Snapchat story for the next 48 hours.

You can join with Facebook…

“Break the Internet” and get everyone’s attention by changing your “Relationship Status.” Get “Married” (to the free and open Internet). Share the status and then immediately add a comment sending people to take action at

a) Go to “About” section of your Facebook page and choose “Family and Relationships” in the left sidebar. Add a relationship status and choose “Married” and hit “Save Changes”.


b) From the top right of the post click on “edit life event”. Change the Title to “Free and Open Internet” or “Net Neutrality”.


c) Share it and add a comment to the post that says: “I’m married to the free and open Internet! Go to to help defend net neutrality. Change your relationship status to get everyone’s attention. Get involved at!”


You can join with Tumblr…

Just follow these step-by-step instructions to add a “Contact Congress” widget to your Tumblr.

You can join with LinkedIn…

Add a “new job” position to your profile called “Defending Net Neutrality at”—this will trigger a notification to your network and get more people to take action before the vote. Here’s how:

1. Make sure your settings are set to: “notify people when your profile changes”. Go to the upper right hand corner, choose settings and go to the Privacy tab. Make sure you choose yes on “Sharing profile edits”.


2. Go to your profile and choose the pen to edit. And, add a new position:


3. Here’s some text you can add:

“The FCC is voting to end net neutrality on Dec. 14th. Congress can still stop the vote, but only if we make them. Go to to #StoptheFCC and defend net neutrality before it’s too late.

Then, join me in “breaking the Internet” by adding a new job position to your LinkedIn profile too and tell your network how to #stopthefcc:”


You can join with Reddit…

Let’s do another community takeover! Everyone post links to and — get wild and creative.

If you’re a mod, check this thread with CSS you can use to change your theme and “break” your subreddit.

You can join the protest with your site…

You can display a prominent alert on your site that shows the world what the web will look like without net neutrality, and asks your visitors to call Congress. Click here for a demograb the code on GitHub, or check out these instructions for Tumblr. None of these will actually block, slow, or paywall your site. But, they will let your users contact their representatives in Congress without having to leave your page. They appear once per user per day and users can easily click away.

Just add this line of code to your site’s header:

GlitchCountdown Modal PreviewSlow Modal PreviewMoney Modal PreviewStop Modal Preview

Or to go epic and be a hero to the Internet, you can completely turn your site red. Here’s an example from Reddit and you can get the code on Github. (Visitors can still scroll down to get to your site, but c’mon, this is really epic.)


You can use these banners and images too…

We are just weeks away from an FCC vote tokill net neutrality. Only Congress can stop it.We are just weeks away from an FCC vote tokill net neutrality. Only Congress can stop it.We are just weeks away from an FCC vote tokill net neutrality. Only Congress can stop it.

You can even participate on YouTube and Vimeo with this video bumper.

We made a short video reel that explains why net neutrality matters, and how Internet users can tell the FCC and Congress to protect the open web at all costs through Add this reel to your online creations starting now. Tell your viewers about the day of action on YouTube, Vimeo, or wherever else you put your videos!

There are square, vertical, and horizontal versions of the bumper for you to download here.

Keep in touch!

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