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CITY HALL MAY REACH A LITTLE DEEPER INTO FIRM POCKETS Lawyers who want to stop San Francisco City Hall from reaching into firm coffers for more taxes, may look to other local businesses for support. Come November, San Franciscans will decide if the city’s 1.5 percent payroll tax should cover partner compensation at LLPs and LLCs, assuming the Board of Supervisors puts a business tax measure on the ballot as expected Tuesday. Law firms and accounting firms would likely feel the brunt of the change. Andrew Giacomini, managing partner at Hanson, Bridgett, Marcus, Vlahos & Rudy and the Bar Association of San Francisco’s point person on the measure, said Thursday the bar hadn’t taken an official position yet. But he thinks it’s “extremely likely” that it will repeat the opposition it voiced in 2002, when city officials considered a similar proposal. “The people who provide jobs in the city are businesses,” Giacomini said. “There’s a lot of reasons to help us do that. And this is not helpful.” Mayor Gavin Newsom paints the idea, which he’s spearheading, as a clarification. “We’re closing a loophole,” said the mayor’s budget director, Ben Rosenfield, adding that LLPs and LLCs aren’t paying taxes “on that portion of their partnership draws that really is payroll.” Businesses would choose from four formulas to figure out how much partner pay would count as salary. The bar voiced objections in 2002 with a letter to the Board of Supervisors. But action will probably be more significant this year, and advertisements or campaigning may be considered, Giacomini said. A roundtable with “law firm leaders” next month will help the bar strategize. To win over voters, he hopes lawyers and accountants can build a coalition with other businesses. The ballot measure also calls for an across-the-board 0.1 percent gross receipts tax for four years, which would hit all businesses with receipts above $500,000. Giacomini, who says a surprising number of businesses might be vulnerable, has started talking to trade associations. “Small business associations can influence voters in a significant way; so can the Chamber of Commerce,” he said. The chamber, which fought the 2002 proposal, said Thursday it’s still vetting the measure. Backlash proved effective two years ago, when Supervisor Jake McGoldrick withdrew his payroll tax idea under fire from businesses threatening to move. This time around, his legislative assistant, Jerry Threet, speculates Newsom’s idea may get a friendlier reception. Threet noted that the political winds have changed. “The mayor has a different coalition supporting him.” — Pam Smith TIME OUT Kevin Metz’s colleagues at Latham & Watkins felt a bit envious when he asked to take a leave of absence to work on John Kerry’s presidential campaign. “The office managing partner’s reaction was �Wow — fun,’” Metz said. “To a person, the reaction was supportive. Probably half wished I was going to a Republican campaign.” Metz began volunteering for the Kerry campaign in February and two months later was hired as deputy finance director for the Northwest region. He is one of four paid staffers and 20 volunteers working out of the campaign’s San Francisco office, near the ballpark. Working 15-hour days, seven days a week on the campaign, Metz said there is nothing like it. “Going to work and knowing you will have some small influence on the election of the next president is an incredible thrill,” he said. Metz’s primary task is raising funds for the campaign. In addition to several small house parties, he organized a breakfast for Kerry at the Westin Saint Francis Hotel in June that brought in more than $1 million. Metz said no one had ever raised more than $300,000 at a San Francisco breakfast. Later that day he oversaw an event at the Parkside Hall in San Jose that drew 300,000 people and raised more than $1.5 million. Metz got his first taste of politics as a reporter for The Tampa Tribune covering the governor’s office in Florida. After five years in journalism, he went to Yale Law School, graduating in 1999. He then did a clerkship with the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. Before joining Latham’s Menlo Park office, he spent three months working on San Jose Democrat Mike Honda’s first campaign for Congress. When Kerry became a contender for the White House, Metz saw an opportunity to fulfill a boyhood dream of working on a presidential campaign. “I was upset at the way the 2000 election ended,” Metz said. “I saw this as the most important election of my lifetime.” – Brenda Sandburg FLIP TURN PHENOM Squire, Sanders & Dempsey partner Robert Olson is doing swimmingly. The 60-year-old partner won a gold, silver and bronze metal in an amateur swimming competition in Italy last month. Not bad for a bond lawyer raised in Cleveland. “In college, I used to clutch at big meets,” said the San Francisco-based partner. “Somehow I learned the knack of being relaxed and focused. I’ve had much more success as an adult than in college.” Olson, who swam competitively at Indiana University as an undergraduate, thought his days of chlorinated laps and freestyle sprints were over when he graduated in 1966. “At my last race, I thought two things: �Boy, I hope I swim fast, and boy, I hope this is my last race,’” said Olson, who was ready to move on to other activities at the time. He picked up his old pastime again after starting at Squire, Sanders in 1969. “The law has a little bit of tension. Swimming relieves some of that,” said Olson, who practices an average of four times a week during training. “After practice, you come home relaxed, if not exhausted.” The father of two grown sons got hooked on Masters swimming and amateur contests about 20 years ago after a friend suggested he give it a try. “We won some national championships. There was camaraderie, fun, and I do enjoy competition,” he said, adding that swimmers would chat about their families and lives during downtime between races. He took up with swimming groups in Walnut Creek and San Rafael after moving to the Bay Area two years ago from Arizona. Squire, Sanders relocated him to head up the firm’s public finance expansion here. In June, he competed in Riccione, Italy, at the world championships for FINA Masters, an international amateur swimming group. He competed in the men’s 60-64 age group, scoring a gold medal in the 50-meter freestyle race — one of the most high-profile events. Olson won second place for 100-meter freestyle and third place in the 50-meter butterfly. Approximately 6,200 male and female swimmers, ages 25 to 100, competed in the nine-day event. He likened competitive swimming to law firm life, and not just for the requisite stamina and discipline. “Life is short. If you have to do something difficult, you might as well do it with a group of people you’re compatible with and who share your values and approach.” But what Olson finds most refreshing about his pastime is what makes it different from the practice of law. “Competitive swimming is very objective. There’s no arguing, no psyching out the referee,” quipped Olson. “It’s just about who can get from here to there faster.” — Adrienne Sanders

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