Mark Zuckerberg gave $75 million to a San Francisco hospital. The town desires to sentence him anyway.


The sign outside the buildings reads “Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center.”
Justin Sullivan/Getty Photos

A vote on Thursday is the newest flashpoint within the debate over the right position for billionaire philanthropy.

Fb CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s adopted hometown of San Francisco took step one on Thursday to formally condemn the naming of a serious hospital after him and his spouse, the newest flashpoint within the debate over the right position for billionaire philanthropy.

A panel on town’s board of supervisors really helpful the condemnation, a transfer that displays the brand new, more and more controversial politics of each the tech business and of its founders. Activists on each the left and the suitable have grown sharply vital of huge tech firms like Fb. And concurrently, there’s a constructing backlash motion to charitable presents from the mega wealthy.

The three-Zero vote is a manifestation of every of these crosscurrents, which each run significantly robust in liberal San Francisco. The measure has no authorized drive. However a symbolic, full vote of the board is anticipated on December 15.

5 years in the past, Zuckerberg and his spouse, Priscilla Chan, gave $75 million to San Francisco Normal Hospital, town’s sole public hospital, the place Chan was a pediatrician on the time. As a part of the donation, the hospital was formally renamed the Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg San Francisco Normal Hospital and Trauma Heart.

Since then, Zuckerberg has emerged as a political piñata as Fb grew in measurement and has been dogged by cascading scandals. And Zuckerberg’s troubles in his company life have more and more boomeranged onto his charitable presents, most notably at his and his spouse’s eponymous philanthropy, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.

And so after years of matches and begins, a gaggle of hospital nurses, anti-Fb activists, and progressive lawmakers on San Francisco’s board of supervisors started to mobilize this summer season to push again towards the hospital’s title. Moderately than transferring to formally rename it — which contractually may require returning the $75 million reward — the group determined to push for a center floor: to sentence the title whereas leaving it in place.

That anger spilled out on Thursday earlier than the Committee on Authorities Audit and Oversight, a panel on San Francisco’s board of supervisors.

“San Francisco’s solely public hospital mustn’t bear the title of an individual accountable for endangering public well being in our nation and all over the world — and but it does,” stated Gordon Mar, the lead sponsor of the measure. “These are coverage selections, they usually have a physique rely.”

“We’re after all grateful for the reward and we’re grateful for any reward to our most essential establishments throughout this time,” stated Matt Haney, one other supervisor backing it. “However that doesn’t imply that we should always for perpetually basically have given away promoting rights on this most important public establishment.”

The session rapidly turned a pop-off session on the Fb founder, with activists pillorying him for any company transgressions and downplaying the importance of his reward, which was the biggest single personal reward to a public hospital ever. The feedback turned fairly caustic — as an illustration, one San Franciscan referred to as him a “wealthy, amoral egotist who runs an extraction company.”

In the meantime, charity leaders voiced concern over the precedent that the decision may set. Defenders of high-dollar philanthropy usually argue that no matter any tax benefits or public-relations boons that the donation presents the giver, their cash additionally does actual good for the deprived. And the hospital agreed in 2015 when it accepted the $75 million that it could preserve the Zuckerberg title for a minimum of 50 years.

Kim Meredith, the pinnacle of the hospital’s basis, pressured that the “heartfelt reward” from Zuckerberg and Chan had made town “a mannequin of care” throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

“This decision of condemnation on the naming of [the hospital] has the potential of unintended penalties and a chilling impact on previous, current, and future presents to town,” she stated. “We’ll want philanthropies to proceed to deal with the challenges of Covid-19, well being fairness, and restoration in future years.”

Meredith added in a later assertion that she was “proud that the hospital now bears their names.”

It isn’t uncommon for an establishment to call one thing after a donor who makes a very giant reward. One other San Francisco hospital is called after a special tech billionaire, Salesforce founder Marc Benioff. San Francisco officers signed off on the Zuckerberg naming contract in 2015.

However for an establishment to formally condemn a donor is uncommon, if not unprecedented.

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