Lawmakers: Cancel your Amazon.com account

A pair of East Bay lawmakers will join with a group of nonprofits and concerned citizens Monday to launch a campaign urging Californians to cancel their Amazon.com accounts until the retail giant backs off its ballot-measure effort to repeal an online sales tax.

State Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, and Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, who were instrumental in the tax legislation’s passage, will hold a news conference on the State Capitol’s north steps Monday morning with Nan Brasmer, president of the California Alliance for Retired Americans; Jessica Lehman, lead organizer with Community Resources for Independent Living; and a few dozen California seniors, families, people with disabilities and health and human services advocates.

They’ll be making a case that making Amazon collect sales tax from Californians’ online purchases would level the playing field between online and brick-and-mortar businesses, bringing the state $200 million per year in revenue that’s desperately needed to maintain vital public services.

After the news conference, participants will testify to the state Senate Appropriations Committee in support of additional measures needed to raise revenues.

Monday’s event, one of several planned statewide, is sponsored by the Health and Human Services Network of California, California Partnership, Health Access, California Immigrant Policy Center, Western Center on Law and Poverty, Parent Voices, California Alliance for Retired Americans, Community Resources for Independent Living and other groups.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • Elwood

    If Hancock and Skinner came out in favor of motherhood and free beer for everyone, I would be opposed.

    Lord have mercy!

  • Common Tater

    Go and persuade the sea wave not to break. You will persuade me no more easily to join in such an endeavor.

    Long Live Amazon!

  • RR, Senile Columnist

    Why do seniors and assorted do-gooders despise Amazon? They can purchase stuff cheaply Online. Let them donate the cash they save to worthy causes.

  • Sara and Meg WHO ???!!!

    Expecting a business to pay its respective share of taxes = despite — – Now, isn’t that just a tad bit of a curious extreme ???

    According to the reasoning of RR, Senile, we should eliminate taxes of all kinds since the price of many goods would be reduced . . . . . yassirreee now that thars some reel GOOOOOOOD thinkin’.

    I can see where the kid that was standing outside Safeway on Friday asking for signatures got his “information” on this matter.

    He was 0 for 4 signature requests in the time I was there. . . .

    These folks can pony up their fair share just like the rest of us and if some other entity wants to subsidize their municipal existance and needs of their employees – – – have at it !!!!

  • Elwood

    @ #4

    Typical fuzzy headed liberal thinking.

    Higher taxes are the solution to everything.

    Cutting spending?

    Oh, no!

  • Patty O’Day

    Sorry Nancy & Loni, I already signed the petition – at Safeway no less. I guess I was there at a different time than Sara was.

  • Sara and Meg Who ???!!!!

    Never made any statement that higher taxes were a solution to “everything” – where did THAT come from ?????? Elwood is (once again) mistaken or, at the very least, seriously exagerating beyond any reason – why ????

    And, why is Elwood opposed to Yahoo paying its fair share of taxes just like any other entity ?

    Yahoo, it’s facilities and employees expect various civic and municipal services to be supplied to their businesses -isn’t that young man or woman half a world away defending YAHOO’S freedoms and safety – – – just like everyone elses ???? Why doesn’t Yahoo want to contribute ??? Doesn’t Yahoo expect the cops to come to their facilities in their time of need ?? Why should they receive those services free of charge ?????

    P.S. – nimrod – this topic isn’t about SPENDING, it’s about the revenue side of the balance sheet; as in WHO pays taxes.

    If you would prefer a discussion about the expense side, maybe you could start one someplace else. Ill even help you out and suggest we start with the safety unions and their exhorbitant salaries and pension plans . . . but that would be disrespectful to this particular thread and the topic at hand.

    Respect – it’s a good word and a worthwhile trait, Elwood – look it up, it’s something you have a significant lack of from everything I’ve seen.

    But, hey, maybe your aim is simply to stir up the s**t in some misplaced notion that nonesense is a great way to generate “interest” which begets more eyeballs which begets more Google ad-sense revenue . . . .or, maybe you’re just a sad little person that derives some kind of ego rush from anonymous people paying attention to you . . . and, if either of these are the case, I understand and encourage you to simply keep on doing what you been doing . . . . otherwise, please shut the hell up and pay attention.

  • In other news, Sen. Hancock and Assemblywoman Skinner have joined King Canute to sponsor legislation commanding the tides to cease eroding the California coast line.

  • Elwood

    Speaking of shutting the hell up and paying attention, how did Yahoo get into this discussion?

    Have you been in the cooking sherry again?

  • Elwood

    When Commissar Skinner was running for election, someone called me and asked me to support her.

    I told them that I wouldn’t urinate on Skinner if she was on fire.

    Haven’t heard from them since.

  • Sara and Meg WHO ??!!!

    Oh – gosh . . my mistake, Smellwood, you got me.

    How ’bout staying on topic though – OK, nimrod ?

    Remember – there was a question here – which you conveniently overlooked – –

    Stay with me now, it was tricky, I know . . . . but it went something like this – “Why shouldn’t Amazon pay for the same freedoms and privledges and services WE ALL DO ????? ”

    Tell my why this corporate member of our community should enjoy all of the freedoms, privledges, rights, and protections our society is willing to offer but should, instead, be permitted the economic advantage of not paying for them ?????

    Why should this corporate citizen sleep under the blanket of protection provided by our nation and not contribute on an equal basis as the rest of us do ???

    According to the Charlie McCarthy I listened to at Safeway yesterday . .. it’s because they’ll “leave” . . . and take their precious little company and their jobs with them. Hmmmm – sounds a bit like a form of blackmail I think. Gosh, I was so hoping Amazon was a standup citizen, not someone that would hold their community hostage.

    And, you know what, if that’s the way you feel Mr. Bezos and Mr. Elwood – knock yourself out.

    If THAT’S the way you do business – I for one say get the F*** out of MY HOUSE. Frankly, we dont WANT you here. . . . .

    See –

    RESPONSIBLE members of our society are GLAD to meet their obligations to their communities.

    Because it’s a privledge.

    Because however F***ed up *you* might think it is – there are hordes of individuals trying to make this their home.

    Because it happens to be amongst the best in the world.

    But with those rights, and freedoms, comes a cost, and a responsibility. Which MOST of us seem to understand is a requirement of being a citizen (corporate or private).

    Amazon was granted a reprieve, as an emerging technology and business venue, from some of those responsibilities way back in their earliest days – – – and rightfully so. As a start-up, an emerging and untried business model, I’m glad we did that.

    But, now, they’ve earned their place in the business community. Theirs is no longer an emerging business model. In fact, they are a viable competitor to many other established businesses. Some folks struggle to compete with them and so, now, it’s time for them to play by the very same rules that the rest of us do.

    And, Smellwood and Mr. Bezos – if you don’t “get” any of this – – – please, I encourage you to get the hell out of town, and out of THIS country. . . . there are lots of places in the world for people like you. . . . please, please, please – – Mr. Bezos, pack up your company and, Elwood, your commentary – – – and leave.

  • John W

    Sara and Meg Who??? just doesn’t get it. Elwood is right. “Typical fuzzy-headed liberal thinking.” In the “take our country back,” no compromise new world order, you can’t raise taxes, even if the proposed solution for getting our fiscal house in order is $10 in spending cuts and $1 in taxes. That would be socialistic, you see. See Iowa TeaPublican debate. You can’t raise the debt ceiling to pay for obligations already incurred, says Iowa Straw Poll victor Michele Bachmann. Can’t spend money we don’t have, even if we already done spent it and now just don’t want to pay for it. Under the Laugher (a/k/a Laffer) Curve, revenue always goes up when you cut tax rates. Therefore, we should cut the top federal income tax rate to 1 percent and watch revenues zoom. Also, half of tax filers pay no income taxes (mostly lower income folk but a few of the wealthiest too). So, what we need to do is raise taxes on the half who don’t pay. However, pursuant to the blood oath to Grover Norquist, it has to be revenue neutral. So, obviously, what we need to do while raising taxes on the lower half is to offset that by cutting taxes on the upper half.

  • Elwood

    “Why shouldn’t Amazon pay for the same freedoms and privledges (sic) and services WE ALL DO ????? ”

    Because they have no presence in CA.

    If I order a bridge from China do I pay CA sales taxes on it? I don’t think so.

    Give up on this argument. It’s a non-starter. Why don’t you give us your “fair share” rant instead?

  • Sara and Meg WHO ???!!!!

    Nah – Smellwood – the non-starter is you in this debate . . . . and your scratched-record-mentality stuck on the “CANT RAISE TAXES ON ANYONE ” argument – which includes those who dont pay zip squat NOW !!!

    Which is completely ignorant of the economic straits we’re in but, hey – you keep protecting those rich-gettin-richer who refuse to pay their fair share and keep rolling out that sound-bite reasoning and you may get a few signatures at the Safeway.

    The “physical presence” argument is about as tired as your preoccupation with and use of topical redirects and personalized B.S which I’m guessing you (and you alone) find humor-ass – – – or something.

  • Common Tater

    Kind of reminds me that a few years ago the rapacious California government forced their government retirees to pay taxes on their retirement income even though they had MOVED OUT OF STATE.

    Get this – these folks worked all their lives in California and paid their fair share of taxes throughout their working life. Then they retired, moved out of California (can you blame them) and were still on the hook for paying income taxes to California.

    The courts settled that mess in favor of sanity.

    Watch out, folks. The libs will try anything and do anything to get their hands on your money.

  • Elwood

    “”The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.” –Margaret Thatcher

  • Common Tater

    Dear No. 4, 7, and 11

    Are you trying to spell “Sarah” as in “Sarah Palin?”

    Just curious…

  • Elwood

    “those who dont pay zip squat NOW !!!”

    That would be half the population of the country, the entitlement constituency of which you are so fond. They are leeches on society. And don’t get me started on the earned income tax credit.

    Surely you have a better “fair share” rant than that.

    And your childish use of thinly disguised obscenity/profanity indicates low intelligence.

  • John W

    Gosh, I actually learned something from this blog today, thanks to Common Tater. Being a relative newbie to CA, I’ve often wondered about the tax treatment for those who take their public pensions and emigrate to NV, TX, or WA. Legalities aside, it just shows to go how many ways the taxpayers in CA get screwed by the pensions. First, we pay for pensions that have a lifetime payout 3-4 times as great as the rare defined benefit plan in the private sector. Second, we increasingly don’t get the services taxes are supposed to pay for, because the money goes to excessive retiree pension and health care benefits instead. Third, when somebody retires at 55 with a comfortable lifetime pension, we have to pay a second person to do the job the retiree should still be doing. Fourth, the retiree moves out of state and doesn’t even spend the money in the state. Fifth, they don’t pay the taxes on their retirement income that their working replacements have to pay. Oh well!

  • Sara and Meg WHO ???!!!

    Single digit IQ is all I bring to the table, Smellwoodie.

    But hey – the only thing sadder than the RNC’s “thinking” that Sarah Palin represented the very best they had to offer up in the way of running mates in 2008. . .. is that YOU were stuck in THIS debate with stupid ol’ me. . . .

    Next time, just walk away.

    LMAO ! ! ! ! ! !

  • Elwood

    @ #21

    Apparently you are debating yourself.

    And it’s nice that you learned how to spell Sarah.

    You owe Common Tater a debt of gratitude.

  • JoesphPark

    This seems to be a common sense issue to me. Why is it so hard for everyone in our state to pay the sales tax? We are supposed to pay the use tax anyway. I know no one wants too, but it is part of enjoying the perks of our sales tax/ our civic duty. I’m not saying that it is right to boycott Amazon, but Amazon is playing a bully currently. They know that they should just collect the tax already. This needs to be taken to the national level, but until then CA should be able to collect the tax.

  • Daniel

    More people should follow this example. Amazon is bullying state legislatures around the country into getting this unfair competitive advantage. For everyone saying that they can buy everything cheaper online at Amazon, that’s because they receive a 6-8% advantage over their competitors on everything they sell. They already have enough of an advantage with their business model being online so they have very low overhead. The least they could do is collect the same taxes everyone else has to.

  • The Law

    I just wanted to point out that this argument isn’t about NEW taxes at all. No matter if Amazon collects or doesn’t collect sales tax, YOU STILL OWE IT. It’s called use tax so look it up. The problem is that people don’t pay it (IE breaking the law). Therefore, instead of putting the burden on the consumer to make sure they keep all their Amazon receipts for an entire year, the new law would make Amazon responsible to collect it.

    And please, don’t make the argument that it would be too much of a burden on them. Walmart.com, Target.com and others all already do it so it won’t be hard for a multi-billion dollar company like Amazon to do it as well.

  • Just a Patriot

    Completely agree with The Law. These people owe taxes on the goods they buy, and trust me, they aren’t paying it. Amazon has to avoid collecting taxes to skew their prices. Otherwise, people really aren’t saving money. Local and state governments are losing out on money, while businesses lose customers.

  • Elwood

    What part of no presence in CA do you people not understand?

    See: Quill Corp. v. North Dakota, 504 U.S. 298 (1992)


  • Elwood



  • SandyfromMO

    I am surprised that any brick-and-mortar businesses are still open in California.

  • Sara and Meg WHO ????!!!!

    “What part of no presence in CA do you people not understand ?”

    What part of “online” transactions/business presence do YOU not understand ?

    The legal reference you provide is outdated and irrelevant except in the context of traditional brick and morter institutions. . . . which, Yahoo is not.

    THE CURRENT AMAZON DEBATE is simply about paying your fair share for the services, protections, freedoms and opportunities citizens and residents of our nation enjoy.

    For more about folks who would ascribe to this same “presence” argument, see here – – –


  • Elwood

    “The legal reference you provide is outdated and irrelevant except in the context of traditional brick and morter institutions. . . . which, Yahoo is not.”

    Supreme Court decisions don’t have expiration dates, fool! They’re not final because they’re right, they’re right because they’re final.

    And why do you keep posting about Yahoo?

    Have you been in the cooking sherry again?

  • Bob

    Seriously? They expect people to boycott Amazon so that they can pay sales tax on their purchases? What planet are these guys from?

  • Sara and Meg WHO ???!!!!

    “Supreme Court decisions don’t have expiration dates, fool!”

    Oh – goodness.

    I had so hoped you were in touch with the American legal system.

    Please tell me Smellwoodie understands that law does become obsolete.

    Please tell me Smellwoodie DOES have a grasp on the reality of American case law.

    Here’s some High School level reading for you Smellwood –

    “The Court will, however, on very rare occasions, reverse previous Supreme Court decisions when it sees no alternative but to reject a “bad” or outdated decision.”

    (operative word here is “outdated” – – – nimrod)


  • Elwood


    Thank you, brilliant legal scholar!

    The Supreme Court can reverse itself, and on occasion does.

    Until such time as that happens, however, all its decisions remain in full force and effect. Even the ones rendered way back in 1992.

  • Sara and Meg WHO ???!!!

    Smellwoodie says – “Supreme Court decisions don’t have expiration dates, fool! They’re not final because they’re right, they’re right because they’re final.”

    But *THEN* Smellwoodie says – “The Supreme Court can reverse itself, and on occasion does.”

    This dimwit exists on these pages for one reason – — to fan the flames of dissention and titillate in any manner possible.

    THe very same tactic and profile of behavior exists on several other MNG blogs.

    Too bad Elwoodie and the other MNG sock puppets can’t figure out how to build interest while simultaneously adhereing to some modicum of reason and, more importantly, making a conscious decision to avoid the highly personalized insults.

    The end result of Elwood’s crap is that quality dialogue and debate is subordinated to MNG’s need for Google ad-sense revenue streams.

    Loads of alternative quality discussion sites exist. . . . . abandon hope all ye who enter here.

  • Josh Richman

    Sorry, Sara. Elwood is definitely not a sock puppet; he’s for real (or as real as he chooses to be).

    Blogs attract trolls. However, although I’ve accused him of being an unmitigated troll in the past – and still don’t feel great about the condescending, mean-spirited tone he often takes – I have noticed him making somewhat more of an effort recently to argue his cases with more than just his usual junior-high locker-room taunts.

    Besides, if you really did believe – utterly without foundation – that Elwood is a sock puppet, your wisest course would be not to answer him at all.

  • Elwood

    What the bleep is MNG?

  • John W

    Like Elwood, I still want to know what an MNG is.

    Don’tcha sometimes wonder what the dialog would be like if we frequent commenters were in a room together and having our conversation (one-on-one or as a group) face-to-face instead of behind the door of anonymity? There used to be a few people (seemed to be county GOP party types) who used their real names, but they have long since abandoned us.

  • Josh Richman

    MNG is MediaNews Group, parent company of the Bay Area News Group.

  • John W

    Geez, I know MediaNewsGroup and should have figured out the MNG. In the “sock puppet” context, I thought it was some kind of slur.