Robot 6

Batkid event cost San Francisco (but not taxpayers) $105,000

batkidTransforming San Francisco into Gotham on Nov. 15 to help fulfill a 5-year-old leukemia patient’s wish to be Batman cost the city $105,000 — but none of that will come from the pockets of taxpayers.

The celebration, which saw Miles “Batkid” Scott accompany Batman as they apprehended the Penguin and the Riddler, drew crowds estimated at 14,500 — far more than the few hundred anticipated by the Make-A-Wish Foundation — and garnered international media attention. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the bill will be paid from the fees charged to conventions that use the Moscone Center. Make-A-Wish Greater Bay Area is also reportedly seeking private donations to help reimburse the city.

Most of the money was eaten up by the last-minute rental of a sound systems, video screens and other equipment when the crowd gathered at City Hall to watch Mayor Ed Lee present Miles with a chocolate key to the city proved too large.

“What started out as a few hundred people at most on the steps of City Hall … grew into what would obviously attract a 20,000-plus crowd,” Christine Falvey, the mayor’s communications director, told The Associated Press. “They weren’t going to see anything the way we originally had it set up.”

No additional costs were racked up by the police or public works departments, which staffed the event with personnel working their regular shifts.

While the Batkid celebration was the feel-good story of last week, with warm wishes pouring in from everyone from the cast of Arrow to President Obama, it did have its critics — most notably San Francisco Supervisor Eric Mar, who on the day of the event tweeted, “Wondering how many 1000s of SF kids living off SNAP/FoodStamps could have been fed from the $$.”

The backlash — or is it bat-lash — sent Mar reeling, and he quickly issued a press release clarifying, “I simply wanted to urge that we, as a city, find similar amounts of love, compassion and empathy for children living every day in dire circumstances who, in the vast majority of cases, will not be supported or even recognized by our society.”

Although he and his family are said to be overwhelmed by all of the media attention, Miles is otherwise doing well: His leukemia is in remission, and he had his final chemotherapy treatment over the summer.

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Comments

20 Comments

I’m sorry, but that headline is at best partially true. To the extent that “the bill will be paid from the fees charged to conventions that use the Moscone Center,” those fees are not going to be available for other things that the city would do. I have no idea which things those are, but I’ll bet at least some of them are things that San Francisco’s taxpayers want. To the extent that Make-a-Wish can get private donors to cover the cost, that’s another story. (I hope any such gifts won’t come at the expense of other charitable contributions from those donors.)

To decide it’s worth $105,000 to grant a child’s wish and perhaps give the general public a psychic boost is one thing. But to pretend that doing so doesn’t cost the public anything is just bogus.

All the illegal immigrants this rotten city harbors should fork over some dough!

It was worth every penny.

I’m gonna start calling Perry “Mr. Grumpy”…wow.

I’m with Eric Mar. There are other ways to spend that much money that would help a lot more children in more meaningful ways, so it’s good that the taxpayers aren’t on the hook for it. I’m sure Make a Wish made way more than that from the surge in donations they got from the publicity for this event.

Eh, I dunno there, Perry, it seems like they’ll definitely make up the money with the fees and the donations that are sure to come in due to the publicity.

Then again, a lot of these wonderfully astute San Franciscan taxpayers thought they were going to be getting “free healthcare”, so if they end up footing the bill and getting screwed over, that’s just par for the course and they’ll be sure to rationalize it anyway as being George Bush’s fault.

In all honesty, though, I think this was definitely money well spent.

I would think that the funds would come from the hotel taxes that the city collects for tourists who stay in hotels in San Francisco. Most convention centers in each city are funded by the Hotel Tax Revenue (which doesn’t mingle with city taxes), so the tourists that visit and stay in San Francisco picked up the tab. But $105K, that is really nothing in hotel tax, especially for a big city like San Francisco. I worked in a small city, 150k population, tourist office and our tax revenue collected in a year was easily over a million and half. Besides, San Francisco tourism is going to write it off as advertising expense. And they are going to compare how much the event costs them and how much free publicity they got out of it. So its really a Win, Win for San Francisco.

“Most of the money was eaten up by the last-minute rental of a sound systems, video screens and other equipment when the crowd gathered at City Hall to watch Mayor Ed Lee present Miles with a chocolate key to the city proved too large.”

So the $ was spent on things to accommodate the crowds, NOT Batkid. The whole thing is supposed to be about the kid, not the masses. I don’t see how Batkid’s experience would have been much lessened by the absence of these things. These rentals should have been requested, and paid for, by the MAW Foundation (which maybe pays for itself, at least in part, via good PR) or should not have been procured at all.

“Most of the money was eaten up by the last-minute rental of a sound systems, video screens and other equipment when the crowd gathered at City Hall to watch Mayor Ed Lee present Miles with a chocolate key to the city proved too large.”

So the rental companies couldn’t have donated their use for a charitable cause?

Would’ve been better to donate it for african kids.

I am sure there are plenty of other huge expenditures by SF that was of little benefit. But again, this expenditure changed the life of a kid, brought in over 10,000 people across the Bay to join a cause in unison, and gripped the nation’s heart. Looks like a media-win to me.

Did we really have to know how much it costs? I get that it’s used to say, “look how much we did for this little guy!” but some things shouldn’t be about money and numbers.

I almost wish this was done with taxpayer dollars so we could look at this and say, “This is the kind of people we are. For one day, we made this child who has gone through utter Hell feel special and cared for.” I can’t imagine anyone with a child of their own criticizing this.

San Francisco doesn’t have any money. It’s a hunk of land on the West coast. All money that could ever be considered “San Francisco’s” is effectively taxpayer money. You can call it what you want, but this wasn’t paid for with magical dollars that could only have gone towards this specific gesture.

It would be nice if this didn’t have to be explained to people. The government does not generate money. All government money is taxpayer money. I’m at least a little uncomfortable with how much this thing cost (not to be a grinch or anything) but I’m truly irked by the assertion that this didn’t cost SF taxpayers anything.

Hey all, I live in Ontario, Canada where our Government consulted no one to build two power plants in a heavily populated area and then closed them mid-build to save 2 seats in an election. Total cost to taxpayers, $1billion and counting. I only wish my government could spend $105K on something so good as making a dying kid’s life better. 105K is what, like, paying for a year of an inmate’s incarceration?

I just find it sad that this is even an issue, that this is news worthy and that there are people that are complaining the city shouldn’t have spent the money to give a sick child his wish.
Just sad.

It’s all advertising. It puts SF back into the public consciousness and, perhaps, will motivate some to take a trip there. A $100k marketing event isn’t that pricey, especially when its a feel good story like this.

If you’re going to grant a dying child’s wish it would probably be best to shut the f*** up about what it cost, especially when they’re trying to play cover your a** with statements like “it wasn’t even taxpayer money”. All Government money is tax payer money since the Government is not a business. It doesn’t generate profit. I’m happy for the kid, but that’s a lot of money. If you’re going to spend it like that on one kid, fine, that’s nice and all, but shut up about it. Was anyone really asking how much it cost? I don’t recall seeing that ever. But now that the cat is out of the bag, I have to say I’m not entirely against those who would have misgivings about the way this was spent.

I sympathize with what this poor child and his family must be going through, I really do. I cant even begin to imagine the pain his parents must be going through watching their child battle cancer, God Bless them. But, I just don’t see all the hoopla over ONE kid, when there are countless in the city, let alone the country that are going through similar if not worst circumstances than he is. I just read a story today about a kid who DIED of cancer, this kid at least is beating and appears to be doing well. Call me Scrooge but all the fuss created over this seems unfair and yes, questions needs to be asked about where the funds came from and if it was really worth it – I mean, was this done at the expense of other childrens wishes who were just as worthy as this child of a dream come true? Put yourself in THAT parents position.

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