Rose Pak is back and, boy, does she know how to make an entrance.
Lions jumped, drums pounded and powerful politicians crowded ’round Pak like puppies waiting for a belly rub.
The scene played out at San Francisco International Airport shortly after Pak — who is a Chinatown community leader or powerbroker, depending on who you ask — touched down from China, where she sought medical care for kidney failure last year.
She was surrounded by an unlikely scrum of uber-excited politicos.
Just a sampling of folks present … Da Mayor Willie Brown, Mayor Ed Lee, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, Interim Police Chief Toney Chaplin, former chief Fred Lau, lobbyists Sam Lauter and Chris Gruwell, supervisors Aaron Peskin, Jane Kim, David Campos and Norman Yee, contractor Walter Wong, head of Public Works Mohammed Nuru, Malcolm Yeung of the Chinatown Community Development Center, and media impresario Lee Houskeeper.
Conspicuously missing were “the baldies” — the mayor’s right-hand men, Tony Winnicker (who said he was visiting his mother) and Steve Kawa — who Pak has occasionally accused of being the mayor’s puppeteers.
Also missing were District Attorney George Gascon and supervisors Scott Wiener and Mark Farrell.
Pak entered the fancy gala room in SFO, just behind its museum, to a welcoming crowd of Chinatown elders from the community.
She looks as healthy as ever, and that’s not just talk — Pak said her doctors say she’s got “40 to 50 years more” of life. During the last eight months, 58 people came to visit her, she said, giving her “energy and spirit” to nurture her health.
“There was a small amount of people who came to make sure I was going to die,” Pak told the crowd. And for those who “harbored those illusions,” she gave warning:
“I dedicate the next five years to taking care of each one of you!”
The crowd howled in laughter, even though some likely knew she’s seriously, actually, really coming for them.
“Everybody is on my list,” she told On Guard. “They haven’t come through with housing. They haven’t come through with one thing or another. The Broadway [and Washington project], a lot of things.”
Pak zeroed in on Academy of Art University. “I want them to settle the dispute with the [university],” she said, referring to City Attorney Dennis Herrera’s (who was there) lawsuit, “because I want to create housing.”
I’m sure Academy of Art University President Elisa Stephens (also present) was glad to know Pak may be on her side. Maybe that’s why Stephens lent a vintage Rolls Royce to swing Pak, Willie and Nuru to Chinatown.
Political allies ride in style.
Above, a police escort takes off ahead of a Rolls Royce with Rose Pak, Willie Brown, and Mohammed Nuru inside.
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Comedian and new CNN personality W. Kamau Bell interviewed the “Frisco 5” hunger strikers on his KALW show “Kamau Right Now!” last Thursday — the same day San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr resigned.
Three members of The Frisco 5 — Edwin Lindo, Ilyich “Equipto” Sacho and Sellassie Blackwell — took the stage at Oakland’s Starline Social Club to a standing ovation.
“Now I have to ask the dumb question, because that’s what I do,” Bell said, off air, “What was the first thing you ate after the hunger strike?”
Blackwell practically drooled. Doctors at UC San Francisco made his first meal in 17 days a dramatic reveal, he said.
“They give you a tray. You have to open up the tray.” When he opened it, he said, “They gave me one scrambled egg. When I saw that egg, I said, ‘Oh, my, god.’”
Makes me hungry just thinkin’ about it.
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Sen. Dianne Feinstein is goin’ Angry Birds on Airbnb’s illegal housing — co-sponsoring a new measure at the local Democratic Party board (the Dee-triple-Cee) that aims to knock the tech titan down plank by plank.
She’s not the only one to throw her weight behind the new resolution, which is co-sponsored by Supervisor David Campos, Sen. Mark Leno, and DCCC member Meagan Levitan. It calls for “hosting platforms to immediately delist illegal and unregistered units” and to urge the Board of Supervisors “to revise San Francisco’s short-term rental ordinance to establish fines for platforms that offer illegal, unregistered units to tourists,” which would support similar legislation at the board.
The DCCC will vote on it this Wednesday at its regular meeting, where it will no doubt ruffle feathers.
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This column last week predicted Toney Chaplin was in the running for chief, for those keeping track. The only surprise was the speed.
And one more recent On Guard rumor is heatin’ up: Those seeking to place a ballot measure to recall Mayor Lee are raising $10,000 to lawyer up, seeking to file their intent before the date the Department of Elections told them they could file, in July.
On Guard prints the news and raises hell each Tuesday. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.