An effort to recall Mayor Ed Lee is underway, but Lee has plenty of backing in his corner. (Emma Chiang/Special to S.F. Examiner)

Rose Pak and Chinatown interests organize against Mayor Lee recall

Radical political opposition is ramping up its effort to recall Mayor Ed Lee. But before they can get to him, they’ll have to get past his muscle: Rose Pak.

The community organizer — or power broker, depending who you ask — is pushing back against the effort to kick Mayor Lee out of office.

She told On Guard the recall has implications beyond the mayor.

“It took us 160 years for Chinese-Americans to elect the first Chinese-American mayor,” Pak said, and the recall would be devastating.

She and the mayor have been at odds as of late. Acknowledging this, Pak said, “Whether I agree with Ed Lee or not, he did not cause malfeasance.”

Pak is planning a rally at Portsmouth Square in Chinatown at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, and that’s just the start — the fireworks will spark well before then.

Mike Murphy, a local Green Party leader, activist and professional gardener, is among those leading the recall effort. He’s pushed the Department of Elections to allow him to file a “notice of intention” for the recall effort, though DOE head John Arntz disagreed over the time period in which Murphy is legally allowed to file.

“We’re going after Arntz,” Murphy said. “I want his job.”

So Murphy and a cadre of allies plan to go to the Department of Elections and try filing once again on Friday. Murphy even lawyered up — and his representation is Curtis Briggs.

Briggs, readers may recall, was recently an attorney for Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow.

Deirdre Hussey, spokesperson for Mayor Lee simply said “We’re focused on the job at hand.”

In a weird twist, Pius Lee, a former police and port commissioner who is sometimes a political opponent of Pak, is organizing another effort to defend the mayor.

“It’s unfair to recall Mayor Lee just because he cannot take care of the problems just as fast as the progressive groups want,” Pius told me.

(Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story named Pius Lee as chair of the Chinatown Neighborhood Association. Lee’s statements were not made in an official capacity with the neighborhood group.)

Pius Lee and some of his allies — who reportedly include business interests across San Francisco — pooled their money to purchase ads in Chinese-language papers like The World Journal and Sing Tao Daily to call counterprotesters to City Hall on Friday morning.

Pius Lee said they plan to form a campaign committee to raise funds against the recall.

Murphy took the planned protests in stride.

“They should be able to exercise their constitutional rights, and so should we. That’s what this is all about,” Murphy said.

As far as the allegation that the recall will harm Chinese-Americans, Murphy said, “That did not enter into the equation for me at all.”

Instead, Murphy said Lee is simply the most vulnerable player in a “corrupt” political system, which includes long-time Mayoral Chief of Staff Steve Kawa and the billionaire angel investor Ron Conway, who poured buckets of money into little local races, among others.

“We can’t recall Steve Kawa,” Murphy said. “We can’t dismantle the richest families in the country.”

Lee, however, is fair game.

On Guard prints the news and raises hell each week. Email him at BriggsDeirdre HusseyJohn ArntzMayor Ed LeeOn GuardPius LeeRose PakSan Francisco

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