Mayor Ed Lee won reelection on Tuesday, but who is really in charge at City Hall? Famed (and feared) powerbroker Rose Pak asserted this week that the Mayor is in fact controlled by his own Chief of Staff Steve Kawa, and that real power in City Hall lies with a trio of three unelected men working behind the scenes. Is this merely bluster from an ally-turned-enemy, or is there truth behind the claim?
Rose Pak and Mayor Lee were at one point thick as thieves, with many saying that she was the original driving force behind the then appointed Mayor's decision to break his promise not to seek election and run for the office of Mayor (for those of you who just moved here, Lee was appointed Mayor by the Board of Supervisors in early 2011 when Gavin Newsom was elected Lieutenant Governor).
At some point, possibly when the Mayor decided to appoint Julie Christensen to the District 3 Supervisor seat after then D3 Supervisor David Chiu was elected to the State Assembly, Pak and Lee began to part ways — something that Pak talked about in an August interview with SF Mag, and now again in an interview with SF Weekly.
Speaking of Chief of Staff Steve Kawa, angel investor and Lee superfan Ron Conway, and Lee Senior Advisor Tony Winnicker, Pak was quick to share her thoughts about who really runs the show.
"They control who sees [the Mayor] and not sees him," Pak told the Weekly. "When the mayor meets with anybody, one of those henchmen is sitting next to him."
"I’ve never seen anyone under such control," continued Pak.
The three men, who Pak (hilariously) refers to as "the baldies," have deep ties to City Hall. SF Weekly notes that Kawa is called "the shadow mayor" by some.
Pak is not done there, claiming that for Kawa and Winnicker, the number one priority is their own political survival.
"They are the people that never had the talent of their own except to survive in a political arena," said Pak. "They need to foster a fight between the mayor and the Board to justify their existence. If the mayor gets along with the Board, there's no reason for them to get around and play their Machiavellian games."
These comments follow an earlier statement made by Pak that the "Mayor got no balls."
We may never known who truly runs the show at City Hall, but after this week we sure know what Rose Pak thinks.