As noted Monday, the scheduled return of Rose Pak to San Francisco following an extended medical stay in China was expected to draw a crowd of at least 100 well-wishers and a bus convoy that would be whisking her back to a big luncheon and lion dance yesterday. Now we have video and photo coverage of her big welcome, and it's kind of crazy who showed up.
The longtime Chinatown power player, looking visibly a bit thinner in the face in the video above from ABC 7, stepped off her plane at SFO Monday to be greeted by longtime pal and former mayor Willie Brown, Lieutenant Governor and former mayor Gavin Newsom, Supervisors Jane Kim, David Campos, Norman Yee, and Aaron Peskin, City Attorney Dennis Herrera, Mayor Ed Lee, Acting Police Chief Toney Chaplin, and numerous other friends and supporters including Gordon Chin, head of the Chinatown Community Development Center, and Elisa Stephens, the embattled president of Academy of Art University.
As SF Magazine notes about the photo below, which was circulated by Pak's people and in which Pak is gesturing at Stephens, you can see the city attorney standing and smiling behind Stephens despite the fact he and the city are currently suing the Academy of Art over more than a decade of shady real estate dealings in which the Planning Department estimates that 75 percent of the for-profit university's building's are being illegally used. (Per the Examiner, that's because Pak may be gunning for Stephens' side in this, advocating for the university's housing at any cost, and Stephens even took out one of the vintage Rolls Royces in her car collection to ferry Brown and Pak back to the city.)
But see, Rose Pak brings everybody together!
The Examiner also has a bunch of pics of the welcome party, and a report on the initial welcome gala at an event room at SFO before a scheduled luncheon back in Chinatown at the Far East Cafe. Showing her signature humor and hubris, Pak stood before the crowd saying that her doctors told her she could live another 50 or 60 years though the exact nature of her illness, besides kidney trouble, remains unclear. She noted that 58 people from her hometown of San Francisco all came to see her during eight-month convalescence, most of them helping to boost her spirits.
But, per the Ex, she said, "There was a small amount of people who came to make sure I was going to die." And to those people, she said, “I dedicate the next five years to taking care of each one of you!"
This of course was met with much hearty laughter.
As ABC 7 notes, while all kinds of people question how big a role Pak has played in SF governance and the propriety of it all, there's no question she has played a major behind-the-scenes role in at least the past three mayoral administrations, often advocating on behalf of her neighborhood though her influence clearly does not end there. Newsom was quoted saying, "You can't critique someone for stepping up and stepping in."
And the station got Mayor Lee to speak to the issue of his falling out with Pak in which she went so far as to tell an SF Mag reporter last August, while on a hospital visit, that he is "the biggest disappointment of my life."
Lee now says, "We agree 99 percent and so when we have disagreement, we respect each other." Yeah whatever, "biggest disappointment." That's a whole lot of respect there.