Q&A: Rose Pak Talks About State Senator Leland Yee and the Central Subway

Categories: Politics

Rose Pak-3.jpg
Caroline Chen
Leland Yee leaves a bad taste in Pak's mouth.
Rose Pak, notorious Chinatown activist and the supposed mastermind behind the Run Ed Run campaign, is one of the best-known characters in San Francisco. This week, SF Weekly sat down to dish with Pak about politics, her projects and passions, and life before becoming the biggest power broker in San Francisco.

Last time: Pak thinks Mayor Ed Lee can be persuaded to run. In this installment: Pak rails on state Senator Leland Yee, who is also running for San Francisco mayor. She also talks about her 40-year battle for the Central Subway.

Between Mayor Ed Lee, Oakland Mayor Jane Quan, and Supervisor David Chiu, it seems that more and more Chinese-Americans are involved in political roles. Is it your priority to see more Chinese-Americans as political leaders?
Yes, and the right Chinese-American leadership. It's very critical that we have people that really hail from the community, that understand the story of immigrant communities and have an affinity with the immigrants.

Unfortunately, a lot of our people work so hard to come here for a green card for making a livelihood, but once they make it, they leave and they don't come back. I don't blame them, but we need our people to come back and help the next generation of immigrants and to teach them empowered politicalment [sic] -- that they can't just sit around waiting for someone to help them, they have to help themselves. The people who have the education, that have the knowhow, also have a moral obligation to help the less advantaged ones.

So if our Chinese-American leadership don't share that affinity and don't understand that you have to help our own people to achieve to that level, then I have nothing I want to contribute to you.

How about Leland Yee? He's a Chinese-American politician.
Leland Yee is one of the most morally corrupt politicians I've ever encountered in 40 years. From the first day he stepped in as the school board member, lying to get his children to the preferred assigned school using a phony address, selling his services to Chinese-American parents who would cut an arm or leg to get their kid to the right schools ... he did all of that.

So I don't think he stood for anything decent in our community except to come and take money and then claiming to be the first Asian this and Asian that, but he doesn't impress me. He doesn't stand for anything except corruption and bribery. 

SF Weekly contacted Yee's campaign office for a response to Pak's comments. Campaign manager Jim Stearn responded, "We have no response to those kinds of wild accusations without any basis in facts."

Tell me about the Central Subway. That's been one of your big projects.
Forty years ago, when San Francisco was looking to build Mission Bay, Bayview-Hunters Point, downtown Moscone Center, the waterfront, and Treasure Island, they also were looking at transit corridors and they had all the lines they were planning on the master plan for Third Street light rail, from Bayview-Hunters Point all the way to the waterfront.

And I said, "Huh? What happened to Chinatown?" I envisioned that if we don't have access to public transit, then our community would suffer -- that when they built and connected up all those areas, we would be isolated.

I also knew for a fact that the Chinese-American immigrants would be buying there, because they're the only affordable areas. So how do you connect the communities together? I know the habits of our people. Our seniors will all come back to Chinatown for support, for church support, family association, social networking. How do they come here? And the new immigrants working in our restaurants, how would they commute to work?

I saw that 40 years ago, and I thought, "The city is planning all of this without our people in mind." So I just carved myself a seat on the Citizens Advisory Board on the Third Street light rail panel, and I've been sitting there all those years.

There's no conspiracy, you know, bullshit! [Park starts pounding the table for emphasis.] I just sat there, and I sat there, and I sat there, and I attended hundreds of meetings to make sure at every turn I was there, pushing for this second phase to come to Chinatown.

You've been oft quoted as saying you play politics as a blood sport ...
Well, they treat it as a blood sport, so you have to be consistent and play it! Otherwise, they push you over. But it is the persistency and the consistency -- I stick with it. People only look at your victories. They don't look at the blood, sweat, and tears that you put in.

For 40 years we fought for the Central Subway. The whole community wrote thousands of letters of support. We were there at every turn. We proved that Chinatown is one of the most densely populated areas outside of Manhattan. That nearly 70 percent are without cars and rely on public transit, and that 67 percent of our people are below the poverty line, so they will never have a car. So yes, we fought very hard for it. We never gave up, that's all.


Up Next: A Day in the Life of Rose Pak

Follow us on Twitter at @TheSnitchSF and @SFWeekly.

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29 comments
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Tropics
Tropics

http://www.facebook.com/profil... Yee Mr. Yee's colorful history a lawmakera womanizera prostitute OOPS! arrested in Hawaii for shoplifting a dirty man >enjoy looking at things that inspire a sexual response= big boobs, a sexy walk, a pretty face, a great figure, long toned legs, or a 'nice phat ass.' he likes sex, he enjoys imagining himself having it with as many hot bodied females as possible -- touching her, feeling her body against his, slapping her ass.. Gosh!

VW
VW

Whoa, give a warning about the picture next time will you.

David Elliott Lewis
David Elliott Lewis

Anyone who tells you that Chinatown doesn't need a Central Subway has rarely or never taken public transit to get there.   I strongly recommend taking the Muni 30 bus a few times, during any daylight hour, Monday through Saturday, before commenting again.  You will get quite an education about why this area desperately needs these underground street cars.

-David Elliott Lewis_______________________________Photographer, Writer & Activisthttp://gplus.to/ideamanhttp://twitter.com/ideazones

guest
guest

Leland Yee = Ed Jew.. 

VW
VW

that's dumb.

Nesad
Nesad

Rose Pak is convinced the Central Subway will help Chinatown.  She clearly doesn't understand enough about the project to make that judgment.  A lot of people come to Chinatown from the western part of San Francisco.  The subway certainly won't help most of them.  Many of those who live or work in Chinatown operate along the section of Stockton between Jackson and Greenwich.  The subway leaves these people high and dry.  Somehow the subway planners managed to concoct a subway that would disconnect its riders from much of the rest of Muni.  Somehow Rose Pak seems to have sat on that Advisory Committee for all those years and missed all the key flaws in the project.

CRS
CRS

The proposed Central Subway is not really about efficient transportation. It never was.It's about the re-zoning of the land on the surface above it.

You can bet that for years now Pak and her cronies have been buying up the land along Stockton Street in advance of its re-zoning. The Planning Dept began that task in April. On either side of Stockton, property out to a quarter mile will be up-zoned to build taller, bulkier, lot-line to lot-line, with little or no off-street parking.

This will be a half-mile swath of newly zoned properties that are suddenly worth *substantially* more than they were worth under current zoning. Selling this land to developers, the owners will all make out like bandits.

One of the reasons that the CS was offered to Pak is that she bleated that Chinatown has been losing customers - purportedly to the aftermath of the freeway coming down. Nno so: it's because it's now possible to get specialty items online and in other nearby chinatowns, not because the freeway came down.

RalphJ_Kramden
RalphJ_Kramden

Caroline Chen, I don't know much about Chinatown politics, and San Francisco has about 5 different Chinatowns besides the original. The little I know tells me that the politics are dirty and there is a lot of corruption. Walk the streets at night and hear the yells coming out of those gambling casinos. The cops know, they are just getting paid off. Since you work for a paper in the City, please remind your readers of the time that those of us in the City were protesting about racial profiling in regards to terrorism and Feinstein said something like: Well, after all, we are not looking for a blue-eyed, blonde Swede. Eat crow Dianne.

Alex Brant-Zawadzki
Alex Brant-Zawadzki

In my humble opinion you REALLY coulda/shoulda used a slightly more flattering photo

Masterlock
Masterlock

She makes me ill, look at that fugly face.

Truth.ws
Truth.ws

OMG!!!!   I don't see any proof here. Besides, who doesn't want their children to have the best education they can get for them?

Dkcroker
Dkcroker

Boss Pak is no longer viable, just grumpy!

unluckyteen
unluckyteen

What are you doing writing such a tabloid article about him?  Is this publication so completely stupid as to say " He's a Chinese-American politician".  He's an American who happens to be Chinese and a politician.  Geezus

SanFrustration
SanFrustration

I may not agree with her on many issues, but I can say she is consistent in her passion for improving the lives of the Chinese Americans in San Francisco.  Just as progressives are activists for the downtrodden, she represents a similarly needy community.  Yet she does so with a lot more honesty and candor than Leland Yee, who is morally bankrupt and has lied his entire career.  His campaign will be interesting given the ranked-choice-voting, as he is not going to be able to appease every voter with his flip-flops and pandering tactics.

manDude
manDude

Well, to be honest, she does have a point about Chinese immigrants buying in Bayview and needing transportation to get back to Chinatown. And, she did sit through all the meetings and rallied her base to get what she wanted - individual/neighborhood politics aren't anything new in SF. As for all the hate on her turning SF into China, she's "racist", nightmare Asian politicians she created, etc., yikes SF, guess that whole liberal white guilt thing has worn off.

censored
censored

I hardly think Sales represents all of SF. There's plenty to criticize Pak for without resorting to racist, sexist and ageist statements.

manDude
manDude

Yes, agree with you on the critique opportunities for Rose Pak (as with all politicians/community builders/activists/etc.). TO be fair though, Sales comments echo a general sentiment, IMHO, of SF politics with all the Asians who recently have been elected. Just my observation, I may be wrong, who knows, moreover, who cares?

Sales
Sales

At least she is honest......she says her position to create a taxpayer subsidized pipeline between SF and China. LOL, China economy is expanding far faster than SF!!! When she sucks SF dry, which won't take long, will she then move back to China and start importing Chinese-Americans into China so they can have a better life. This uglyoldwoman owns Ed Lee, reason enough not to vote for him as well as David Chiu.

Sales
Sales

WhoTF is this woman? She seems to wield a lot of power in SF and it mostly ends generating nightmare Asian pols like Yee, Lee, Chiu, Chu, Kim, and Jew (in prison).

Stevied20
Stevied20

Doesn't sound like she cares about any San Franciscan's who aren't Chinese or Chinese-American. Racist? Yeah....

GetReal
GetReal

How is it racism to advocate for racial equality in political representation?  If the Chinese Americans were over represented and she was advocating then call it racism.  It is not racism to work towards making sure your children and grandchildren for once have the same employment and political opportunities as Caucasians.  

Bobator2
Bobator2

Rose Pak -- Leland Yee ?

Pot and Kettle ...

Mdg1111
Mdg1111

Why is SF Weekly participating in the Leland Yee hatchet job? Rose Pak doesn't sound like a real prize either.

coppersmom
coppersmom

what rose pak is saying is that she can't control Leland Yee...nuff said.

Yum Yum
Yum Yum

I don't know Rose Pak - never met her, so I can't judge her character, but I've known Leland Yee for a decade.  All I can say is every word Rose Pak said about Mr. Yee is true.  News reports say Mr. Yee never lost a race since he entered politics...but he never fought anything honestly - everything was won by hook and by crook!  For that reason, I think Rank Choice Voting is the most brilliant idea to preserve democracy!  (Until the crooks figure a way to undermine it) 

censored
censored

Morally corrupt?  I'd say playing Willie Brown's stooge for all these years would raise more questions about Pak's morals than anything she has to say about Leland Yee. I think it's time to dethrone this never-elected has-been and stop with the smear campaigns already. Why is SF Weekly giving so much space to Wille Brown's agenda in this election?

smb5
smb5

Anyone with any common sense will tell you that the Central Subway is a waste of time and resources. Buses are the backbone of our system; a 1.7 mile railway that costs $1.7 billion isn't doing anyone any good. Except Rose Pak, maybe.  She paints herself as a visionary because she had an idea 40 years ago. Except that the idea is stale, and transit ideas and needs have changed.  And to call Leland Yee morally corrupt is a joke. Rose Pak has never once been elected by voters to office, so I have no idea where she gets off bashing Yee. This woman needs to take her divisive outdated politics away.

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