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The Rose Pak Welcome Wagon Is a Who's Who of Political Frenemies

See you in court. Or at Rose’s next thing!

AAU president Elisa Stephens stands between Rose Pak and Supervisor Aaron Peskin.


After several months away for medical treatment in China, formidable power broker and lion in winter Rose Pak landed this morning at SFO. With great power comes great ground transportation: More than 100 friends and supporters hired a bus convoy from Chinatown to the airport to welcome Pak home and then whisk her off for lunch and a lion dance. The group of notables captured here smiling with Pak includes none other than Mayor Ed Lee, former mayor Willie Brown Jr, Supervisors Aaron Peskin, David Campos, Norman Yee, and Jane Kim, City Attorney Dennis Herrera, and Academy of Art University president Elisa Stephens. Wait, WHAT?

Yes, that’s the same Stephens (in red) whose institution Herrera (seen smiling directly to her right) is suing for, allegedly, converting 22 buildings for university use illegally. In another version of the shot we spotted on Facebook, she’s practically shoulder to shoulder with Peskin—a longtime AAU critic who called for a crackdown on the university’s real estate practices soon after taking office year. “It was definitely strange bedfellows,” says public defender Jeff Adachi, also present. “People would have their own motivations for being there. Some might be fear; some might be respect for [Pak's] political power.”

Asked how he ended up grinning next to AAU president Stephens, Peskin says, “You’re gonna think I’m making this up, but I didn’t even know what Elisa Stephens looked like!” That is, not until Herrera pointed her out. Then suddenly everyone was bunching together for photos, and, says Peskin, “What am I going to do, tell somebody they can’t have their picture taken with me?”

Even if Peskin and Herrera didn’t make much of standing so close to a political enemy, at least one person noticed: Pak herself. We’re told that she wondered what was up, since—to paraphrase—she thought Peskin was supposed to be trying to settle this thing quietly, and then Herrera went and sued AAU. (A call to Pak hasn't been returned yet.) Later, Stephens escorted Brown into her vintage Rolls Royce, where Pak was waiting.

We’d wager, for every person in that photo, that it might be weirder to not be there, given that Pak apparently takes roll. According to Peskin, she made a quip about the—count 'em—58 people who came to see her in China. Paraphrasing Pak, Peskin says, “‘I know that a few of those 58 people came to see whether I was really dying or dead yet, and they know who they are. I will be spending the next five years getting even with them.’”


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