Word on Wednesday that lady-always-in-the-news Rose Pak exited the Mayor’s Office while on crutches turned heads — and not just because, as some folks cracked, that the Bulldog of Chinatown was probably attacked by a political rival.
Turns out that the impromptu meeting between Pak, the infamous “consultant” for the Chinese Chamber of Commerce, and her close friend Mayor Ed Lee was not on the mayor’s schedule, drawing predictable ire from the mayor’s opponents in the November election. Information isn’t forthcoming, and that’s a problem in this here open government town.
The problem is that information isn’t forthcoming even when meetings are on the mayor’s schedule, from his present interim stint in Room 200 to his days as City Administrator.
Take a series of tete-a-tetes scheduled with “Rose,” and another with “Rose” and “Travis,” all dating to the mayor’s administrator days. Is the “Rose” Rose Pak — and is the Travis, as one campaign guessed, Travis Kiyota, a PG&E official?
It could be, according to mayoral press secretary Christine Falvey, reached this week via e-mail.
“I don’t know who Travis is without checking in (but it could have been Travis Kiyoto [sic]),” Falvey wrote.
“As City Administrator, the mayor interacted with PG&E on many levels, including in his role of overseeing the Public Works Department, which coordinates utility under grounding, road paving and many other utility issues and services with PG&E, given their extensive work in the public right of way.”
But is it PG&E’s Travis Kiyota — and is it Rose Pak? Falvey did not respond to further requests for information by publication time.
Sure, the wheels of open government turn slowly — but they turn too slowly for mayoral candidate Joanna Rees, whose campaign fired off a terse press release calling out Lee’s administration not for being unsure if he and Pak, his so-called kingmaker, met with the corporation Lee lauded as a fine corporate citizen near the anniversary of the San Bruno pipeline blast, but instead for being unsure how it’s spending some $54 million ever year.
There’s a line item in the Controller’s Budget for “other expenses,” Rees says, that adds up to that figure. Rees attempted to find out more about that spending, and a load of other city spending, with a Sunshine Ordinance request she filed on May 9.
She has yet to receive any response, she says in the release, almost five months later.
“That’s outrageous to me,” she told the Appeal on Thursday. “This is information any private citizen should be able to get.”
One of the problems, Rees said, is that there’s no teeth to the Sunshine Ordinance. “I’ve heard people around City Hall say that, ‘We don’t follow through on this [Sunshine requests] because it’s a pain in the neck to provide the information and there’s no consequence for not providing it.'”
A meeting with Pak was not on Lee’s calendar for Tuesday, Rees noted, which poses the question of who else the mayor might have been meeting with in City Hall.
“We need a new Ethics Commission,” she concluded, “and the Sunshine Ordinance needs to be fully enforced.”