Politically connected club owner Steven Lee will be sworn onto the Entertainment Commission by Board of Supervisors President David Chiu tomorrow night during a party that Lee is throwing for the occasion at The Grand nightclub, but Lee's appointment is shrouded in some strange political twists and turns.
As we reported last week, the board overruled the Rules Committee recommendation that the appointment go to Castro club owner Tim Eicher, who was supported by Sup. Scott Wiener, a leader on nightlife issues. Instead, the board voted 6-5 to substitute Lee, even though he needed a residency waiver because he lived in San Mateo to care for his sick, elderly father.
It was already a strange move that seemed at least partially prompted by lobbying on Lee's behalf by Chinatown power brokers Rose Pak and David Ho, both of whom seem to have the run of City Hall these days. It certainly wasn't Lee's awkward Dec. 15 testimony to the Rules Committee (watch it here, and note his comment at the 32-minute mark about his goal for the commission being, “I want to come in there and boost the morale.”). As the Examiner's Melissa Griffin reported last week, Lee also gushed over politically powerful allies (including "Your majesty Rose Pak") in a Facebook album entitled "My famous friends" that he appears to have since taken down.
Yet as a third-generation San Francisco business owner (he currently runs The Grand, formerly the Glas Kat Supper Club, formerly the Trocadero Transfer), Lee does have relationships with some supervisors that won their support. “I've known of his work since I was a student at San Francisco State in the '80s, when he used to do the dances,” Sup. Eric Mar, who nominated Lee, told the Guardian. “Rose Pak and David Ho had no impact on me in terms of my supporting Steven Lee.”
So Lee got the appointment. But then, the City Attorney's Office ruled that because the Entertainment Commission is a charter commission, which doesn't allow for residency waivers, Lee couldn't be appointed. The appointment was headed back to the board for next week's agenda, with the recommendation to instead go with Eicher.
Then, despite listing San Mateo as his address on application forms, and testifying about how he needs to care for his ailing father, Lee said that he was a San Francisco resident after all. Contacted by the Guardian, Lee said that he was moving in with a friend of his in Cow Hollow, and that he would commute back-and-forth to care for his father.
“I'm moving back to the city. I have no choice,” Lee said, later adding, “It's not my first choice, but this commission seat is only for about two and a half years...I was torn. I wanted to stay with my dad.”
So why does Lee want to serve on this commission so badly? And is he really going to establish a permanent residence at his buddy's house, or are we looking at a potential Ed Jew situation, with that former supervisor's false claims of living in the city?
Whatever the case, Wiener said the whole thing seems a little fishy, but he's just going to let it slide. “I don't want to speculate whether he lives there or doesn't live there,” Wiener said. “I'm just disappointed by the whole thing.”