I wrote previously about a tong related killing in San Franciso. The story isn't over. Below is an excerpt. The full story can be read here.
Change at Chinatown market under city scrutiny
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
A notorious former gangster has taken over a Chinatown street market that is financed by San Francisco taxpayers, a development that has set off alarm bells at City Hall.
Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow - who was once sentenced to 25 years in prison on gun charges but says he's gone legit - was named manager of the Chinatown Night Market on Friday by the Chinatown Neighborhood Association, a group with close City Hall ties.
The potential embarrassment of Chow's involvement, we're told, prompted a contentious closed-door debate about the city's $35,000 grant to the program - with Board of Supervisors President David Chiu cautioning against the deal, Mayor Gavin Newsom's staff largely noncommittal, and Planning Commissioner Bill Lee arguing to move ahead.
"The mayor wants the whole deal closely scrutinized," mayoral spokesman Nathan Ballard said Tuesday after news of the controversy spread.
It is unclear, however, whether the city can do anything about Chow or the $35,000 - which the city awarded in a contract it signed with the market's sponsors in December.
The summertime market, where vendors pay a fee to sell their wares in street booths, has been operated since its founding a decade ago by the Chinatown Neighborhood Association, led by two longtime city pols, former Police Commissioner Pius Lee and ex-Redevelopment Commissioner Benny Yee.
Critics have complained that much of the taxpayers' yearly $35,000 contribution to the event has not been accounted for - a charge that was largely confirmed by a city controller's audit two years ago that recommended pulling the plug on the public funding.
Last week, Lee and Yee called a Chinatown news conference to say they were stepping away from the neighborhood association to pave the way for the group's reorganization. They said six of the association's 19 board members would be members of the Chee Kung Tong, or Chinese Freemasons - with Chow, head of the group, serving as the market's new general manager.