Everybody’s friend: Perhaps it was a mere dose of stupid pills that made Gavin Newsom decide to pose for a grip-and-grin with a strutting, flashy, habitual criminal who still boasts his Chinatown gang moniker.
Oh sure, there were a few traits of Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow that more uptight top California elected officials might tend to think of as red flags.
The ankle monitor the feds still require Chow to wear, for example, after he served *part of a 22 year prison sentence; or his autobiography, “Son of the Underworld,” which boasts of his record as a violent enforcer whose career began by stabbing someone when he was 9, plus his proficiency in running prostitutes, dealing drugs, smuggling guns and extorting small business owners; or the TV report – in Newsom’s hometown, the same week he posed and smiled with the guy – that quoted several police sources saying Chow was “still associating with known gang members” and “being followed closely.”
But clearly none of that stuff stacked up against Shrimp Boy’s own, public promises that he was “turning his life around.” At least not to Newsom, who upheld the tradition of California liberal Democrats getting cozy with sociopaths (see Jones, Jim).
It took the Sacramento Bee about 12 seconds to find the Newsom pic on Shrimp Boy’s Facebook page, and to post it on their site, on a day when Chow co-starred in the dramatic indictment of state Sen. Leland Yee and several dozen members of their posse. As a political matter, it is much to be expected that the scandal, including the Newsom-Chow photo, will have legs into November.
Alas, it doesn’t look like Shrimp Boy will be out in time to cast a ballot for his Facebook friend.
The envelope, please: Overall, Press Clips was duly impressed with the first-days coverage of the scandal by our MSM colleagues. Along with the must-have, just the facts breaking stories and required backgrounders, a couple of reports stood out for special awards:
– KGO-TV’s Alan Wang still shines, two years later, in a first-rate, hard nosed examination – the only by the trusting MSM? — of Chow’s phony claims of being a changed man (which were swallowed whole by a batch of politicians besides Newsom: Dianne Feinstein, Ed Lee, Tom Ammiano and, of course, Yee, all prepared formal proclamations singing Shrimp Boy’s praises, also posted on FB).
Wang’s 4:55 prescient piece, which aired May 7, 2012, featured a sit-down with Chow in which the reporter repeatedly confronts him with quotes from law enforcement sources calling bushwah on the guy. Shrimp Boy gets his say, but Wang maintains a very skeptical attitude throughout:
Wang: The police still believe you’re involved with a lot of criminal activity.
Chow: What do you think?
Now that’s what you call your non-denial denial.
–Paolo Lucchesi in the Chronicle Food Section (still the best thing about the paper, along with Sports and Costco Carla), who quick-stepped a delightful feature headlined “A San Francisco Walking Tour of the Leland Yee Saga.”
It begins with a predictable disclaimer that All Of This Is Really Serious Business, but quickly pivots to a rumination on the high-profile role that eating establishments play in the feds’ 137-page affidavit as perfect plotting and planning playgrounds for alleged felonies:
“…in most cases, the specific names of the restaurants were omitted. Was the business being conducted in a dingy diner, like the Greek did in the second season of The Wire? Did the meetings take place in an old school Italian red sauce joint like the famous Sollozzo/McClusky dinner in The Godfather?
Regardless, food and restaurants play a prominent role in the affidavit, from the revelation that “the placing of a black lion outside of the banquet restaurant [is] to send a message of intimidation to all other organizations that Chow’s organization was the oldest and strongest” (Page 31) to the time that two of Chow’s “people … hid their guns across the street in a restaurant bathroom” upon spotting police officers (Page 32). Also: Shrimp Boy.
– KQED’s Scott Detrow’s smart piece that annotated, page by page, the crucial FBI affidavit in support of the arrests of Yee and others. The document itself at times is tough going – the 12-page introduction of the dramatis personae is a real hump – but Detrow provides a good, useful running log of punchy explanations that highlight, explain and connect key passages.
– Nice work by NBC-Bay Area, which broke the story early Wednesday morning of Yee’s arrest, complete with video of him handcuffed in a cop car and whisked away to the hoosegow, live tweeted by Diane Dwyer.
– Great hustle by the San Jose Mercury News team, which appeared to be the first news org to get independent confirmation of Yee’s arrest (the well-sourced Howard Mintz?) and pushed the story forward all day online. Runner up: The Bee’s Capitol Alert.
– Excellent lead-all print edition story by the Chron. Despite carrying three bylines and 45 words, the lede was crisp, with all essential facts, and the crucial top four grafs unfurled in a smooth, easy to follow rhythm that didn’t overwhelm the reader but carried momentum all the way to the kicker. (A wild guess
: Trapper Byrne, world’s greatest desk editor, pulled all the threads together on deadline. was wrong; Trap still the best, though). The irony, of course, is that the paper’s High Sheriffs are working overtime to push the paper out of the, um, paper business.
Cliché of the day (Print Category):
The public corruption case against state Sen. Leland Yee reads like a bad crime novel with off-the-books firearms deals made in parking lots and confessions whispered in a booth at a karaoke bar. L.A. Times.
It reads like a crime novel, listing meetings after meetings throughout the city. S.F. Chronicle.
The federal affidavit, unsealed as Yee headed to federal court, reads like a gripping crime novel. KCRA.
Steinberg called the charges “shocking and surreal,” adding that the gun-running allegation was “like a bad movie.” L.
If this guy wasn’t a Democrat, every screenwriter in Hollywood would be banging out a film script right now . Human Events.
Understatement of the week award:
Thursday’s decision may also signal that Yee’s political career is coming to an end.
*An earlier version of this post incorrectly reported that Chow had served his complete 22-year prison sentence.