Sorting through scandal - Page 3

Mirkarimi's case moves from the courts to City Hall -- raising tough political and logistical questions

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Ross Mirkarimi pledges to fight for his job minutes before being suspended by Mayor Ed Lee.
PHOTO BY LUKE THOMAS

But the City Charter has changed since then, and now allows removal for the vague charge of "conduct that falls below the standard of decency and good faith and right action impliedly required by all public officers." That phrase gives extraordinary power to the mayor — and, given some of the conduct we've seen at City Hall over the years, could have been used to remove a long list of city officials.

The Charter states that Mirkarimi, as the accused, will get a hearing before the Ethics Commission, and that he can be represented by counsel. It's silent on the question of what form that hearing will take, what the rules of evidence will be, what witnesses will be allowed, and what rights the defendant will have.

Four of the five Ethics Commission members are practicing attorneys, and before they can call a hearing, they'll have to hold a meeting to discuss the rules.

In the case of former Sup. Ed Jew, who was accused of falsifying his address, Ethics was prepared to take only written testimony (Jew resigned before any hearing, partially to deal with more serious federal charges of shaking down constituents for bribes). But that's not a hard and fast rule — this time, the panel could decide to allow both sides to present witnesses.

If the commission decides to allow evidence, someone will have to rule on what evidence can be presented and what can't. Will that be the commission chair, Benjamin Hur, or the commission as a whole?

The answer is: Nobody knows for sure. Hur told us he couldn't comment on anything related to the case; the City Attorney's Office won't comment, either, since the office is representing both the mayor (on the prosecution side) and the supervisors and the Ethics Commission, and the board and the commission haven't made any decisions on rules yet.

Then it gets even trickier. The Board of Supervisors has to vote on whether to remove the sheriff, and it takes nine votes to do that. So if three supervisors vote no, Mirkarimi is automatically back in office.

There are no rules in the Charter for how the board will proceed; in theory, the supervisors could simply accept the recommendation of the Ethics Commission and vote without any further hearings. They could rely on the record of the Ethics proceedings — or they could hold the equivalent of a second trial, with their own witnesses and procedures.

To add another layer of confusion, Mirkarimi, as sheriff, is classified under state law as a peace officer — and the Peace Officers' Bill of Rights sets entirely different standards for administrative and disciplinary hearings. Among other things, Mirkarimi could assert the right to have the Ethics Commission hearing closed to the public and the records sealed.

State law also mandates that a peace officer facing suspension without pay has the right to a hearing and adjudication within 90 days. That's not in the City Charter; under the Charter, the city can wait as long as it wants to decide the issue.

Nobody knows for sure whether the Peace Officers Bill of Rights trumps the City Charter.

It's clear that Mirkarimi, like anyone accused of a crime or facing an administrative hearing, has the right to due process — but not necessarily the same rights as he would have in a court proceeding. It's also clear that the supervisors will be sitting in a quasi-judicial role — and thus can't take into account anything that isn't part of the official record of the case.

They probably can't, for example, hold a public hearing on the issue — and judges in a case are theoretically supposed to ignore the hundreds of calls and emails that are now flooding in to the board offices on all sides.

The political implications are equally complex. Lee would have been in a dangerous situation if he declined to file charges — if Mirkarimi ever did anything else this disturbing, some would say it was Lee's fault for leaving him in office.

Comments

Jason Grant Garza here ... WOW, today my comments rests with the ETHICS COMMISSION (ha,ha,ha) that has to followup on this. I just want to be sure because I've had many items sent to the ETHICS COMMISSION regarding "OFFICIAL MISCONDUCT" from the SUNSHINE TASK FORCE (MINISTRY of SUNSHINE) that were shot down. They had rules and procedures in place for this ( the sandbagging of the item) so why don't they have something in place for this? I mean if the language was created was not the enforcement (or was that just an illusion) as it has consistently shot down the SUNSHINE task Force's Official Misconduct referrals.

Type my name into a google search engine and read here in the SF BAY GUARDIAN an article about me, what I went thru in sunshine, the NO RESULTS of telling the "TRUTH" to officials (who tried to risk manage the HARM and DAMAGES away), the court case (C02-3485PJH) where the city lied to have my case dismissed and then years later signed a confession *settlement agreement) with the OFFICE of INSPECTOR GENERAL admitting fault and guilt ...paying a small fine to the GOVERNMENT and leaving its INNOCENT VINDICATED VICTIM for DEAD to "TWIST in the WIND."

ETHICS at the ETHICS COMMISSION ... what a FARCE ... they need procedures ... weren't they in place for the SUNSHINE referrals ... didn't the SF BAY GUARDIAN and SF Civil Grand Jury have something to say about this and WHY are they NOT pointing this out? Where was or are mine and the compliantants' RIGHTS at SUNSHINE for "EQUAL PROTECTION" if the process and procedures are being created for this ETHICS hearing on Ross ... HOW LONG has SUNSHINE been on the books and what does mean regarding its ENFORCEMENT ... could it cleverly be a "RISK MANAGEMENT" shill for the city to tire, exhaust, remove hope from the VICTIM to proceed? How much MONEY $$$ must the rigged and inhumane process be saving the city when poor ordinary folks have no recourse and only false unaccountable hope at the MINISTRY of SUNSHINE and its "RIGGED" counterparts at ETHICS? I wish I had had a job that paid 199K to get a lawyer ... instead I had the lousy only option of going to SUNSHINE and having the system FAIL.

By the way ... isn't Scott Wiener Office looking into SUNSHINE's costs ... too bad they cut me off ... isn't David Chui's office working on CIVIL GUIDEON ... oh, that's right ... not for these type of cases which EXPOSE the TRUTH of the corrupt and unaccountable systems and methodology set in place for the poor and naturally the "other system" for those who can afford JUSTICE and JUST THIS for the rest of us who can not.

Let us look at the SF BAY GUARDIAN article regarding SUNSHINE referrals to ETHICS ... why aren't they asking why NOW regarding ETHICS problems following its procedures and practices set in place for "OFFICIAL MISCONDUCT: especially over the last ten (10) years of referrals by the SUNSHINE TASK FORCE ... yes, Virginia ... hand in hand the deception goes on ... please SF BAY GUARDIAN ask.

Posted by Jason Grant Garza on Mar. 28, 2012 @ 9:52 am

Thanks for a well written article.

If I may add a few lines, here, here, let me try:

Mayor Ed Lee, has anyone asked why you had to be a Norooz party pooper? Did you abandon Sensitivity Training lessons and left them behind? Who taught you to ignore the little guys? In 2011, you came batting for Mirkarimi in the City Hall Norooz Celebration. Did you forget it already then scheduled it in advance – with media announcement, and actually “Fired him on Norooz”? Sorry chief. Not only did it not dignify you a bit, it reduced both your value and San Francisco’s in the eyes of the many. It had no taste and no class. Did you have to act that crass on Norooz? Can’t you enjoy the oldest Spring Equinox tradition and celebrate with another ethnic group?

Oh, yes, I like to ask the Feinsteins if "conflict of interest" in San Francisco and their name has been put to rest?!! (Hint, hint, Google the very phrase for 100s, maybe 1000s of hits :) :) It just doesn’t go away.

Then Of course I have to ask Casa De La Madres again if they ever heard the Fire Chief's name -- "Hayes-White". Plus if Casa De ever had a clue about the ORIGIN of "private matter" in SF politics? Who told them to ignore the Mayor but rise to the occasion - not Ross M?!!! (View it in YouTube - search for SF Fire Chief Hayes-White DV). One has to wonder whether to call it total ignorance or ultimate, deliberate willfulness?

Then ask Judge [Katherine] Feinstein if she were ever concerned with "Conflict of Interest" with Judge McBride serving in her team? [Smirk, smirk - Go ahead Feinstein - give him and yourself kudos and a pat on the back]

Anyone get a feeling that media - heaven forbid - might be biased? Oh no, of course I am not thinking of Chronicle, Examiner, KCBS, KGO and the rest What happened to the Journalistic Ethics of serving the public with TRUTH? On that "little picture" I was a little curios. If you don't believe me review the same picture in a few different websites. The same bruise in the same picture ranges from one covering the entire bicep to one about a little larger than a quarter. Although the size doesn't count or matter, I really wonder what the original “leaked photo” contained? As big a deal as it was no one saw any trace of it on the Jan 8 inaugural.

Does anyone give a hoot about Human Rights in San Francisco or that subject belongs to the State Dept in dealing with N. Korea, Syria, China, Russia and such?! I like to ask if anyone besides yours truly felt a disgusting churn in stomach upon watching the mob of SF politicians ganging up on a 2.5 year old? San Francisco, please help and educate me - which is worse in the eyes of a 2.5 year old – or worse FOR a 2.5 year old - parents arguing or an all out assault that blows one parent out of the child's life? Superior Court Judges, please take note and heed the recommendation of your own Child Protective Services. Your nose grows and grows.

Who can recount the Salem Witch hunt account of the minister who refused to enter a plea? Was he dragged on dirt until he died or did they run up his attorney and defense bills into six digits, bankrupt him financially, emotionally, socially and otherwise? Oh I forgot blowing him out of his home. How grotesque. How disgusting. I wonder when somebody's conscience might wake up to the fact that "if they can recite such and such and such a prayer in full they must not be part of Devil's army". San Francisco, take heed and don't race into stealing the infamous title from Salem and Boston.

One last thing. Was it last August 2011 that San Francisco announced “budget shortfalls” – especially one to cut court costs to the tune of 200 clerical workers? They bankrupted the Sheriff already, but anyone care about the cost to the city? Folks YOU PAID for the dog and pony show that “shouldn’t have been” if anyone with any authority talked it with the couple for about ½ hour. They seemed to be cooperating with each other and authorities. But, what am I talking about – the beast was after blood. Back to the cost to the city issue – what’s your guess? Philobosian in Los Angeles “McMartin case” ran up a $15,000,000 tab with any conviction. Not even an infraction. But McMartin’s (and company) paid with their own life and blood. I doubt if SF even came close to matching the Los Angeles dog and pony show, but anyone for an audit of any or all this? An old adage has it as “Follow the Money Trail”? Anyone with authority - please - up for taking up that task?

Posted by Guest Bob Alavi on Mar. 29, 2012 @ 11:46 am

Fair and balanced and well-researched and thorough, except for the omission of discussion of Ross Mirkarimi's well-known temper tantrums in City Hall. I think it behooves progressives to acknowledge this and demand that Mirkarimi work on this, and not just anger management in the home, if he wants his job back and if he wants progressives to support him in these efforts.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 28, 2012 @ 1:34 pm

Best unbiased SFBG article on this subject bar none!
Anti-Mirkarimi columnist in the Chron and Examiner and Pro-Mirkarimi columnist in the SFBG take note!

Posted by GuestOfNoOne on Mar. 28, 2012 @ 1:56 pm

Congrats Steven - I expected something different and was pleasantly surprised with this.

Posted by Troll II on Mar. 28, 2012 @ 2:59 pm

Thanks. Throughout my other posts and comments on this topic, I've been trying to indicate this is a more complicated issue than many would like to make it, but it's an emotionally charged issue so it's been difficult to have a dispassionate discussion of the implications of this process.

Posted by steven on Mar. 29, 2012 @ 10:37 am

"Complicated" when you use it seems to entail that the rest of us are just to thick to agree with you.

Mirkarimi's issues are not that complicated. He's an asshole.

Posted by Steven Haaland Daly on Mar. 30, 2012 @ 11:49 pm

to exclude two specific witnesses...

Will Ivory Madison descend from her ivory tower where she is guarded from speaking and actually talk? answer questions?

Will her close friend and advisor Mr. Bronstein be called to account?

Posted by GuestChristine Craft on Mar. 29, 2012 @ 10:06 am

You say: "Will her close friend and advisor (sic, we are not in the UK) Mr. Bronstein be called to account?"

What a drama queen. What are you alleging for which Mr. Bronstein needs to be held to account? I'm not aware that he did anything wrong, nor does he need to explain his actions to the likes of you.

Ivory Madison sought the advice and counsel of someone familiar with high-level controversy, who has dealt with or associated with powerful people, and could give guidance to Madison on what she should do.

Of course, you gloss right over that Bronstein did the right thing and gave Madison proper counsel.

What a shabby attempt to put Madison and Bronstein on trial. Your machinations will fail, because there's only 1% of people like you, supporting Mirkarimi and his right to abuse his wife and son.

Posted by MichaelSF on Mar. 30, 2012 @ 11:50 pm

I get it now! If you hold your wife hostage after a weekend of fighting it is alright to go to work the next day as the City's Jailor. Makes perfect SF sense to me.

Posted by Willie E. Brown IV on Mar. 29, 2012 @ 10:27 am

I think you raise some good points, and it reads pretty fair and balanced, IMHO.
the logistics of how this is going to play out procedurally is mind-numbing. seeing as how the statute said that the hearing before the Ethics Commission was to occur within 5 days, you'd have thought that the procedures would have been well-established

Posted by DanO on Mar. 29, 2012 @ 11:52 am

Nice article, fair and balanced. I'm surprised Tim allowed it to be published!

Posted by Guest on Mar. 29, 2012 @ 12:20 pm

Good article. Thorough

Posted by Troll the IV on Mar. 29, 2012 @ 10:01 pm

Good article. Thorough

Posted by Troll the IV on Mar. 29, 2012 @ 10:01 pm

Good article. Very thorough.

""Very few progressives have stood up publicly and taken Mirkarimi's side.""

This is what has surprised me. I take it he doesn't have any friends on the Board of Sup.

Aside from Walker and Art Agnos, virtually nobody at the top of the progressive community has stood up and defended him.

Why?

Posted by Troll the IV on Mar. 29, 2012 @ 10:03 pm

That's why I don't think other than a few fellow wife beaters on these boards, there's not much support for Mirkarimi, either in here or at City Hall.

Other than the few people who comment "it was only a little bruise" or "all he did was grab her arm," 99.9% of people get it. They know Mirkarimi "did it" and that he is a physical and mentally mean man.

The stills of a sobbing woman, holding up her severely bruised arm, and knowing that Theo was screaming in the background when Mirkarimi was assaulting his wife, well... it is pretty hard to rally around someone like that.

It does not help Mirkarimi's cause when he is forcing the Mayor and Supervisors to cast a vote. Voting for Mirkarimi to be reinstated will be perceived by the public as a rubber stamp for DV.

Even if Mirkarimi had friends on the Board, I am sure privately they are telling him there's no way they can cast a vote in Mirkarimi's favor. That would be, as the saying goes, committing political suicide.

It is somewhat amusing that the otherwise vocal Supervisors have not said a word about this situation. I am sure they are dreading the day this matter comes before them for a vote and they resent Mirkarimi defecating the issue on to their table.

Posted by MichaelSF on Mar. 30, 2012 @ 11:29 pm

Unlike many City and county positions, the Sheriff is an elected official. He is a politician.

The problem for Mirkarimi is that he serves at the pleasure of the voters. When the people and/or voters have lost confidence in an elected official there's two ways to get rid of him or her: through the process he is suffering currently, or the more expensive process, a recall election.

Mirkarimi does not have a right to be sheriff, nor is he a protected civil service employee. Mirkarimi as a politician is subject to different rules, customs, and yes, even attacks.

To be sure, a twist of that old saying seems appropriate to describe Mirkarimi's circumstance: Live by the political sword, die by it.

I mean, really, who cares if Mirkarimi's political foes are dancing on Mirkarimi's political grave. There's no doubt times in the past Mirkarimi has done the same.

So I don't give a rat's pitoot about Mirkarimi's POLITICAL woes. Even if this is all political, and it may well be, as an experienced politician he knows that "paybacks are a bitch."

Sidenote: When Mirkarimi was a Supervisor did he ever have occasion to use these laws against someone? Or did he at least know that the Supervisors had this kind of power? Assuming one or both of these, none of this is a surprise to Mirkarimi, and he knows full well that in politics public opinion will dictate his fate.

That brings to mind, Mirkarimi knows full well that if Lee and the Supervisors don't oust him, that someone, somewhere will simply start the recall process.

What will be Mirkarimi's beef then? There's no way he can procedurally stop the recall from going forward. And considering that 90% of the comments on the Net are against Mirkarimi, there's no way with those "polling numbers" could think he can survive a recall vote.

Since his being recalled is a 99.9% certainty, isn't all of this a waste of time and our tax dollars. If his "employment" is "at-will," so to speak, he should do the right thing and go away.

Hmm... now that I think about it, I guess this is all about money. He does not care about being sheriff, he wants to keep his pension.

Posted by MichaelSF on Mar. 30, 2012 @ 11:14 pm

The real issue in this case, is the election losers: the DA, SFPD, Chron, the Mayor, the 1%, are using this minor dv incident to overturn the election.
Ask yourself, "Do you want the election overturned for such a minor misdemeanor?"
Do you want the 1%, using this dv ploy, to decide who will be your Sherif?
Do you want the military industrial complex selecting who will do the evictions?
Ross proposed there be no evictions, but negotiated suspestion of mortgage payments for 2 years, when someone loses their job.
Just add 2 more years onto the end of the mortgage. Listen to what Ross said.
That would stop all evictions for 2 years.

This is a very sophisticated Coup d'etat by the 1%.
Eliana never called the police.
She says Ross is innocent.
She is willing to forgive & save her family.
The legal system is now victimizing Theo, Eliana, Ross and even YOU,
by putting puppets in charge of our police force.
If you allow Ross to be removed by the 1% elite, your city will be taken over by evil money grubbing forces.

Posted by Guest Dr Kangas on Apr. 01, 2012 @ 9:41 am
Posted by Guest on Apr. 01, 2012 @ 11:19 am

Would a recall win??
I doubt it. Most of the people who voted for Ross would vote for him again.
Especially people in relationships.
A tiny bruise on an elbow rates him sleeping on the couch for a night.
Not a coup detat overturning an election.
My ex left so many bruises on my arms & legs,
I stopped counting after 10 years.
Marriage is not easy.
But it is worth the effort.
I dare someone to start a recall.
It won't even get on the ballot.

Posted by Guest Dr Kangas on Apr. 01, 2012 @ 5:41 pm

We in the 99% wish Ross the best in his campign to stop the Coup d'etat by the 1%.

Posted by Guest Dr Kangas on Apr. 01, 2012 @ 6:36 pm

These laws were put forth by the progressives who claim the 99%, now that one of your boys has been ensnared in these laws it sucks and 1% are to blame?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steve_Kangas

Any relation?

Posted by Steven Haaland Daly on Apr. 01, 2012 @ 9:50 pm

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