The circus begins

Mirkarimi removal efforts are already getting ugly — and there's still much more to come

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A large crowd came to support Ross Mirkarimi at the May 29 Ethics Commission hearing.
GUARDIAN PHOTO BY STEVEN T. JONES

steve@sfbg.com

Mayor Ed Lee and his attorneys are presenting a voluminous yet largely speculative case against suspended Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi in their effort to remove him for official misconduct, broadening the case far beyond their most damning core accusation -– that Mirkarimi dissuaded witnesses from telling police that he bruised his wife's arm during an argument on Dec. 31. And so far, there's no evidence to support that key allegation.

In fact, Mirkarimi and his attorneys insist there was no effort to dissuade witnesses, one of many unsupported aspects to a case they say should never have been filed without stronger evidence. And they say the mayor's team is now compensating for the weakness of its case by piling on irrelevant accusations and witnesses in an effort that amounts to character assassination.

There are even signs that the city is nervous about its case. Knowledgeable sources told the Guardian that the City Attorney's Office last week offered to settle the case with Mirkarimi, offering a substantial financial settlement if he would agree to resign, an offer that Mirkarimi rejected.

It was one of a series of rapidly unfolding developments that also included a raucous Ethics Commission hearing, the disclosure of phone records by Mirkarimi's side, a new list of charges, and the city's release of the video Mirkarimi's wife, Eliana Lopez, made with neighbor Ivory Madison, documenting the bruise in case of a child custody battle over their son.

Lopez has maintained that Mirkarimi never abused her and that she's been hurt most by the efforts to prosecute him and remove him from office.

"I hope they realize after reflection that what they have done is irreparable and perpetually damaging to me and my family," Lopez said in a statement condemning the city's release of a video that she fears will remain online for her children and grandchildren to see.

Yet all indications are this spectacle is only going to grow more sordid, divisive, and sensational as it moves forward — belying the statement Lee made last week as he introduced his annual budget: "As many of you know, I'm a person who does not like a whole lot of drama."

SIMPLE OR COMPLEX?

The May 29 Ethics Commission hearing to begin setting standards and procedures for the official misconduct proceedings against Mirkarimi illustrated two sharply divergent views on when elected officials should be removed from office. It also displayed the increasingly bitter acrimony and resentments on each side, emotions only likely to grow more pronounced as the hearings drag on for months against the backdrop of election season.

Both sides would like to see the decision as a simple one. Lee and his team of attorneys and investigators say Mirkarimi's bruising of his wife's arm and his unwillingness to cooperate with their investigation of what followed make him unfit for office. Mirkarimi and his lawyers admit his crime, but they say that's unrelated to his official duties and that the rest of Lee's charges against him are speculative and untrue.

Yet there's nothing simple about this official misconduct case — or with the implications of how each side is trying to counter the others' central claims. So despite the stated desires of some Ethics commissioners to narrow the scope of their inquiry and limit the number of witnesses, San Franciscans appear to be in for a long, dramatic, and divisive spectacle, with Mirkarimi's fate decided by the Board of Supervisors just a month or so before the five supervisors who have been his closest ideological allies face reelection. Nine of 11 votes are required to remove an official.

Comments

It doesn't matter what Lopez was saying. The law is specifically set up to account for the fact that battered wives say stuff like that all the time. It's about the evidence.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 08, 2012 @ 9:33 pm

Except that you put too much emphasis on the bruise, and NOT on what Eliana Lopez is saying.

Eliana Lopez says: " That she never feared her husband, and that she is NOT a battered woman."

Next time you go ballroom dancing, be very careful how you handle your partner, you could create a bruise. Thanks.

Posted by jccourt on Jun. 07, 2012 @ 11:21 am

Except that you put too much emphasis on the bruise, and NOT on what Eliana Lopez is saying.

Eliana Lopez says: " That she never feared her husband, and that she is NOT a battered woman."

Next time you go ballroom dancing, be very careful how you handle your partner, you could create a bruise. Thanks.

Posted by jccourt on Jun. 07, 2012 @ 11:31 am

Please. It is apparent that you and the rest of the SFBG are in full support of Ross retaining his job, just come out and say it.

Posted by D.native on Jun. 06, 2012 @ 7:12 pm

And there is no doubt D.native that you are a political opponent, willing to do anything to achieve your goals. Thanks.

Posted by jccourt on Jun. 07, 2012 @ 11:33 am

And you are not a supporter of Ross, willing to make any excuse that let's hims tay in office?

Posted by D.native on Jun. 07, 2012 @ 11:45 am

I agree with Steven. Clearly Eliana is just a drama queen who is using her acting ability to make up a story about Ross. Just like her whole concoction regarding a "bruise" which was nothing more than a liver spot. Women do these kinds of things.

Posted by Greg on Jun. 06, 2012 @ 11:34 am

genuinely was injured and, more importantly, scared and abused. What you see in this video is a woman in a foreign land with a "powerful" husband who was ill-treating here. As such, it's entirely plausible that she felt the need to take significant measures and turned to a neighbor who had knowledge of the law and the courage to act when she feared for the safety of Eliana.

Eliana was then in a bind because, if Ross loses his job, how does she support her child? Her one hope of gaining independence - divorce and alimony - has been pulled from under her feet.

The sad truth is that neither Ross not Eliana come out of this with much credit. Ross is seen as a control freak and Eliana is seen as a drama queen. It's almost as if they deserve each other. Maybe that's both their crime and their punishment.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 06, 2012 @ 11:47 am

Lopez has been a successful actress for years. Do your really think she has no savings in Venezuela?

Posted by Guest on Jun. 06, 2012 @ 2:15 pm

not declared to the IRS? Did Ross know about that?

Posted by Guest on Jun. 06, 2012 @ 2:32 pm

What are you talking about? The IRS doesn't ask for a "declaration of overseas assets" to get a US visa.

Posted by Troll II on Jun. 06, 2012 @ 2:57 pm

overseas income and the existence of any overseas bank account even if there is no income or interest paid.

So if Lopez failed to declare that on a joint tax return she made with Ross, then Ross is liable for that tax evasion. The fine is a minimum of 10K. I demand an immediate investigation of possible tax fraud by our sheriff.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 06, 2012 @ 3:19 pm

This is a bit of a red herring. She doesn't have to file if she made no income. And she never had to "declare"anything to get a US visa.

Eliana is not the focus here - Ross is.

Posted by Troll II on Jun. 06, 2012 @ 3:46 pm

accounts or face a 10K fine if they do not.

While we dont know if Ross and Eliana filed jointly it seems very likely since there are clear tax advantages to doing so if a wife doesn't earn. And that makes Ross jointly and severally responsibel for any declarations that Eliana failed to make.

So if your claim is correct that Lopez retained accounts overseas then there is a prima facie case here of tax evasion, regardless of interest paid or not.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 06, 2012 @ 4:20 pm

You have no idea whether Ross and Eliana filed jointly, yet you're foaming at the mouth to get them for tax evasion. And your professed knowledge of tax and immigration laws is suspect, IMHO.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 06, 2012 @ 6:18 pm

file jointly as it saves a bunch of tax. If the other poster is correct that Eliana hid assets overseas and didn't declare it, then ross is on the hook because he would have signed the tax return.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 07, 2012 @ 6:05 am

Are you suggesting she made no money in Venezuela during her career? Do you think she was a blank slate financially when she and Mirkarimi married?

Posted by Guest on Jun. 08, 2012 @ 10:17 am

The more interesting question is whether those assets were declared in her tax return, particularly if she filed a joint return with Ross.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 08, 2012 @ 6:25 pm

@Guest you say: "I think she genuinely was injured and, more importantly, scared and abused."

Eliana Lopez is not an abuse woman. But she certainly was distressed at the though of loosing her son in a custody battle.

You say: "and turned to a neighbor who had knowledge of the law and the courage to act when she feared for the safety of Eliana."

The neighbor certainly knew how the system worked, and certainly knew how to manipulate the system to her advantage.

What the neighbor did is not courageous, after promising Eliana's confidentiality, she convinced her to make that video. She then betrayed her friend's trust, and proceeded to destroy her family.

You say: " if Ross loses his job, how does she support her child? Her one hope of gaining independence - divorce and alimony - has been pulled from under her feet."

He hasn't lost his job yet. And to speculate that she denies the charge against her husband for alimony reasons, is very telling about your character. Thanks.

Posted by jccourt on Jun. 08, 2012 @ 5:53 pm

going to the cops, and everything so far indicates she did that out of genuine fear that Eliana was in mortal danger.

But yes, I think Eliana was naive and thought her alimony chances would be enhanced by seizing this power when in fact the opposite is true. She miscalculated.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 08, 2012 @ 6:28 pm

you think she was simply acting in that video. that is simply outrageous. or maybe she's acting when she says she's been more victimized by various prosecutions?

the initial victim is obviously Eliana, and I truly sympathize with her and other victims of DV. But then to make what is in effect a blackmail tape? wtf?

and make no mistake, this video is plenty damning. A crying woman, showing her bruise, and saying this isn't the first time?

Posted by DanO on Jun. 06, 2012 @ 12:40 pm

Why not? She is a soap actress and that is what she is an expert in. I am not saying she is acting but there is a real possibility of it.

This video is totally worthless. Without actual footage of Ross doing something it is just a claim. Do you believe all the movies you see? Are there really aliens attacking earth? I saw it in a movie!

Posted by Avkanediv on Jun. 06, 2012 @ 6:56 pm

reason to seek to have it suppressed. In fact it tells us a number of thigns:

1) Eliana testifies that Ross assaulted here
2) Ross had done this at least one time before
3) Ross had clearly threatened that he could get custody ("I'm a powerful man")
4) Eliana was scared and seeking help
5) Eliana wanted this on record

Posted by Guest on Jun. 07, 2012 @ 12:27 pm

Wow. Until now, I thought most pro-Mirkarimi folks really did have Lopez's best interests at heart, too. But now they show that, when push comes to shove, they'll even throw her under the bus to protect the Great "Progressive" Hope. Disgusting.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 08, 2012 @ 10:20 am

@Guest you say: " I thought most pro-Mirkarimi folks really did have Lopez's best interests at heart"

What San Francisco has done to that Woman is inexcusable, releasing that video to the media against her wishes is much worse than any arm grabbing.

This city pretending to be protecting Eliana has now become the abuser.

You say: "they'll even throw her under the bus to protect the Great "Progressive" Hope."

The only people who have thrown Eliana Lopez under the bus is the city of San Francisco. (the Mayor, the courts, the Chronicle, and the Ethics commission)

You seem to be obsess with this progressive business, get over it, this is not a valid argument. Thanks.

Posted by jccourt on Jun. 08, 2012 @ 6:10 pm

According to you, Ross abusing and bruising his wife is a non-issue while the city seeking to remove a convicted violent perp from public office is the real abuse.

Are you freaking serious'?

Posted by Guest on Jun. 08, 2012 @ 6:30 pm

Oh, of course it is, jccourt. This paper, and the fretful "progressive" claque in this city always does this. I put "progressive" in quotes because for those of us who are actually progressive and care more about progress and justice and less about behind-the-arras alliances don't recognize any writing in the Bay Guardian as actually progessive. It's coverage of this matter is particularly egregious, but it's really been ever thus.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 08, 2012 @ 9:38 pm

Ross and his wife had alot of plans for that $200,000 annual salary. HIs future ex-wife especially, knew that paycheck would have been more than enough to have her living like a Queen in Venezuela. But now that Ross has potentially lost the golden goose and the golden eggs it lays (SF taxpayers) he and his wife will have to find other means to subsidize their dreams. I personally am a Liberal, but I find Ross and his wife acting a bit too Nixonian. My Liberalism has always leaned toward getting all the facts. No matter where they lead. But like Nixon, our fellow progressive Mirkarimi, is clutching tightly to information that will reveal what did or didn't happen. Like tricky Dick, Ross is fighting tooth and nail to keep us from learning the truth. The whole truth. Not just the part he wants us to see. All progressives/Liberals should call for Ross and his wife to "open the books". More information, not less, has always been a Liberal ideal...a Democratic ideal, that should apply to Conservative and Liberal alike.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 08, 2012 @ 2:49 pm

@Guest you say: " My Liberalism has always leaned toward getting all the facts."

And what do you do with those facts, if they don't suit your agenda? Thanks.

Posted by jccourt on Jun. 08, 2012 @ 6:40 pm

I don't know about that Guest, but this one, when faced with facts, changes his agenda. I donated to Mirkarimi's campaign, hung the window sign, touted him to all my friends, and enthusiastically voted for him and just him. And now, after this whole mess, I can't wait to see him gone.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 08, 2012 @ 9:40 pm

trying so hard not to reveal the video, his phone records and his text records ? It seems that Ross did his dirty work via a campaign manager, who contacted Madison and tried to persuade her not to report the violent incident to the police.

When a LE boss is seeking to suppress an investigation of anyone, it's a scandal. When it's suppressing evidence of his own criminal, violent behavior, it's an outrage.

Steven, at least try and give balanced coverage. Saying there is "no evidence" is not credible at all, and you know it.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 06, 2012 @ 8:47 am

DID THE MAYOR HAVE ANY EVIDENCE BEFORE HE PROCEEDED WITH THIS CASE?

A few weeks ago the Mayor's team asked for 4 months of phone records, which was described by Judge Kahn as: "The broadest of broad fishing expedition"

They did not find anything, so now they are asking for text messages, what next?

They already have attacked the dignity of the wife by releasing that video. What other machinations are these people up to? Thanks.

Posted by jccourt on Jun. 06, 2012 @ 9:24 am

plead guilty to the crime?

The issue now is whether someone guilty of false imprisonment should be running our prisons. You can understand why 76% of voters think that's ridiculous.

And yes, everyone knows that text messages aren't recorded the way phone messages are, so it makes sense if you are trying to solicit a third party to intimidate a witness, that you'd do that by text not voice.

The fact that Ross is fighting their release show that they are damning, and in fact Madison has told us that such pressure was applied to her to keep quiet.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 06, 2012 @ 9:37 am

A plea for false imprisonment implies that there was no intent to harm, and does not amount to moral turpitude.

DID THE CITY ATTORNEY LIE?

Today we learn that the Mayor is still fishing for more information to make their case.

Ethic's commission chairman Hur has already asked the city attorney if their case was actually based on evidence already in the city's possession, or if it was allegations made in good faith but not necessarily with any evidentiary basis?

The city attorney replied that it was based on evidence already in the city's possession.

Thus the fishing expedition continues ...

Did the city attorney LIE to the Ethics commission? Thanks.

Posted by jccourt on Jun. 06, 2012 @ 11:20 am

don't know what it means, I suggest that you ask Ross because he not only knows it but admits it.

But FYI, anything that constrains the movement of another person is imprisonment. It can even be kidnapping or abduction. When you hold power over someone and you don't let them leave or go somewhere when they say they want to, that's a crime.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 06, 2012 @ 11:34 am

The DA crafted this plea agreement (so that everyone would save face) and it was accepted.

The DA did not have a case, Eliana Lopez is not a DV victim. It is you people that would wish this to be true.

The current system does not work. Automatically treating Women as liars in those courts is a scam.

In which other courts are Women, or anyone treated as liars from the get go? Thanks.

Posted by jccourt on Jun. 06, 2012 @ 12:04 pm

has made it clear he is not an innocent and that he has some issues to address, ideally while he is not sheriff, in my opinion.

Posted by D.native on Jun. 06, 2012 @ 12:28 pm

If he didn't lie, he's guilty. Which is it.

By now, just about everyone concedes Ross committed a crime, including Ross and his lawyers. Yet still you keep up this charade. you'd really have more credibility if you copped to reality.

As to whether Eliana was a DV victim, we have our answer on the video, in her own words. Twice, at the very least.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 06, 2012 @ 12:45 pm

@Guess. Watch this interview of Eliana Lopez from Venezuela. This should answer many of your questions. Thanks.

http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=news/iteam&id=8673109

Posted by jccourt on Jun. 06, 2012 @ 1:30 pm

her previous statements? In the video she claims that Ross attacked her (at least) twice. In this interview, she says only once.

Was she lying then or is she lying now?

Posted by Guest on Jun. 06, 2012 @ 1:42 pm

That's right, decisions were made, he plead guilty to misdemeanor false imprisonment, which means that there was no intention to harm, and did not involve moral turpitude.

This plea bargain led the defendant and his attorney to believe that he could keep his job.

Did the DA lie when he filed those initial very serious charges, to reduce them to practically nothing, so as to wrestle a settlement from the Sheriff?

Now the Mayor and the city attorney are retrying this case, they have already acted like senseless bullies by releasing that video to the Chronicle? Thanks.

Posted by jccourt on Jun. 08, 2012 @ 10:53 am

Ross to be removed from office. He's in charge of the prisons!

Posted by Guest on Jun. 08, 2012 @ 11:15 am

He wants to prevent the video from airing because:
1) People with sense will see how his wife was putting on an act and it will embarrass her.
2) Gullible people will actually believe just as they believe anything their TV says.
3) His opponents will cynically try to use it against him.

Posted by Avkanediv on Jun. 06, 2012 @ 6:58 pm

Again, throwing Lopez under the bus when push comes to shove. Just amazing.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 08, 2012 @ 10:21 am

That's it, they have absolutely no regards for the wife, what they have done to her is much worse than any arm grabbing. Thanks.

Posted by jccourt on Jun. 08, 2012 @ 10:56 am

Dear Bay Guardian. Your comments section needs urgent improvement.

The current system is slow. replies should be easily made, (no need to open another window to do so). Etc. Thanks.

Posted by jccourt on Jun. 06, 2012 @ 10:52 am

old-fashioned ways. Much like the paper itself and it's writers, in fact.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 06, 2012 @ 11:02 am

I would support an improvement to the system that prevents people who take themselves way too seriously from posting their subject IN ALL CAPS.

Otherwise, yes, its an old system that doesnt work very well which is quite fitting for the paper in general.

Posted by Greg on Jun. 06, 2012 @ 12:33 pm

Less than 30 days until we can begin gathering signatures to throw this self-righteous prick out of office and settle this vulgar matter once and for all.

Again - what happens at the Ethic Commission or the Board of Supervisors is but a sideshow to the recall vote. Ross' Jonestown-like supporters can crowd all the hearings they want, screech at those they dislike and try to drown out anything with which they disagree but they can't win a citywide recall vote and they know that.

Posted by Troll II on Jun. 06, 2012 @ 1:51 pm
Posted by lillipublicans on Jun. 06, 2012 @ 2:01 pm

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