Guardian editorial: The real Mirkarimi question

Do you believe Eliana, or not?

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EDITORIAL After more than five months of legal and political wrangling, after criminal prosecution and a guilty plea, misconduct charges that are costing both sides hundreds of thousands of dollars, and lengthy hearings at the Ethics Commission, the case against Ross Mirkarimi comes down to a simple question: Do you believe Eliana?

Because if you believe Eliana Lopez, and, tangentially, Linette Peralta Haynes, and take the testimony the two women have given under oath as credible, then the entire prosecution turns into something between a misguided disaster and a mean-spirited political vendetta.

That's what the Ethics Commission and the Board of Supervisors need to consider as they decide Mirkarimi's fate.

The way Lopez tells the story, Mirkarimi was never a wife-beater (as Mayor Ed Lee insisted). He didn't have a history of physical violence or abuse. He grabbed her arm during an argument, and left a bruise. Inexcusable, for certain, but not necessarily a sign of serious assault — Lopez testified that she bruises so easily that just playing around with her three-year-old son can leave marks on her.

Lopez says that she made the infamous video purely as a tool to keep around in case the couple divorced and Mirkarimi attempted to use his status as a US citizen, whose son was born in the US, to gain custody of the child. She thought at the time that her neighbor, Ivory Madison, was a lawyer who would keep the video confidential. She testified that she never wanted to go to the police — and never felt afraid of or threatened by Mirkarimi.

She and Haynes also testified very clearly that Mirkarimi never even came close to trying to discourage witnesses from coming forward, to dissuade anyone from telling the truth to the authorities or in any way to try to interfere with a police investigation. That's consistent with all of the phone and text records.

The sheriff pleaded guilty to misdemeanor false imprisonment, and that alone, the mayor argues, should be grounds to kick him out of office. But let's remember: It's common to plead to a crime you didn't commit in order to avoid a trial on a more serious charge. Nobody really thinks Mirkarimi imprisoned his wife. The plea was the result of a deal that allowed him to keep his right to carry a handgun (necessary for his job) and to prevent all of this nastiness from coming out at a domestic violence trial at which a guilty verdict would have ended his career. (Although given Lopez's dramatic testimony, it seems likely to us he might well have been acquitted.)

The primary witness on the mayor's side is Ivory Madison, the couple's neighbor, whose 22-page written statement was so full of hearsay and irrelevant information that the Ethics Commission tossed nearly all of it out.

Is it possible for someone who copped to a misdemeanor to remain in an office of public trust? Former Sheriff Mike Hennessey, who was a big fan of rehabilitation, thinks so — and it seems a stretch to say that Mirkarimi's guilty plea, in and of itself, is grounds for removal.

No: The only way the commissioners and the board can reasonably call this official misconduct, and credibly determine that the sheriff is unfit for his job, is to dismiss the Lopez testimony and accept Madison's competing narrative — one based on second-hand stories never subjected to cross-examination.

Lopez has an interest in her husband keeping his job (although she's probably better off financially living in Venezuela and making movies). But it would have been hard for the two of them to conspire on her version of the story; Mirkarimi has been forbidden by court order from talking to his wife since February. And they have consistently given very similar accounts of the events.

Comments

Though this has been excruciating and expensive for the Mirkarimi family and the City, I think it's likely to lead to the way the criminal justice system responds to domestic violence complaints, maybe even to statutory law. This made it clear that the elimination of pre-trial diversion for first time offenders who have not caused serious injury, and the disregard for both the victim's wishes and the family's survival serve only the fundamentalist faction in the business of domestic violence advocacy.

Posted by Guest Ann Garrison on Aug. 02, 2012 @ 7:53 am

in fact the Feds give SF money for it's zero-tolerance DV policy. That might explain the SF DA's tendency to not drop DV cases even where the victim refuses to testify, as here. But then victims of Dv are often too scared to testify, especially if they see their husband as "a powerful man".

DV law works as it has to. It's aggressive but better that 99 Mirk's lose their job than one Eliana ends up dead.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 02, 2012 @ 8:21 am

And the above "response" is incompetent as is most of the troll scat spattered about on these fora.

Nobody deserves to have their life destroyed though heavy-handed government action when a moderate approach meet the needs for public safety quite well.

These Mirkarimi-haters are intellectually and morally bankrupt.

Posted by lillipublicans on Aug. 02, 2012 @ 8:58 am

creates serious doubts about whether it is in the public interest to serve.

And it was largely liberals who passed these supposedly punitive DV laws.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 02, 2012 @ 9:48 am

any absolutist, non-proportional law making has great weaknesses. In this case, DV "counselors", often masters of psychobabble and humiliation themselves, make a lot of moolah, really doing nothing. You can be tough on domestic violence and still live judicial discretion in the mix.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 03, 2012 @ 12:21 pm

Wow, fora! Second declension neuter plural, if I remember right. It's utterly transparent what Lee is up to. Ross is right to put up a fight. Recall Lee!

Posted by Guest on Aug. 02, 2012 @ 8:49 pm

Here's a report on how many cases are dropped without prosecution in San Francisco: DA GASCON DROPPED HUNDREDS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CASES, denies records exist, http://www.citireport.com/2012/02/da-gascon-dropped-hundreds-of-domestic....

There are more of these complaints than the DA's office could afford to prosecute, and, if there is no prosecution, there is no other sort of help either. No counseling for either party or for the couple. Zero tolerance means prosecute or drop. How's that helping families?

Posted by Guest Ann Garrison on Aug. 02, 2012 @ 2:55 pm

Nobody can know how much harm would have come to Eliana but for the intervention.

And there is nothing to stop Eliana returning to Ross if and when she feels no more fear. She is choosing to be far away - hardly the sign of a loving, supportive wife in a committed relationship.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 02, 2012 @ 11:48 pm

sf place has this thing called a mortgage. Were you not happy enough to see their family nearly destroyed? Did you want them to lose their home also? Eliana can make money doing roles in Spanish language movies. Did you want her not to be able to help keep their home and feed herself and their son? Are you aware that Ross was suspended without pay?
Perhaps you would only be happy if they were quitters. You have learned that they aren't.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 03, 2012 @ 2:46 pm

The Ross and Eliana haters seem unlikely to be satisfied by anything short of a public suicide by the entire family, including Theo.

Posted by Guest Ann Garrison on Aug. 04, 2012 @ 7:34 am

You put the moral and ethical plane of the anti-Progressives at much too high of a level. The public suicide of a young child would do little to satisfy their primitive, sadistic urges.

Compassion is a trait that only exists in the Progressive Community. Many scientific studies have shown that what passes for DNA in a non Progressive is basically a watered down Slurpee from 7-11 and is wholly incapable of holding any type of advanced trait.

Posted by Steroidal Progressive on Aug. 04, 2012 @ 8:18 am

and fails. Way not over the top enough, SP.

Posted by lillipublicans on Aug. 05, 2012 @ 7:48 am

He'd have been tried, sentenced, and hanged by now. At least by the SFBG, which still can't come to grips with the notion that one of its heroes is a convicted criminal.

Posted by Orwell's Uterus on Aug. 02, 2012 @ 10:32 am

or even a "moderate" has been caught beating his wife like this.

Sheer hypocrisy.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 02, 2012 @ 12:08 pm

any event, one arm grab does not an abuser make. simple.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 03, 2012 @ 2:47 pm

I believe we're all pretty much bored with this.

Arguing whether or not to reinstate a guy so he can sit at a desk for 3 more years and be the most powerless Sheriff in SF history. A guy despised by his own department who can't even carry a gun.

Let's call this what it is. Should we reinstate Ross' salary and pension?

Sure. Fine. But in turn, can you finally shut the fuck up about it?

Posted by Guest on Aug. 02, 2012 @ 11:28 am

Otherwise we are sending out the emssage that you can beat your wife with impunity. There have to be serious consequences or no woman is safe.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 02, 2012 @ 12:09 pm

Bored of hearing this "party line" article after article. "Beating one's wife with impunity" is not what happened here. But I guess the expression "you see what you want to see" holds true here.

If you are still repeating this same line after all this time, it means either you are not paying attention, or you just don't like Ross and therefore want him gone and are using this situation as a scapegoat for your feelings, or you are just mean spirited. Or all three.

Remember that Ross is undergoing some remedial classes for his anger management problems. That ought to count for something toward your fear of "women not being safe". It's not like nothing was done to address what was at hand.

But you need to look at, or at least reconsider, your stance. Do you want to be causing violence toward someone yourself? Because that is exactly what you would be doing by getting behind the mantra of "kick ross out, without pay". It's unnecessary and would be harmful to his family...let alone the San Francisco "family" that voted for him over the other candidates for Sheriff, precisely for the humane values that Mirkarimi represents.

Posted by Daniele E. on Aug. 02, 2012 @ 1:25 pm

murdering their ex AFTER completing the mandatory 52-week DV counseling. In fact, there was a case in San francisco around 2005 or so, as I recall.

There's good reasons for the stayaway orders and the taking away of various civil rights. Experience has shown that women are safer that way.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 02, 2012 @ 11:52 pm

your lying lips can spit the word out, you can turn one arm grab into a murder. You are another of these types not respecting the fact that Eliana is not some wimpy little domestic slave, she's a firecracker bombshell beauty who is smart, savvy, and doesn't take you know what from anyone. It must really annoy you no end.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 03, 2012 @ 2:54 pm

Ok. We all want women to be safe, me included. I understand the rationale behind stayaway orders. Maybe you can look at this whole Ethics Committee investigation as a chance to get to the bottom of things. But that takes some investigating. I know that Ross was convicted of a misdemeanor crime of false imprisonment (ie turning the car around against Eliana's will). I also think/have heard that it should never have gotten to that point...but for whatever reason, it did.

I am also glad that since it did, Ross is getting some help for his issues. Sincerely, I am.

But, that said, we are not talking about a potential murderer here. I'm not going to repeat all the evidence here, either. That is for you to sift through.

I think a lot of people who see this as black and white (ie Ross/crime/conviction=Can't be Sheriff) have been hoodwinked. A) it is not as simple as that, as the facts reveal. B) Those people, in my opinion, are reacting out of fear.

I had a meditation teacher once who told her class that mindfulness is really a form of love. That when you take the time to allow yourself to really feel into yourself--to really see, mindfully—into anything—that that is a form of love. And I agree. When I do this in this case, when I really look at everything that's been presented to us, I see no reason to bar Ross from his job.

Things that operate on fear very often have disastrous results. Look at our war on Iraq: fear of weapons of mass destruction that never existed. Yet, we ravaged a whole country for that.

I also have my own experience of having unnecessary surgeries—that yielded nothing—all from doctors' fears, that I knew, as a patient, were over the top and suspicious. But I didn't have the strength of my own convictions then. Fear is contagious.

Posted by Daniele E. on Aug. 04, 2012 @ 1:46 pm

why? there was no "beating" and no allegation of "beating".

Posted by Guest on Aug. 03, 2012 @ 2:50 pm

too? I'm guessing that instant gratification, instant answer thing makes it hard for you to follow along when things are slightly complex

Posted by Guest on Aug. 03, 2012 @ 2:49 pm

Which Eliana are we supposed to believe - the old one or the new one?

And when she changes her story again in a few weeks, are we supposed to believe that as well?

Posted by Guest on Aug. 02, 2012 @ 12:00 pm

what she said when she feared for her life than what she said when she was trying to reinstate her meal ticket.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 02, 2012 @ 12:12 pm

I believe the Eliana Lopez who was in tears on the video, showing a bruise, and saying this is the second time it was happening. The Bay Guardian doesn't because Mirkarimi is a political ally. It's that simple and that sad.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 03, 2012 @ 2:04 pm

get you to open up all your secrets and keep them confidential. And when that person violates your trust and cons you and betrays you, keep very still and say nothing, no complaint.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 03, 2012 @ 2:56 pm

"If the commissioners and the supervisors agree with us — and we found Lopez the most believable witness to come forward in the entire affair — then there's only one way to vote. And that's to dismiss the official misconduct charge and restore Ross Mirkarimi to office."

Amen to that. And I like what Ann Garrison said about the domestic violence fundamentalists. Assistant Sheriff Michael Marcum called them out in explaining why he had contributed a large sum to bring Eliana L to SF in order to testify. He said,
"I want my $500 to help Eliana come to come to SF and be heard. I want the mayor and the Ethics Commission to face the music. The City of SF under Mayor Lee is sparing NO expense to defeat the Sheriff but refuses to pay for Eliana's airfare from Venezuela. They won't, because they don't want her powerful in-person testimony. Those who should be Eliana's natural allies -- decent people with whom I have worked for years -- seem to have lost their bearings, unforgiving and caught up in a destroy Ross, win at all costs (scenario). They have abandoned principle and forgotten Eliana and Theo..."

Anyone who claims to "advocate" for women like Eliana while depriving her of her agency and her voice is, at best, little more than a hypocrite.

Posted by lp on Aug. 02, 2012 @ 3:02 pm

She fled the jurisdiction and refused to help the authorities determine the truth.

Maybe Ross would not have been convicted had Eliana denied everything. But instead she ran away.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 02, 2012 @ 11:50 pm

to do whatever it takes to get more political power? to even work behind the scenes with the likes of bosom buddy Judge Reall to deprive her of her child. Are you really that dense?

Posted by Guest on Aug. 03, 2012 @ 2:58 pm

"...her agency or her voice"?

The woman hasn't stopped giving interviews in two languages for months, and has had numerous proxies spreading her party line (lies) in editorials like this one. How has she been robbed of her voice?

Posted by Guest on Aug. 03, 2012 @ 2:06 pm

You mean Michael Marcum, the guy who murdered his father right?
The poster child for restorative justice, that guy. That guy is supporting a domestic Violence abuser for sheriff, well because, of course to him domestic violence is probably just a measly infraction crying out loud. A mere pat on the back of Mirkarimi's hand would have plenty accountability.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 27, 2012 @ 12:19 pm

although he voted to stop his fellow citizens from keeping them.

Well written propaganda by the way.

Posted by matlock on Aug. 02, 2012 @ 9:47 pm

votes against repealing Bush's millionaire's tax break, then no matter the outcome they are justified in cheating the government out of its due?

Or do you think that after Ross Mirkarimi supported a law that controled guns in San Francisco, that he should have been compelled to expunge his work record as a police academy graduate and nine years as an armed investigator in district attorney's office?

matlock: always amusing.

Posted by lillipublicans on Aug. 02, 2012 @ 10:37 pm

peasants it was good enough for him.

The first paragraph made no sense.

Posted by matlock on Aug. 02, 2012 @ 10:54 pm

Regarding his legislation for mandating that guns be kept in gun safes when not in use?

His guns...

were...

in...

gun safes.

Posted by lillipublicans on Aug. 03, 2012 @ 3:00 pm

Read the testimony - he said he didn't know exactly where they were in his apapartment. That, according to the San Diego sheriff, was a warning sign.

Posted by Troll II on Aug. 03, 2012 @ 6:54 pm

Lying. Ross Mirkarimi didn't know exactly were the guns were in his double-locked storage room, but in any case they were locked inside cabinets in that double-locked storage room.

The sheriff of San Diego has *nothing* to say about it.

Posted by lillipublicans on Aug. 03, 2012 @ 8:14 pm
Posted by matlock on Aug. 04, 2012 @ 10:09 am

(I must be pathetic; right.)

Matty, let me tell you, if I make reference to a law and you think I'm making reference to another law, it means you are unqualified to judge whether the point I've made is valid.

It is bizarre that the Mirkarimi haters would make generically make a reference to a gun law in relation to Ross Mirkarimi, and *not* be referring to his trigger lock legislation, but instead be thinking of a proposition he tepidly supported -- describing it as "symbolic" -- and which was passed before he was elected to office.

Bizarre? No: I mean stupid.

Posted by lillipublicans on Aug. 04, 2012 @ 11:22 am

The law that Mirkarimi was for made no mention of gun safes. That he had his guns in some sort of safe makes no difference. He wanted to ban citizens of the city of owning guns, while he owned three in safe.

What do you get out of being such a toadie?

Posted by matlock on Aug. 04, 2012 @ 1:15 pm

"Sponsored by San Francisco Supervisor Chris Daly, Prop H was passed by San Francisco voters in November 2005 and approved by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors on March 21, 2006. Prop H completely banned civilian handgun possession by San Francisco residents, as well as the sale, transfer, or distribution of any firearm or ammunition within San Francisco."

You are seriously *ALWAYS* wrong. It's weird.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 03, 2012 @ 5:07 pm

Mirkarimi meant? By "vocal supporter" you mean like the vast majority of San Franciscans?

Okay. So let's review. The law was struck down by the courts before it went into effect. So you are calling Ross Mirkarimi guilty of something? Not following a law that doesn't exist?

You can get Ross Mirkarimi on *so* many things that way. Awesome!

Posted by lillipublicans on Aug. 03, 2012 @ 8:18 pm

by getting rid of his three guns - maybe even one or two. "Walk the talk" as it were. After all - he supported such a consciously draconian anti-constitutional measure but seems that he was unwilling to follow it himself. Of course, knowing about Ross' panty collection and his desire for a passel of "baby mommas" his hypocrisy on the gun issue doesn't surprise me at all.

Posted by Troll II on Aug. 03, 2012 @ 8:42 pm

Go pro Troll II! Go pro!!!

Hmmm.... wait.... can you get any endorsement contracts for lying about Ross Mirkarimi?

Posted by lillipublicans on Aug. 03, 2012 @ 10:05 pm

I'm not sure if you like the abuse or what, but this has gotten painful to watch.

You're essentially saying it was ok for Ross to promote and support a measure banning handguns in San Francisco - while owning three high powered handguns - because he knew it would probably be thrown out by the courts any.

Do you actually read the embarrassing things you write? Because either you're batshit crazy or profoundly stupid. Either way, you should probably take a break from the board. You're not doing yourself, or Ross, any favors.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 04, 2012 @ 9:48 am

Actually, my clever fool, *you* are essentially saying that Mirkarimi's ownership of a gun should have required him to take a vocal position against a law (which was popular with the voters in District 5 where he was running supervisor), despite the fact that the law wouldn't have affected armed investigators for the DA's office; his reason for being a gun owner in the first place.

And the fact that he said "the law is largely symbolic" -- because he *knew* that the law was going to be stopped in the courts and that it was only a means for San Franciscans to communicate their position regarding an issue that needs to be addressed on the state level -- isn't enough for you, integrity-wise.

Ross Mirkarimi has more integrity than just about anyone. He's a smart and dedicated public servant; just the kind bad people hate.

Posted by lillipublicans on Aug. 04, 2012 @ 10:56 am

He has not been a DA employee for quite some time. If he thinks citizens shouldn't own guns he should have sold them when he quit.

He was for a law that ended up costing the city at least a million to defend in court. The city ended up paying out to the NRA something like half a million.

Oddly the various lawyers who wrote the law in certain ways, thus claiming that it would pass constitutional muster. According to you he knew it would be stopped by the courts, thus being for a law that he knew was unconstitutional?

But that's all OK with you because he has "integrity."

You are so pathetic.

Posted by matlock on Aug. 04, 2012 @ 1:09 pm

You did much better than I did, Matlock. I'm still trying to figure out the part about Markarimi needing three guns because he was a DA investigator.

Did he strap all three on and investigate cases Rambo style? Or did he need a different gun for different parts of the city?

But in any event I think that you guys should leave poor @lilli alone. I suspect that he/she doesn't have much else going on besides getting beat up on these boards.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 04, 2012 @ 1:45 pm

district, so "action hero" fits quite a bit better than as an absurdity the way you intend it.

Maybe you can do more than feebly intimate that Mirkarimi is a hypocrite for being in favor of gun control, but I doubt it. I know that many SF Cops supported the gun ban -- while also owning several guns themselves.

Hmmm... do you suppose if you were -- say -- an electrician, you might own more than one test meter?

Posted by lillipublicans on Aug. 04, 2012 @ 4:04 pm

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