The case for reinstating Mirkarimi - Page 2

Three points that the Mayor would do well to heed 


Ross Mirkarimi was elected in November, 2011, with a clear majority in a contested race. The state Constitution provides an excellent remedy for replacing an elected official who has lost the confidence of the voting public; it's called the recall. With a fraction of the effort that's been spent on this case, people who feel Mirkarimi should no longer serve as sheriff could have collected signatures and forced an election.

The City Charter gives the mayor extraordinary authority — we would say too much authority — to unilaterally suspend an elected official and seek removal. That's a power that should be wielded only in the most extreme cases, with great deference to the will of the voters.

Lee did no investigation before filing official misconduct charges. He based those charges on unsubstantiated claims, most of which were proven false. There's a dangerous precedent here: If Mayor Ed Lee can suspend without pay Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi on such limited evidence, the ability of future mayors to misuse this power could be alarming. And remember: There is nothing in the Charter that allows anyone to suspend or seek removal of the mayor.

3. This case mangles "official misconduct."

There's another dangerous element to this case, and it's not just a legal technicality. The New Year's Eve incident occurred before Mirkarimi took the oath of office; on that day, he wasn't the sheriff of San Francisco. He was a supervisor.

It's hard to claim he was guilty of "official misconduct" on a day when he had no official duties. A fascinating, but unsigned analysis by somebody who clearly has a strong legal background is posted on the web ( It notes:

"If the Supervisors approve what the Ethics Commission did on August 16, they will be handing a powerful new political weapon to all mayors, present and future. Good mayors may never misuse it, but other mayors might. No longer will such a mayor be limited to examining an opponent's conduct while in office. He will have carte blanche and a strong motive to look farther back in time for personal misconduct that occurred before his opponent took office, and to use what he finds to suspend his opponent without pay and remove him from office — all while claiming (as undoubtedly he will) to be engaged in a noble pursuit of truth and justice."

Let's be serious: There have been San Francisco mayors with a long record of vindictive politics, or seeking any method possible to punish their enemies. There may well be again. Do we really want to have this case — this weak case driven more by politics than reason and evidence — set the precedent for the grave step of overriding the voters and removing an elected official?

Any of these three reasons ought to be grounds to vote against the mayor's charges. Together, they make a sound enough case that it's hard to imagine how the supervisors, sitting as a fair and impartial jury, could come to any conclusion other than returning Mirkarimi to office. We recognize that there are political implications, that Mirkarimi's foes will target anyone who votes to support him. And just as it's hard for some politicians to appear "soft on crime," it's nearly impossible to survive in San Francisco if you're considered "soft on domestic violence." But anyone who doesn't want tough choices shouldn't run for public office. It will take courage to do the right thing here — and in the end, that's what should matter.


Most domestic violence injuries don't result in death. That doesn't mean they're not domestic violence injuries.

Posted by Hortencia on Oct. 02, 2012 @ 2:49 pm
Posted by D. Native on Oct. 02, 2012 @ 3:04 pm

A little remedial grammar might help.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 02, 2012 @ 3:15 pm

probably most of the time, an arm grab is just an arm grab.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 04, 2012 @ 9:19 am

KTVU reporting that Willie Brown says the supervisors will oust Mirkarimi.. Amazing how they aren't even embarrassed to be controlled like that. Why even bother with a vote?
well, there's the 1st DCA and making the the fixed game will proceed. Does Willie Brown own the justices at the DCA?
no, and that's a good thing.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 03, 2012 @ 9:03 am

Because the outcome isn't what you want the process must be corrupt.

Posted by Hortencia on Oct. 03, 2012 @ 9:15 am

where the city and county of San Francisco pays out the big judgment in about two years from now. Keep wearing the bag over your head, Hortencia,the plastic one.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 03, 2012 @ 11:00 am
Posted by Guest on Oct. 03, 2012 @ 12:13 pm

He's got so much "smooth," I think he's been covering it for a while....

... thinking all the way back to his election night "exuberance" in 2003 when Newsom narrowly staved off the Matt Gonzalez insurgency... might have just been mild alchohol poisoning, but there was a slightly demented character to his cackle.

Posted by lillipublicans on Oct. 03, 2012 @ 9:21 am

If one of the DV mavens grabbed her girlfriend's arm...would you want the maven be prosecuted? rigorously?

Posted by Guest on Oct. 03, 2012 @ 9:23 am

Though I'm no "maven," I can speak from another perspective. When Sheriff Mirkarimi described the incident as a "private, family affair," he mirrored the pattern followed by many abusers. Whether you believe his actions were minor or unforgivable, his (perhaps unwitting) message was clear to women who might be considering speaking up about their own situations: keep silent, keep it in the family, don't cause a problem.

His wife's anguish over her family losing its main source of income is very familiar, too - all too frequently, speaking up means subjecting yourself and your children to financial ruin. Of course there are shelters, and family you can sometimes turn to, but, even in undisputed acts of domestic violence, our system acts to remove the abuser from society in a way that frequently destroys the family.

So, how could we approach this, from a victim's perspective?

As soon as the sheriff uttered those three words in public, he created a situation where victims could not trust that they would be taken seriously. The process of reporting a crime is harrowing, at best, and would be nearly impossible if you imagined ahead of time you'd be patted on the head and sent home to solve the problem yourself. Add on to this that, by the time victims report a crime, it's rarely the first offense, and you have a situation where the sheriff could not, in fact, carry out at least one aspect of his job. Victims have to trust. Sheriff Mirkarimi lost that trust.

But we have to decide, as a society, whether we want to punish whole families for the actions of one member. I can't speak to how his words affected his ability to run his department - to investigate car thefts, for example, or manage his team. I do wish he would offer some public acknowledgement that he understands - truly understands - the hell that is domestic violence. Demonstrate that he has spoken to victims and survivors, and gets what it takes to go from being one to the other. That he understands how family and friends frequently support the abuser, and not the victim, and how devastating it can be when you reinforce the belief that abuse is somehow not a real crime because you know the person who hurt you.

I wish he would demonstrate that he gets it, that the fear and grief of victims would be important enough for him to show the humility and strength to be that leader.

I do believe that he could have been creative in appointing a member of his team to oversee domestic violence crimes while he took time to talk with his community, with victims and abusers and the therapists and doctors who try to help them through. I know how ridiculous that sounds in our current political climate, but imagine the leader who could say, "I'm sorry" and then educate himself and come back a stronger and more capable law enforcement officer. Imagine if we allowed our leaders to actually lead.

I don't believe he should lose his job. I do believe there is something he could do other than fight the allegations in public and go to counseling in private. Regardless of what really happened between them, I wish that his wife had not been subjected to such harsh, angry treatment by the media and people on both sides. It would be a terrible ordeal to get through, even if it turns out that she wasn't a victim of domestic violence - but so much more devastating if it turns out that she was.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 05, 2012 @ 4:27 am

the fact that Eliana earns good money as an actress in South America.Is that part of the goobledegook one-size-has -to -fit-all psychobabble that has all women trembling and dissembling? Guess what, nothing in life is an absolute, including this.
It has created a class of succubus "therapists"who profit off of a constipated claim that they know what all women are really "thinking". It's pure rubbish.
Ross Mirkarimi is dutifully attending all these little sessions and will be for some time. It's more than enough, considering that though chastened, he had the strength not to fold when the political lynch mob tried their best to make him. It was a test of fire, and they have not destroyed him or his family.

The best solution would be to reinstate him and give him his back pay. Anything short of that may soothe some political cowardice, but will end up costing San Francisco a whole lot more eventually.

p.s. Eliana didn't have either fear or grief. She did have a mother's desperate worry that a divorce could keep her from her child. She prefers Venezuela to SF. Can you blame her? She comes from a country with hostile relations with the US. Getting a green card or getting custory of an American-born child in such a situation would be a sysyphean task. Ivory Madison told her she'd make a tape that could be used for insurance, and that it would be confidential. Ivory Madison told Eliana that her powerful friends like Phil Bronstein knew that charging domestic violence gives one a lot of power in a custody situation.Ivory Madison told Eliana she would have little power in a custody battle, going against a well-known American politician.It sounded reasonable to Eliana,and it wasn't untrue, after all.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 05, 2012 @ 3:44 pm

but it bothers me that at the same time you seem to be expressing agnosticism as to whether Ross was guilty of domestic violence.

Remember, Ross was charged with misdemeanor domestic violence, child endangerment, and witness intimidation, but plead guilty only to misdemeanor false imprisonment. This he did while deprived of his -- and Eliana's desire to live together as a family, and when faced with a trial in a courthouse shaded by billboard proclaiming his guilt; a jury pool contaminated by repeated scurrilous and salacious accusations being made by a politically charged media.

Non-maven, there actually *are* such things as private family matters: not every family squabble needs to be analyzed to your satisfaction by a bank of psychotherapists in the public arena. This isn't to say that Ross wasn't wrong to use that phrase; in fact he's *postitively* *said* *so* on numerous occasions, including during the Ethics Commission hearings -- though apparently that wasn't public enough for you -- but you should consider that there are nuances to this as well as most things in life.

Ross momentarily grabbed his wife's arm. That was wrong as everybody agrees, but it *did* *not* demonstrate an intent to cause an injury as, say, Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White's slamming her husband in the back of the head *twice* with a heavy glass beer stein -- later, by-the-way, claiming it was a "private, family matter."

Ross' momentary arm grab wasn't the same as Mason Mayer's two-fisted beat-down of his girlfriend complete with bloodied eyes, torn eyelash, ripped earlobe, and repeated death threats which DA Gascon recently settled down to misdemeanor false imprisonment -- the exact same charges with the exact same punishment as he exacted from Sheriff Mirkarimi for his momentary lapse.

What I'm pointing out, non-maven, is that to a much larger degree than all the fury and indignation being emitted by the domestic violence prevention and prosecution community, Ross' momentary lapse *was* a private family matter. His mistaken reaction to having actually said that can be attributed to the grossly unfair -- and quite suspicious -- circumstances in which the matter came to light.

Remember: there was no police complaint originating from Eliana. Eliana didn't require so much as a bandaid. Again, I am not saying that Ross grabbing his wife's arm was okay. He has clearly stated that it was wrong and he regrets it. Just remember, this case was used as part of a politically motivated scheme to overturn an election and deliver a setback to the progressive forces in local government; the very forces whom the domestic violence community owe for advances made in their cause.

Listen to Ross' testimony in front of the Ethics Commission. He made clear how important it is for domestic violence victims to be able to come forward.

Posted by lillipublicans on Oct. 05, 2012 @ 4:36 pm

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