Mirkarimi takes the oath

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The room was packed for the inauguration of Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, and for the most part, the crowd wasn’t talking about what Mirkarimi referred to as the “cloud” hanging over the event. He mentioned the investigation into possible domestic violence only that once, then joked that he’d managed to get a lot of press to his event.

There was music, dancing, former Mayor Art Agnos administering the oath of office, a long, long Mirkarimi speech on criminal justice policy (please, Ross, 15 minutes would have been plenty). Most of Mirkarimi’s progressive colleagues (including supervisors John Avalos, David Campos, Jane Kim, and Eric Mar, state Sen. Mark Leno and Assemblymember Tom Ammiano) were on hand. And the press conference afterward was surprisingly mild.

Mirkarimi was asked what happened the night in question, and he declined to talk about it, saying the criminal justice system would work its way through the process. Then his wife, Eliana Lopez, interrupted, took the mike, and announced that this was a “family matter” and she would have no more to say – except that she has no complaints about her husband.

That was it. No shouted questions as the sheriff walked away, no 1000-watt camera flashes in his eyes, nothing to indicate that this is the gigantic scandal that it’s become in the daily papers.

But Mirkarimi did make one statement that’s worth mentioning: He said that there were forces in the department (I think he meant the Police Department) that didn’t want to see him as sheriff. That’s absolutely true.

Let me make a few points here.

First, for the record: There’s no excuse for assaulting anyone, and there’s less excuse for assaulting your wife. Domestic violence is a serious, under-reported problem, something all too often dismissed by the authorities – with catastrophic results. Women die because batterers are not held to account. I have close friends who have been in abusive relationships, and it’s not pretty and it’s not a joke and it’s not something to take lightly.

That said: I don’t know what happened that night at Mirkarimi’s house. But I do know that the minute the cops were brought in, it became political.

See, the cops, for the most part, are not Mirkarimi fans. He beat their guy, former Police Officers Association president Chris Cunnie, in the race for sheriff. He’s demanded changes in the department (including foot patrols, which a lot of old-timers don’t like). He also beat a sheriff’s captain. He’s a civilian who is going to run a law-enforcement agency as a civilian, which means he’s not part of the Fraternity.

The news reports about the incident were clearly leaked by the SFPD. So, I’m sure, was the search warrant (that’s a public document, but I honestly don’t think the Examiner tracked it down, I think it was delivered to the paper by a source in the department). Nothing wrong with that – cops (and politicians) tip reporters to stories all the time. I’m not blaming the Chron or the Ex for doing the story – it’s news, you have to report it.

And, of course, if the cops had ignored the case or downplayed it, they would have been criticized for covering up an incident involving the new sheriff.

Again: I’m not excusing Mirkarimi’s behavior (alleged behavior -- we don’t know what actually happened). But the way the story and the details were leaked reflects the political reality that the cops don’t love the new sheriff, and a lot of them would be thrilled to take him down. That’s just political reality.

Which means Mirkarimi needs to be very, very careful – there are people watching every single move he makes, every day. And they’re not interested in policy debates.

PS: The D.A. and the cops managed to finish this particular investigation in record time. I wonder what’s happened to the investigation into possible vote fraud in the Ed Lee campaign. Months have passed. Nobody is facing any charges. There are no police leaks about anyone involved. Funny, that.

Comments

that Ross has probably neutralized much of his influence here. And given that Mike had already done all the easy liberal reforms, Ross could turn out to be a damp squid. For the most part, being Sherriff is a matter of following rules and procedures. Not so political for an idelog like Ross, even when he's not beating up his wife.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 09, 2012 @ 6:27 pm

and it is coming out to play now that it is safe

Posted by Guest on Jan. 09, 2012 @ 11:40 pm

Progressive and liberal women can meet with electoral success and there can still be sexism and misogyny in the progressive and liberal political communities, the two are not mutually exclusive.

Posted by marcos on Jan. 09, 2012 @ 7:11 pm

First of all, I just want to say this was a pretty well balanced and nuanced piece, IMO, unlike what some commentators seem to suggest. The part about the double standard does need to be mentioned. But Tim is wrong to imply inconsistency. They're actually quite consistent at doing what they do. It's just that the city's machine-controlled criminal justice system isn't in the business of prosecuting domestic violence. They're in the business of playing hardball politics, and at that they're VERY consistent.

When Julius Thurmond beat the crap out of his partner, the partner having called police telling them he feared for his life, that's just fine. DA Kamala Harris, a woman who claims she prides herself on tackling domestic violence, not only didn't do anything, but swept it under the rug. Then they made Julius a police commissioner!

And Chief Hayes-White, apparently quite the thug in her own right, allegedly assaulted her husband, who also called the cops on her. She wasn't charged either.

In Mirk's case, of course, they're going to do everything possible to throw the book at him. Doubt that they'll get anywhere in court with an alleged victim who has no complaint, but that's not the point. The point is to generate headlines which look good on glossy campaign mailers, which the Comical and the Ex will be only too happy to provide.

This is quite consistent on the part of the machine-controlled "justice" system. The machine is very consistent about protecting itself, whether that means burying crimes committed by politicians aligned with the machine, and agressively working to destroy those who aren't.

But there's one other way in which the SF "justice" system is entirely consistent in prosecuting these cases: in EACH one of these three cases, the word of the alleged victim doesn't mean squat. Note that in each of the above three cases, the wishes of the alleged victim are COMPLETELY ignored. Why? Well, go back to what I said at the beginning. The SF justice system is not in the business of helping domestic violence victims. When useful, victims in high profile dv cases will be used as pawns, but at no time does the system really care about them. Some shills will even cry crocodile tears about how victims are being ignored, and then proceed to ignore the alleged vicitm. I won't name names, but you can see this in some comments above.

See, personally, I may be one of the few people here who actually does think the word of the alleged victim matters a lot. It's shouldn't be the end all/be all of criminal prosecutions. People can make false allegations (witness the DSK case, which was probably a case in point), and real victims may not want to come forward for a number of reasons (some entirely valid, mind you!). But if someone does come forward with a complaint, then I think the system at least owes them their day in court, which didn't happen with either the Julius Thurman case or the Hayes-White case. And conversely, if the alleged victim really doesn't want the police involved, there had better be some massive, overwhelming evidence that a crime has been committed, because prosecuting on behalf of a "victim" who doesn't feel "victimized" is very likely to turn into a collossal waste of taxpayer money.

But here I go again slipping into naivete thinking that the "justice" system is in the business of prosecuting crime!

Posted by Greg on Jan. 09, 2012 @ 11:40 pm

Your self referential ravings mixed with "the conspiracy" (tm) are just as weird and nutty as those of Redmond.

What a mish mash of paranoid nonsense mixed with Pseudo insider ravings.

Much of your ravings come down to, "Three people can keep a secret but only if two of them are dead."

To further all these "progressive" conspiracy theories or natural wonders of happenstance would take an army of conspiracy henchmen.

Perhaps our magical overlords are sleeping on the clock and everything is just as it seems? Cops and DA's do what they feel like, they lose interest in cases, witnesses recant or lose interest, witnesses have a varied amount of interest and reliability, victims and witnesses have a varied amount of invested interest and self interest... etc...

But in the world of some it's all part of a magic high five.

Posted by matlock on Jan. 10, 2012 @ 12:28 am

Go to bed matlock. You're not making any sense.

Posted by Greg on Jan. 10, 2012 @ 12:42 am

I was trying to write like you, I did a pretty good job of spinning out gibberish while including your self important delusions, weird conspiracy theories, persecution fantasies and just plain disparate paranoid ravings.

The progressive uni-mind line here is that "sure spousal abuse is bad, but this time it's just the conspiracy out to get a good progressive."

It's really hard to make the assumption that you progressive are capable of thinking for yourselves when your outrage is so politically motivated.

====

the conspiracy

"This is quite consistent on the part of the machine-controlled "justice" system. "

self important

"See, personally, I may be one of the few people here who actually does think the word of the alleged victim matters a lot."

the conspiracy and persecution fantasies

"The point is to generate headlines which look good on glossy campaign mailers, which the Comical and the Ex will be only too happy to provide. "

self important

"But here I go again slipping into naivete thinking that the "justice" system is in the business of prosecuting crime! "

paranoid ravings

"It's just that the city's machine-controlled criminal justice system isn't in the business of prosecuting domestic violence. They're in the business of playing hardball politics, and at that they're VERY consistent."

===

You're whole post is a gold mine of crack pot left wing non sense. I was trying to parody it, but you are the master.

Posted by experts agree on Jan. 10, 2012 @ 7:11 am

I wrote a coherent post. You wrote gibberish in order to derail any serious conversation.

The point seems to be that the justice system is totally fair, there's no politics involved, that the police and the corporate media are not political actors aligned with one side, etc. That's clearly not the case.

And the right is simply out there in the best interests of the victim, which is clearly baloney. The right has the audacity to accuse progressives of ignoring the wishes of the victim, when I clearly showed that in all three recent high profile cases of dv, the right is consistently arguing for IGNORING the wishes of the alleged victim, while progressives are consistently arguing for taking the wishes of the alleged victim into account.

Left is right. Black is white. Whatever fits your anti-progressive diatribe at the moment. It's always Year Zero with you.

Posted by Greg on Jan. 10, 2012 @ 7:59 am

If you lose an election it's because you were outspent or the voters were duped, after the loss talk about momentum on election day or whine about the numbers, claim victory anyways.

If the leadership of the republican party is all white males, it's because it's a racist organization, if the local progressive sect is run by white males, well never mind.

If a local progressive is accused of abuse and the cops are called in, then it makes the papers, its the usual conspiracy of the establishment.

etc...

Saul Alinski need not have bothered to write his essay, true believers have all the defense mechanism in place without having to go to all the trouble of putting a book together.

Expect perfection from the government, even though that is impossible, in this case Greg expects all of these cases to be treated the same over the years, when they are not, it's all part of the conspiracy.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 10, 2012 @ 10:06 am

Thank God my neighbor isn't Ivory Madison! What kind of friend/neighbor tries to get their "friend/neighbor"' fired from his job? And who calls the SFPD to solve a problem? Sheesh. Nothing comical about trying to sell more comics...

Posted by CONCERNED CITIZEN on Jan. 10, 2012 @ 12:13 am

Going to the police is not called reporting, it is called SNITCHING

Posted by Gonzo Nouveau on Jan. 10, 2012 @ 12:16 am

They say what is done in the dark will come to light
thus the pre-emptive strike by SFPD and informants/snitches/faux reporters

Clearly there are some people out there who did not want their dirty secrets known and they knew Ross is the kind of guy who can do a stellar job as Sheriff and get rid of all the dirty laundry in SF. SFPD cannot handle the heat of a real man ready to delve into the misconduct that has left people dead.

Posted by Gonzo Nouveau on Jan. 10, 2012 @ 12:18 am

idiot.

Posted by experts agree on Jan. 10, 2012 @ 12:32 am

It sounds like your style (note the histrionics in the last couple ofsentences). Why post under the name Gonzo? It sounds you're putting words in the mouth of a SF pol. Not too classy

Posted by Guest on Jan. 10, 2012 @ 3:25 pm

the mysterious vigilante known as the Huntress,BY
New writer Ivory Madison shines a light on the dark underbelly...LET'S SEE: cops=beaters lesbians=beaters new pr seeking authors=beaters

Posted by Guest on Jan. 10, 2012 @ 3:03 am

Regardless of how many times the author of this opinion piece says that domestic abuse is wrong, etc., the point is that he spent time and energy writing about a potential conspiracy against Mirkarimi rather than spending time and energy writing a piece about how serious these allegations are and that we need a swift investigation.

While I don't think this was the intent, it comes across that a case of domestic violence by an elected official (where there appears to be some good evidence) is not as important as a theory that the cops are out to get a beloved "progressive" (where there is less evidence). Thus, it gives the appearance that Tim Redmond is more concerned with how a progressive is treated rather than a potential victim of domestic abuse.

And, I came to this blog wondering if Redmond would be more interested in a progressive or is wife, predicting the former, and I'm not surprised to find out I'm correct. Tim Redmond and the Bay Guardian are nothing if not totally predictable.

Posted by Ryan C on Jan. 10, 2012 @ 9:45 am

Is this the guy who had door hangers dropped in D6 that had a bottle of urine and a turd of poo in 2006?

Posted by marcos on Jan. 10, 2012 @ 10:26 am

Are you talking to me? If so, the answer is no.

Posted by Ryan C on Jan. 10, 2012 @ 10:50 am

"I came to this blog wondering if Redmond would be more interested in a progressive or is wife, predicting the former, and I'm not surprised to find out I'm correct."

And yet his wife says that she neither needs nor wants your help. Perfect example of those mods who cry crocodile tears that no one pays attention to the victims, and then in the next breath proceed to ignore the supposed victim they care so much about. Completely oblivious to their own glaring hypocrisy!

Posted by Greg on Jan. 10, 2012 @ 11:35 am

I am not a "mod," and I voted for Mirkarimi. Nor am I claiming to "help" his wife. That is for the DA. I just think it is kind of gross that the Bay Guardian chose to write about a conspiracy theory rather than focus on the much more important issue of the potential domestic violence. Or stay silent until the DA makes a decision.

Posted by Ryan on Jan. 11, 2012 @ 1:50 pm

I agree with you. Trying to wipe away a serious issue by seeing a conspiracy around every corner.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 12, 2012 @ 4:44 pm

How can someone remain licensed by the State Bar of California after divulging private conversations?

What kind of police department press releases domestic violence?

Eliana is right that this is a "family matter". Domestic violence records are usually sealed and not available to the public. If there was a physical tussle how do we know if it was perhaps part of their New Year's Eve Celebration? SF is the land of alternative expressions of love and lust. Did the spycam have a zoom lens?

INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY

Posted by Gonzo Nouveau on Jan. 10, 2012 @ 11:27 am

Eliana was not talking to Ivory as her attorney. Thus their conversation is not covered under attorney-client confidentiality.

Victims of abuse often do not want to press charges against their victimizers - that is specifically why DV law is written allowing a case to be pressed without the cooperation of the victim.

And I know I ALWAYS leave bruises on the arms of my partner on New Years. It's not a normal New Years without a couple of bruises on your partner's arm!!

Posted by H. Monk-Brown CI on Jan. 10, 2012 @ 11:29 pm

We should always listen to the victim... unless of course she's saying that she's not a victim. Then ignore her.

But if the person accused of dv is not progressive but a well-connected machine politician (as in the case of Hayes-White and Julius Thurman), then ignore the victim.

You can't blame me for being confused, because the "correct" response seems to be a bit complicated, but I think I'm finally beginning to understand the essence of the philosophy here.

Posted by Greg on Jan. 11, 2012 @ 8:19 am

SF has a zero tolerance policy to DV, meaning that all cases proceed. No diversion, no need for the victim to press charges, and little chance of changing the charge to a non-DV case because, frankly, the city gets State and Federal cash for pursuing DV cases vigorously.

And the irony is that it was liberal policies that made this so.

A much better question to ask is why one of the few progressive politicians ever to win a city-wide election near sabotages his career in the very week he is inaugurated.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 11, 2012 @ 9:29 am

DV laws work exactly the way the politicians in charge of interpreting them choose to do so.

What you're describing is a fantasy world where the DA is independent of the dirty political process. In the real world the DA is a politician aligned with one faction or the other.

Your conception of how the DV laws work fails to explain why Fire Chief Hayes-White and now-Police Commissioner Julius Thurman weren't even charged with anything, even though the evidence was clear-cut, the degree of assault they were accused of was orders of magnitude worse than anything Mirk is being accused of, and the victims called the police themselves and in one case even begged the police for protection because the victim feared for his life.

Posted by Greg on Jan. 11, 2012 @ 10:01 am

opportunistic women a strategy for taking their guy out of action, thru the use of automatic TRO's that can ban a man from his home for something as simple as the type of push that probably gave Ross's wife that unsightly bruise.

But given Ross's position, anything less than vigorous and aggressive prosecution will satisfy the people. We deserve better than this.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 11, 2012 @ 12:13 pm

cases than did Kamala Harris? Regardless - she chose to proceed one way and he's chosen to proceed another. If you have questions on the difference why then maybe you need to call up old Kamala before she runs for her next political office and ask her.

Posted by H. Monk-Brown CI on Jan. 11, 2012 @ 1:12 pm

Really? You think it's because Gascon is just tougher on domestic violence than Kamala Harris?

I think you're grasping at straws -anything to deny the basic reality that politicians, including the DA, are political actors who take sides.

Posted by Greg on Jan. 11, 2012 @ 3:56 pm

You seem to believe that this is some witch hunt, while it is a pedestrian procedural operation. Mirkarimi is in a elected job with limited power to set policy, in what in reality is a provincial city full of provincials with grandiose dreams.

You have reached the "media conspiracy to get Nixon impeached" stage.

Posted by Matlock on Jan. 11, 2012 @ 1:32 pm

Once again, you've painted yourself into a corner, essentially arguing that politics plays no role in decisions that politicians make.

Outside the echo chamber, whatever people think of Mirkarimi, I doubt that you'll find many who would be surprised that the DA makes political choices about who to prosecute and who's ass to cover.

Posted by Greg on Jan. 11, 2012 @ 4:03 pm

Here is the thing, nearly any allegation of DV is charged by the San Francisco DA's office, Mirk knows this.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 12, 2012 @ 3:16 pm

I think the DA has much more leeway than people think. Certain cases are very hard to prove, especially minor ones, with no prior history, where the alleged victim not only doesn't cooperate, but is willing and able to act as a witness for the defense. I think the DA does not charge or winds up dropping a lot of those cases, otherwise they'd be wasting enormous amounts of tax money on cases they can't get a conviction for.

But if indeed what you say is true, then it makes it look even more political, considering two recent high-profile cases of DV that involved machine-aligned politicians were somehow not pursued by the DA. If the DA's hands were so tied, I wonder how they managed not to pursue charges against Hayes-White and Thurman? Even WITH a cooperative victim, mind you!

Posted by Greg on Jan. 12, 2012 @ 3:39 pm

I don't know anything about those other cases.

I do know about many DV cases in San Francisco that involve normal every day people who got into an argument, and one touched the other in a way that at the time they did not like (even in self defense at times). I know that some of victims in these cases recanted or never spoke to the police, did not want their partner prosecuted, yet domestic batteries were charged and successfully prosecuted.

If there was photographic evidence with corroborating written statements, I would expect a successful prosecution.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 12, 2012 @ 4:50 pm

Please give some citations on what happened with Thurman and Hayes-White. Police reports are public documents, so I would expect that you can track them down and post them somewhere. Or the SFBG would be getting these docs to prove this political witchhunt.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 12, 2012 @ 6:02 pm

Citations provided. Amazing what a couple minutes with da google can do

Posted by Greg on Jan. 12, 2012 @ 6:56 pm

an independent source would be better (actually I did exhaustive searches on these names and found nothing except your posts)

Posted by Guest on Jan. 13, 2012 @ 8:51 am

My post from Jan 12 6:55PM has links... from independent sources... the first two I could find... took me 30 seconds each... not very exhaustive.

Posted by Greg on Jan. 13, 2012 @ 1:40 pm

putting the con in Comic-Con

Posted by Obsidian Peacenik on Jan. 10, 2012 @ 11:41 am

Ross Mirkarimi needs counseling.

Anyone who beat his wife (there is video evidence) and then claims there is a political conspiracy against him is acting truly Nixonian.

Posted by Typical male response on Jan. 12, 2012 @ 7:16 am

Here I was thinking there's just a video of a bruise on a person's arm! Now you're telling us there's also a video of him beating his wife. Well, then, if you can provide a link to that video, or even to a report that such a video exists, I think that will change a lot of minds.

Posted by Greg on Jan. 12, 2012 @ 8:23 am

have at this stage, let alone post it to YouTube, so asking for a link is ridiculous. Not everything that is true has a link.

But a DV conviction automatically comes with 12 months counseling and anger management anyway. Ironically the list of approved counsellors is issued by - you've guess it - the Sherriff's Department.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 12, 2012 @ 11:26 am

Thus far, all I've heard is rumors of a video of a bruise. I haven't even heard of a suggestion that there's a video of Mirkarimi actually beating his wife. My response was tinged with sarcasm, because Typical Male Response suggested something far beyond anything that has been talked about thus far (video evidence of Mirk beating his wife). I'm just correcting the factual record to say that no such evidence exists (at least not to my knowledge). That's all I'm sayin'.

Posted by Greg on Jan. 12, 2012 @ 11:45 am

He definitely stuck her. That in itself should merit a need for counseling.

Beyond that, let the DA an/or the courts decide.

In the meantime, he needs anger-management therapy.

Posted by Typical male response on Jan. 12, 2012 @ 1:13 pm

Boys, the Vigilance Committee meets over at the jail... High noon. Why bother with a trial? All we need is seven strong (and dangerously deluded) men...anyone willing to play judge and jury.

Posted by Birth of a Nation on Jan. 12, 2012 @ 2:03 pm

As a matter of fact, there is a group called the Domestic Violence Consortium which has sent me an email asking me to come to their press conference calling on Mirk to resign. They're meeting at City Hall (not the jail), right this minute as a matter of fact. They don't need no stinkin' courts. They're willing to act as judge, jury, AND executioner.

Truth is stranger than fiction my friend.

Posted by Greg on Jan. 12, 2012 @ 2:12 pm

A TRO will often be issued right from the outset. The prosecution can proceed even without the victim. And the punishment can extend infinitely e.g. no right to own a firearm.

So yes, SF has a zero tolerance policy towards DV and in a real sense, guilt is assumed from the outset.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 12, 2012 @ 2:35 pm

The larger question, of course is, is this right? Is this the way it should be? I'm a big believer in innocent until proven guilty.

In practice, however, there is a bit of nuance, even in San Francisco. For one thing, while it's true that the prosecution can proceed without the victim's cooperation, in practice it's almost impossible to gain a conviction in such a case, especially if the allegation is as relatively minor as a single case of an arm grabbing which supposedly resulted in a bruise. The DA usually doesn't bother to charge such cases because they know they won't get anywhere.

And of course, contrary to what some would claim, the DA actually has TREMENDOUS leeway. If the DA did not, the Fire Chief Hayes-White as well as Julius Thurman would have definitely been tried for domestic violence. Allegations against them were MUCH more serious (in one case the victim was beaten so badly that he feared he was going to die). And in both of those cases, the victims themselves complained. And yet, they weren't tried.

Of course that begs the question of why not...

Posted by Greg on Jan. 12, 2012 @ 2:58 pm

if their cases merited it. DV cases should not be subject to political discretion. The fact that you're suggesting Kamala Harris did so does nothing to diminish the decision of Gascon to NOT do so with Mirkarimi. You're making a very strange argument here which seems to boil down to the fact that since other political notables got away with abusing their partners then Ross should get away with it too.

I disagree. No one should get away with it. The fact that Hayes-White and Thurman DID speaks volumes about Harris and her judgment. NOT about Gascon.

Posted by H. Monk-Brown CI on Jan. 12, 2012 @ 4:35 pm

But those cases WEREN'T handled that way. And that didn't happen by accident. Nor is it sufficient explanation to just shrug your shoulders and say "aw shucks, well I guess Gascon is just more serious about DV than Harris..." Um... no. Gascon and Harris are political operators in the same system, and both are making political decisions. And what about the media? Where was the Chronicle and why weren't they making a stink about those cases? Where were all the self-appointed advocates coming out of the woodwork now? Where were YOU? Sorry, your explanation just doesn't cut it.

And where was Gascon? Not Harris, but GASCON. The statute of limitations on these cases had not expired. They were pretty recent you know. Thurman was just appointed Police Commissioner with the support of the whole political machine, notwithstanding his DV history. Hell, if Gascon is serious about prosecuting DV, he can still charge them! Sorry, I don't buy what you're selling here.

As for my argument... my argument is multifaceted. I'm calling out the hypocrisy, yes, because that's important. But I'm also calling for people not to jump to conclusions, and to look at the case itself, including giving some credibility and support to the alleged "victim" rather than trying to speak for her and treating her like a child.

Posted by Greg on Jan. 12, 2012 @ 5:32 pm