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

The thing is the DA's office is filled with competing political viewpoints, if these were buried for something other than lack of evidence, than someone would have leaked the fact.

As I am unable to find a single article about either of these cases, I doubt they were all that open and shut. (nor do I know who these people really are)

Posted by Guest on Jan. 12, 2012 @ 5:55 pm
Posted by Greg on Jan. 12, 2012 @ 6:55 pm

Thurman WAS charged Mirkarimi hasn't up until this point

Posted by Guest on Jan. 13, 2012 @ 8:56 am

Turman clearly raised his fists above elbow level and used them, that's how Thorne got his face cratered in.

There is no physical evidence that Ross raised his fists.

Posted by marcos on Jan. 13, 2012 @ 9:16 am

And Ross was charged with battery. Look it up, it is defined as "Offensive Touching"

That means touching of any type that the victim finds offensive, is meant to harm or restrain.

As for Thurman it doesn't matter what happened in that case, as the case was charged, and then the charges were dropped, most likely the DA didn't think they could get a conviction for whatever reason. Then 5 years later he was up for a position. When the charges were filed he was just a Lawyer in the Castro.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 13, 2012 @ 5:23 pm

In essence - those who are politically connected should not have to follow the same rules as everyone else. Because, according to Greg, two politically-connected people weren't charged with DV under a previous DA means Ross Mirkarimi shouldn't be charged either. The inconsistency is incomprehensible to Greg - as is the application of DV laws which evidently were fine until Mirkarmi was ensnared in their net. Now they need to be "reworked." Greg has now realized that the victimization ideology has flaws - and he doesn't like it one bit. The "victim" is no longer a "victim" even though the LAW says she is a "victim."

Greg is using the same argument Obama used to refuse to prosecute Bush-era torture violations. "We must move on."

Posted by H. Monk-Brown CI on Jan. 12, 2012 @ 7:21 pm

Where did I say anything of the sort? You obviously don't have a good response to the arguments I actually did make, so you choose to create a straw man version of myself. Arguing with straw men, dismissing anyone who disagrees as a conspiracy theorist, and insinuating that those who disagree are sexist... I've noticed that these are the pillars of those on the other side of this debate. Weak.

Posted by Greg on Jan. 12, 2012 @ 7:41 pm

Not at all jackass, it means the mayor should remove his fire chief, and apply the same moral outrage to his loyal sheep as he does to officials who demonstrate a higher calling than keeping their noses up some politician's anus.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 15, 2012 @ 2:09 pm

Hmonk only a loyalist can pretend like you do not to understand what has been explained to you specifically several times.....

....that it is not too late for the mayor to act on the DV charge against Hayes-White by removing her, and that he choses not to move against a loyalist demonstrates the political nature of his interest, not doubt upon the demented advice of his usual controllers.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 15, 2012 @ 2:29 pm
Posted by Birth of a Nation on Jan. 12, 2012 @ 4:09 pm

Hey Greg wonder if they'll call for the head of Joanne Hayes-White or will they show "loyality?"

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

It's not a joke and it's not an "internal family matter." When he became elected sheriff, even before he took the oath, the political reality surrounding him changed. And yet he acted as if that weren't the case - as if this were an annoying fly which he could swat away, as if he were still a supervisor and not sheriff-elect - a citywide position.

This has probably been one of the worst miscalculations I have ever seen a politician make. Regardless of the reasons why it occurred Ross failed to exercise any damage control other than having Tim write a strange denial/apology mentioning the "dark forces" at work here - which really had the effect of kicking the beehive. Then he and his wife became defensive and then a whispering campaign began against their neighbor - dragging her name and reputation through the mud.

Totally inept. The spectacle of San Francisco's sitting sheriff going through a domestic abuse trial is incredibly vulgar and it appears at this late stage that Ross and his defenders are willing to put both the city and his family through that to bring this to a conclusion. Regardless of WHAT that conclusion is, any further political future for Ross is over - I doubt whether he'll even be re-elected to the sheriff's office if he decides to run again in 4 years.

Posted by H. Monk-Brown CI on Jan. 12, 2012 @ 2:06 pm

The SFBG post is total apologism and classic pseudo-journalism (i.e., advocacy that passes for reporting). The reports were "clearly" leaked by SFPD (no source for that), so "I'm sure" (says the writer) were the warrants (again, no sources).
If you can prove it, print it. Otherwise, it's gossip. If this was Sheriff Gavin Newsom, you best believe that Redmond would be howling for his resignation immediately. And the comparison to the speed of an investigation of voter fraud is pretty insulting when comparing it to a DV allegation. No one's physically endanger because of voter fraud.

All of which misses the point - Mirkarimi is the sheriff. His job is to run the department that serves and enforces restraining orders on DV abusers and helps the victims. He has to be above reproach. It's not whether he is or is not guilty; it's a taint that affects everything he does as a law enforcement official. It also is a slap to DV victims who see a law enforcement officer try to treat this as a "private" matter or one that is "out of context". It's just sad apologism by people who cannot accept the possibility that a "progessive" may have done a very "neanderthal" thing.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 12, 2012 @ 3:03 pm

But I missed the Tim Redmond column that howled for Fire Chief Hayes-White's resignation.

I also missed the column howling for Newsom's resignation when he was having sex with one of his employees (who just happened to be his best friend's wife).

Neither you nor I know for sure, of course, but given the above, I'm guessing that Redmond probably wouldn't be rushing to judgement even if it were Gavin Newsom.

As for the slap at DV victims... here's what I think is a slap. Everyone calling on Ross to resign is essentially calling his wife a liar. Now that's not being very supportive, is it now?

The problem that the haters can't shake is that the "sister" that the self-appointed advocates are defending isn't going along with the script. Don't you hate it when that happens?

Posted by Greg on Jan. 12, 2012 @ 3:29 pm

Unless he's found guilty - then he should resign.

But you didn't provide a counter to anything I said otherwise - this vulgar episode has been handled ineptly by Ross and his defenders and as a result, no matter what happens in the trial - he will be less effective as sheriff. Those are facts. It has nothing to do with anyone else or with "dark forces" in the sheriff's department - it has everything to do with Ross' bad judgement and that of his supporters. This episode was handled ineptly from the moment it happened. Everything Ross, his wife and his supporters (like Tim) have done has had the effect of throwing gasoline on a bonfire.

Posted by H. Monk-Brown CI on Jan. 12, 2012 @ 3:38 pm

I doubt that the SFBG would have called for the ouster of the first female fire chief in city history, in fact I'm almost sure of it, given how long it took SFFD to accept women in leadership. Moreover, the fire chief is typically a non-partisan job and is not an elected official like a sheriff. And, last time I checked, an affair with someone wasn't illegal, but DV sure as hell is.

You also miss the point about why DV cases are prosecuted even when the spouse is not cooperative. Because sometimes a spouse who is abused is too afraid to pursue it.

I stand by what I said: you want to be a law enforcement official, you better be above reproach. Because if you're going to tell other people how to follow the law, there cannot be any questions about you. And now, people have questions. Legitimate ones, and they're not getting answers.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 12, 2012 @ 4:43 pm

I'm sure you'll be there with quotes like this:

"you want to be a law enforcement official, you better be above reproach. Because if you're going to tell other people how to follow the law, there cannot be any questions about you."

" You also miss the point about why DV cases are prosecuted even when the spouse is not cooperative. Because sometimes a spouse who is abused is too afraid to pursue it."

And sometimes they're not prosecuted. And most of the time even when they are, they fail in these cases. Because they're incredibly hard to prove. And sometimes... the spouse may just be telling the truth! Imagine that. Personally, I'm not willing to call Ms. Lopez a liar just yet. I don't think that would be very supportive.

Posted by Greg on Jan. 12, 2012 @ 5:00 pm

A cop charged with police brutality is a whole lot different than your wife going to a neighbor's house on New Year's Eve to photograph bruises your husband supposedly left. But a police officer who is charged with DV is put on leave by department rules; the Sheriff will not be going "on leave". Recall what happened to Greg Suhr- the SFPD officer who former Chief Fong accused of failing to report a DV incident that did not involve him. His pay was reduced and his rank was reduced. He paid a price and never committed a single crime and wasn't accused of committing one. So I'd say the SFPD knows how to deal with this issue.

But since this case is now being prosecuted, I think your last point is moot.

No one called her a liar.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 13, 2012 @ 3:02 pm

The claim that there should be a fundamental difference in the enforcement of DV between public officials only demonstrates the political nature of these charges and the venality of the "loyalists."

That the Fire Chief gets a pass on assault with a deadly weapon against her spouse because she if the first female fire chief demonstrates a certain degree of politics in this process, which makes the TRO against Mirkarimi unforgivable and screaming for a response.

I predict right now that Mirkarimi remains sheriff, and as for Gascon, I keep thinking about a phrase I heard the first time this week, "stomp a mud hole into him."

Posted by Guest on Jan. 15, 2012 @ 2:17 pm

"May have" are the key words here. At this stage, there is no proof that an act of dv took place. It may have...or it may NOT have. That's all we know. If it turns out that Ross is guilty, I will join you in demanding that he step down. But not before. Why is it so hard for people to wait and let justice take its course through the courts?

As everyone knows, the accused is considered INNOCENT until proven guilty. Yet, Mirkarimi is being tried in the press, as if we already know all the facts in this case (we don't) and before he has been found guilty in a court of law. For all we know, Ross could be acquitted, once the judge or jury examines all the evidence.

Yet, people are already demanding his head -- yelling for him to step down -- as if it were an open and shut case. There's a word for that. It's called vigilante justice. Unfortunately, we have a long, sorry history of this in America.

Why this rush to judgment?

Posted by Birth of a Nation on Jan. 12, 2012 @ 3:45 pm

He should step down until the DA's office completes its investigation. Wife beater Ross had destroyed the city.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 12, 2012 @ 9:56 pm

Sadly, Ross's poor judgement will undo his promise as sheriff - I hope he is able to retrieve the most important thing in his life - his wife and family = God Bless, Ross

Posted by Guest on Jan. 12, 2012 @ 11:18 pm

"Those who know Mr. Mirkarimi, currently the most liberal citywide elected official, said the allegations of domestic violence are completely out of character.

“'I was shocked when I read about it,' Evelyn Nieves, a journalist and a past partner of Mr. Mirkarimi’s, said in an e-mail. 'Ross and I were together for the better part of a decade — eight years or so — and never once did he even come close to being physical during an argument.'

“'It’s just not his way,' Ms. Nieves added. 'He was way more prone to proposing that disagreements be talked out. He could talk and talk.'"

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/13/us/public-concern-over-mirkarimis-priv...

Posted by Lisa on Jan. 13, 2012 @ 3:23 pm

That should read, former girlfriend Evelyn Nieves comes to Ross's defense. Can we stop the witch hunt now?

Posted by Lisa on Jan. 13, 2012 @ 3:31 pm

We all believe we're allowed our day in court to answer for any criminal charges, and that we should be convicted only when there is no "reasonable doubt" as to our guilt.

But the current charges being discussed by the DA this afternoon go way beyond an unfortunate aggressive arm hold. "Dissuading a witness" (obstruction of justice?) is especially serious since it goes to the foundation of our criminal justice system, especially when allegedly perpetrated by someone sworn to uphold the law and protect the integrity of the investigative and judicial process.

Child endangerment is equally serious since, unlike a physically or emotionally abused spouse, young children have no other place to turn for protection.

If these charges are actually filed next week, the mayor should seriously consider using whatever powers he has under the city charter to name a replacement until an impartial jury has a chance to weigh in on the truthfulness of these charges.

I don't care what the politics are of the suituation - abusive behavior against children and obstructing justice are unpardonable for an elected official or anyone in law enforcement. Politicians need to think about the larger community at times - and not just their innate narcissistic tendancies - when the outstanding criminal charges are of such a serious nature. Staying in office during the criminal process reflects poorly on the politician, his closest supporters and friends, and the entire community.

The SF progressive community is suffering a tremendous blow the longer this sordid affair plays out in the newspapers. A leave of absence gets the story out of the newspapers and into the court where it belongs.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2012/01/13/BAT91MONIR.DTL

Posted by Guest on Jan. 13, 2012 @ 4:43 pm

The Penn State community was also SHOCKED that Jerry Sandusky is a child molester.

What goes on behind closed doors and public perceptions are often out of sync.

Mr. Mirkarimi has now been charged with a crime.

Apparently the DA has seen something from the evidence that you and the other deniers have not.

Posted by Bois on Jan. 13, 2012 @ 4:02 pm

I'm just asking folks to tone down the hysteria until the case goes to trial. The point is that everyone is automatically jumping to the conclusion that Mr. Mirkarimi is guilty. Yet, no one has seen the evidence, just what they've read in the press. So, you don't know what actually went on behind the closed doors. That's a fact. Yet, the hysteria got going before he was ever charged, much less convicted of a crime.

Speaking as a women, I take dv charges very seriously. I know women who have been victims of dv. I myself have had relationships with tempermental men. I know the feeling of walking on egg shells around someone with an explosive temper. The fear and the stress (and I'm no shrinking violet). So, I would be the last person to minimize something like this.

All the same, I have a firm belief in the presumption of innocence. Ya know, we have this little document called the Constitution, which is the highest law of the land. The 4th, 5th and 6th stipulate that every person has the right to a trial, to due process, to an examination of the evidence, etc. So, Mr. Mirkarimi deserves his day in court. Right now he is being tried and convicted in the press. That is just plain wrong and flies in the face of our system of justice.

Posted by Lisa on Jan. 13, 2012 @ 4:48 pm

The entire point of politically motivated prosecutions associated with protecting the prerogatives of corrupt law enforcement is to stoke hysteria.

Posted by marcos on Jan. 13, 2012 @ 5:16 pm

According to the latest news repots we're not just talking about a spousal spat that went too far. The charges include dissuading a witness (obstruction of justice) and child endangerment. At least one of these can be charged as a felony, as well it should be, since we're talking about an alleged perpetrator sworn to uphold the law and protect the integrity of the judicial system. If any politics is being played, it will show itself if the DA DOESN'T charge a felony where possible because of the sheriff's exalted political status.

This isn't about one random person caught up in a political witch hunt. This is someone who supposedy represented progressive values to the outside world. Leaders are held to much higher standards, which is one reason why leaders are so hard to find. Who wants all of the personal scrutiny along with all of the incessent name calling by political rivals?

I know you've committed most of your life in San Francisco discrediting progressives you don't like (must be nice to have so much free time), but it looks like the end is near for the local progressive movement so you'll need to find something else to do with all of your free time. Ironically, it's people like yourself, Mr. Brooks, and many other "brand name" progressives, along with the patron saints of the current sherriff and the SFBG journalist propagandists, who have brought so much distaste to the progressive movement. It looks like your job is finally done here.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 13, 2012 @ 6:01 pm

All that proves is that Gascon is a far bigger swine than anyone imagined. TRO? Child endangerment? Splitting up a family against the wishes of every member of that family?

I expected nasty politics. I expected them to try to drag Ross's character through the mud. I probably should've expected overcharging given how much the political establishment despises Ross. But Gascon has gone far beyond mere dirty politics here. The man is just vile.

Posted by Greg on Jan. 13, 2012 @ 7:52 pm

Why Hennessy's silence?

Posted by The piper on Jan. 15, 2012 @ 3:15 pm