Mayor Lee ousts Sheriff Mirkarimi

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Mayor Lee makes the announcement, flanked interim Sheriff Vicki Hennessy and City Attorney Dennis Herrera
Luke Thomas

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee temporarily removed Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi from office today over a domestic violence case, dragging this long and sordid saga into the summer as city officials prepare a rare official misconduct hearing.

The brief announcement came just minutes after a 24-hour deadline Lee had set for Mirkarimi to resign or be removed. Lee took no questions from the huge crowd of journalists that had packed into his office and offered scant explanations about why he believes the process is warranted and how it will affect the city.

Standing behind Lee were City Attorney Dennis Herrera, with whom Lee had consulted on the decision, and Vicki Hennessy, a retired chief deputy from the Sheriff’s Department who Lee named interim sheriff. Shortly before the announcement, Mirkarimi told reporters he had no intention of resigning.

“He has chosen not to resign and now I must act,” Lee told reporters, emphasizing that “I do so with an understanding of the seriousness and gravity of the situation.”

Lee made no statements about how Mirkarimi’s guilty plea to a misdemeanor false imprisonment charge – reduced down from the three more serious charges he originally faced – rose to the level of official misconduct or why it warrants his removal, other than making general statements about ethics.

“We must always be held to the highest ethical and legal standards,” Lee said, adding that Mirkarimi had failed to do so. “I’m doing what’s in the best interests of the people of San Francisco.”

Time may tell whether that last statement is true, and whether the Ethics Commission and nine members of the Board of Supervisors agree and are willing remove a public official from office in San Francisco for just the third time in the last century.

Comments

Ross has dragged the good name of the city into disrepute. not only because of his violent and unlawful actions, but even more so because of his attempt to subvert justice, suborn perjury and covering up his crimes.

Ross now has a very simple choice. Do what the people and their representatives clearly want - and resign. Or drag this city thru months od further agony, thereby harming further the progressive causes we all care so dearly about.

Ross, for ince, put aside your ego and do the right thing. for all os us who supported you.

Posted by Anonymous on Mar. 20, 2012 @ 5:17 pm

What "violent and unlawful actions?"

If you were a past Mirkarimi supporter... I don't think you'd stoop to exaggeration and bombast to explain your point of view.

Posted by lillipublicans on Apr. 05, 2012 @ 1:50 pm

This is like watching a car wreck unfold -- except the wreck just keeps getting worse and worse. And I was surprised the Sheriff's Deputies union came out with such a harsh statment about RM after his sentencing.

If this plays out poorly for him, he may end up bankrupt, unemployable, and with a reputation in tatters. He should have hired a crisis manager from the outset. So much of this could have been avoided.

Posted by The Commish on Mar. 20, 2012 @ 5:23 pm

If Ross had immediately copped to his crimes then maybe, just maybe, he could have saved himself.

Now he goes from 200K pa to pariah in zero time. I hope he really enjoyed inflicting that bruise because it has cost him everything.

Posted by Anonymous on Mar. 20, 2012 @ 5:34 pm

their jobs will be difficult or impossible as long as their department head has no mandate or credibility. The hard working men and women of the sheriff's department deserve better than having a wife-abuser and power-monger in charge, and it makes perfect sense for them to make their views known.

Until Ross goes, a vital LE function suffers from a leadership vacuum and lacks the ability to function.

Posted by Anonymous on Mar. 20, 2012 @ 5:39 pm

The sheriffs union came out the way they did because they hate Ross and have from day 1. They're still upset the people of this city didn't choose their man, who really is a brutal thug.

Posted by Greg on Mar. 20, 2012 @ 8:20 pm

No workplace, whether private or public, can function properly if the staff have no faith, trust or confidence in their "leader".

Posted by Anonymous on Mar. 21, 2012 @ 5:45 am

It's clear that the Sheriff's Department absolutely did not want Ross Mirkarimi as their leader. The campaign itself made this evident.

When he became their leader by winning the people's vote, they had no choice but to acquiesce.

However, the first opportunity that they and their political supporters saw to remove Mirkarimi from leadership, they immediately seized.

Ross did himself no favors whatsoever by breaking the law and giving all of his political enemies a perfect defense of their animosity.

Posted by Lindsay Strathmore on Mar. 25, 2012 @ 6:21 pm

Lindsay, well put -- and I support every word except that I would say that the Mirkarimi attackers do not in fact have a "perfect" defense for their animosity.

In my opinion, though the Mirkarimi haters feel they may have such a perfect defense, in reality they will continue to hang themselves on their own words.

I think the ethics law does not apply in this case and -- certainly -- that the mayor suspending Mirkarimi *without* *pay* is clearly extra-legal and will ultimately result in a judgement against the city... more fodder for the haters, I'm sure.

In reality, regardless the misbehavior and possible character flaws to which Mirkarimi has owned-up, I think there is a much wider question regarding the integrity of our city government before us.

Posted by lillipublicans on Apr. 05, 2012 @ 2:01 pm

that is my question. Perhaps the Mertens-madisons could do a little fundraising to help the child whose life has been so disturbed by their decision not to honor confidences over a bruised bicep....It's only fitting..yes?

Posted by GuestChristine Craft on Mar. 20, 2012 @ 6:06 pm

Perhaps you can help out there since you're so sure he's being railroaded. Put your money where your mouth is girl.

Posted by Troll II on Mar. 20, 2012 @ 6:21 pm

She made all kinds of ludicrous claims about how "important" she was, that most of us saw thru immediately.

Most likely, it's Eliana using a fake id.

Posted by Anonymous on Mar. 20, 2012 @ 6:37 pm

Perhaps you can help out the little boy who's family - you know the little boy's mother and father - you desperately hope gets broken up.

I'd be careful about the bad karma you're spreading - it just might come back and bite ya bad. Not wishing harm on ya - in fact I wish you well - but if it was me and I was hoping so badly to destroy a guy, destroy his marriage, destroy his financial income, destroy his wife's marriage, destroy his little kids parents' marriage, I'D BE WORRIED because that's a whole lotta bad karma to be throwin out there.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 20, 2012 @ 9:48 pm

Guest, you are misusing using the word karma. Either you are a dippy white person who does not know the true meaning, or you are a dippy Indian-American who has adopted the corrupted Western interpretation of the word. Karma is not some vodoo-juju curse. Nor does it mean punishment or retribution for ones misdeeds.

Furthermore, your post reveals a bit about your character (and it is not good) when you make implied wishes of ill will against some else, all with a phony chirpy tone. ("Not wishing harm on ya [sic]...but I'D BE WORRIED.... [all in caps to carry the meaning that yes, you do wish harm on the other person]")

As for Mr. Mirikarimi, he should resign and focus on his family and his own personal issue. The fact that he continues to cling to his office shows that he has put power above all else.

Posted by Chris on Mar. 21, 2012 @ 7:13 am

"Nor does it mean punishment or retribution for ones misdeeds."

karma [ˈkɑːmə]
n
1. (Non-Christian Religions / Hinduism) Hinduism Buddhism the principle of retributive justice determining a person's state of life and the state of his reincarnations as the effect of his past deeds.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 27, 2012 @ 9:37 pm

Do you really think the taxpayers are even vaguely interested in paying the salary of a confessed wife-beater?

Posted by Anonymous on Mar. 20, 2012 @ 6:36 pm

the point wasn't would the people of the city rather pay or not pay, the question was about whether the suspension was with or without pay....that depends on the applicable law..not pubic whim.

Posted by GuestChristine Craft on Mar. 21, 2012 @ 8:29 am

explain to you why the law is the way it is.

Posted by Anonymous on Mar. 21, 2012 @ 11:23 am

Yeah I was thinking the same thing. You got the ghouls at the Chron editorial bd and CW Nevius who can't go almost a day without having to shout to anyone who reads them that RM must must must go.

They claim it's because RM mistreated his wife. Well THE FACTS ARE what they are pushing to happen is PROBABLY A MILLION TIMES worse for his wife and their little child. For he will have a hard time making it financially and so the family may be short of living funds - the marriage may break up which would be a disaster for the child and affect the rest of his life - it may be a disaster for her too.

And of course it will be a disaster for RM - which the ghouls at the Chron and here just love. They love it so much, they care little for how badly it will hurt the little boy's life and probably his wife.

What we got here and at the Chron editorial bd and one of the main opinion writers are hard core heartless Republicans who want to punish punish punish him. They probably have to restrain themselves from writing, "kill him! kill him! kill him!"

He's such a wife beater that the lady he lived with for 8 years says that's not the RM she knew, "he always wanted to talk things out," and the lady down in LA who was gonna come up and testify against him wrote him and pleaded with him to come back and when he wouldn't, she made it clear he would pay pay pay for not coming back.

The cops can get busted on video stealing stuff from the "criminals" they are investigating and the Chron or the DA or the mayor never says a peep but when their political enemy screws up and yells at his wife and grabbed her a bit too hard, you can almost here them shouting, "yes! yes! yes! thank the lord!"

Compared to RM, all the ghouls at the Chron and here calling to almost stone the guy are the ones who really scare me.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 20, 2012 @ 9:42 pm

I've always despised Mirk for his holier-than-thou dogmatic leftism on the board, for his Green Party support that helped Al Gore lose the election in 2000. I voted for Chris Cunnie in sheriff.

But this has been a witchhunt. The man "bruised" his wife's arm. He admits he was wrong, he is in therapy now, he will serve many hours of community service.

The future precedent?

Any woman with a bruise on her arm can get her man blackmailed or arrested from here on out.

As usual, all the politicians in SF are afraid of standing up to the loudest squawkers, whether they be on the right or the left.

Posted by Troll the 14th on Mar. 20, 2012 @ 6:52 pm

The guy did what can only be described as anti-damage control.

Had he taken ownership of what went down from Day 1, as opposed to coming across as dismissive and irritated by it, he very likely would still be employed.

So many missteps by him it's boring to recount.

Posted by Longtime Lurker on Mar. 20, 2012 @ 7:35 pm

think you should be allowed to mount a defense?

Posted by GuestChristine Craft on Mar. 21, 2012 @ 8:30 am

Actually no, you can be sure anything that happens here will apply to rivals of the mayor only.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 20, 2012 @ 7:42 pm

hear hear! Glad to see someone standing up for a private matter between a man and his woman. This is nobody's business but Ross's
Next, men will be arrested for so much as whistling at an attractive woman.

Posted by Greg on Mar. 20, 2012 @ 7:50 pm

A witchhunt against men who physically abuse their wives.

No rational person would argue that he didn't bruise her.* We should send a strong message that abuse is not a private matter, and that your actions do have consequences. Hopefully it will resonate and prevent cases of abuse in the future.

There's no reason this should destroy their marriage. Mirk can do what we all do when we're fired. He can get a new job.

*-yes, there are irrational absurdists on here. But they're grasping at straws--HE PLEADED GUILTY

Posted by Guest on Mar. 20, 2012 @ 10:55 pm

"HE PLEADED GUILTY"

And in ALL CAPS too! Well then he must be "GUILTY." Because we all know that no one would ever plead guilty for any reason unless they were truly guilty.

Ever.

Especially if it's written in ALL CAPS!!!

Irrational absurdists indeed.

Posted by Greg on Mar. 20, 2012 @ 11:38 pm

the only person who thinks Ross was lying when he said that!

Posted by Anonymous on Mar. 21, 2012 @ 5:46 am

Some people think the earth is flat. It's pointless to argue with them.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 21, 2012 @ 9:26 am

You ignored Greg's comment. Greg said there's many reasons why ppl may plead guilty when they would rather not because they don't believe they are.

So are you saying that those who plead guilty only do so because they are and not due to other circumstances? If you are, then read the recent NYT article that pointed out reasons why ppl sometimes plead guilty that have nothing to do with guilt or innocence.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 21, 2012 @ 3:07 pm

extreme duress even if they were innocent, I'll agree.

But with half a dozen lawyers behind you and an investment of over 100K to defend a misdemeanor charge, it seems inconceivable.

Moreover, Ross apologized and stated that he did that freely and sincerely. So is your claim that Ross lied when he said that?

So when did Ross stop lying? Or hasn't that happened yet?

Posted by Greg on Mar. 21, 2012 @ 3:30 pm

"dragging this long and sordid saga into the summer"

I like the alliteration. Very poetic.

Posted by Troll the 14th on Mar. 20, 2012 @ 6:59 pm

I am NOT an apologist for RM. Like most of those of a 'leftward persuasion' who have commented here over the past few weeks, I have never condoned the behavior he was accused of. Violence of any kind, domestic or state sponsored, against any other life form, animate or inanimate, is intolerable.
Granted that as an 'elected public official' RM can and should be held to a higher standard than us mere peons. I would suggest however that the infliction of a bruise on a partner's arm pales in comparison to the violence perpetrated daily in this town on the poor and homeless; the medically indigent and seniors choosing between meds and meals; the unemployed and 'unemployable'; the traumatised vets and the refugees who fled our 'police actions', both military and corporate. These acts of violence are committed hourly both locally, nationally and internationally. We are the prime suspects, offenders and beneficiaries.
San Francisco has been a cesspool of graft and corruption for decades. The collusion between City Hall, the Pac Heights Mob, "Downtown" and the vast majority of 'civic leaders' is repulsive and rivals even Chicago. If the guardians of public/private morality, decency and adherence to the laws regulating a just and sustainable society spent significant time and energy investigating and prosecuting these White (and Black) collar criminals, maybe we wouldn't be in the godawful mess we are in. Don't hold your breath, ain't no fast bucks in Peace and Justice.
On tenterhooks anticipating the typical trite tirades from the tiresome tea party trolls. Don't let me down - bring it on.
GO GIANTS.
AVANTE ALEX.
PIGASUS 4 PRESIDENT.

Posted by Patrick Monk RN on Mar. 20, 2012 @ 7:41 pm

I don't think it's right for an elected official to be removed by another elected official without some sort of trial process, like impeachment. It just doesn't sit right with me. We do not live in a monarchy, we live in a democracy. It would have been a lot better if Mirkarimi had been removed by a recall.

This just gives credence to all the conspiracy theories swirling around. I don't like it.

Posted by Troll II on Mar. 20, 2012 @ 7:55 pm

You still think we live in a democracy? Ha! This shit is right out of some third world banana republic.

Posted by Greg on Mar. 20, 2012 @ 8:24 pm

But I still don't like it. I would have voted to recall Mirkarimi but this just sounds... not quite right.

Posted by Troll II on Mar. 20, 2012 @ 8:52 pm

He should get the boot for something much more directly related to his.

His actions from the very beginning were ridiculous and puts his judgement in question, but he was voted in by the citizens. Greg's crazed and paranoid rantings aside, there was an election and Ross won.

Posted by matlock on Mar. 21, 2012 @ 9:44 am

There was more than a "trail process," there was a court case, and he plead guilty. If Ed Lee gotten caught abusing his wife the Guardian would be proudly standing up for women, and demanding that the Mayor be tied to a pole so they could started piling kindle at his feet.

Besides if there was a "trial process" by the city for Ross's removal, Lee would want to show the Lopez tape, and Ross would simple resign then and there.

However, at least there is constancy in the political class. Everyone thinks the other side should be persecuted for acts that they will ardently defend themselves and their political allies from. Maybe that is why for the past six months the streets have been full of people that think the system is politically bankrupt. No matter how low the reading level becomes in this county, every kindergartener know what hypocrisy looks like.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 21, 2012 @ 6:50 pm

This is what the Guardian said last week;

"Whatever the plea deal, Mirkarimi was clearly involved in a bad conflict with his wife that turned physical. Unless the evidence we've seen so far is completely misleading, it's clear that he left her with a bruise — and that he was at the very least nasty and more likely emotionally abusive to her."

This is spousal abuse. If it was any other elected official in San Francisco, you'd be calling for their resignation.

Really, listen to yourselves. Stop tying yourselves in knots defending this guy. And the fact that Mirkarimi & his wife's lawyers are threatening to sue domestic violence advocates and the neighbors is despicable.

Posted by Peter Moore on Mar. 20, 2012 @ 8:05 pm
Posted by Guest on Mar. 20, 2012 @ 8:50 pm

Who the hell knows how the bruise got there. It could've gotten there a million ways. Maybe it was something that had nothing to do with the argument, but Eliana decided to use it to make a video to use in a future potential custody battle. Maybe it was even self-inflicted for that purpose. Maybe Ross grabbed her arm attempting to restrain her from hitting him. Who the hell knows? Frankly there was no complaint and as far as I'm concerned it should never have gone to trial. The whole process was an ugly and despicable witchunt.

You have the fire chief taking a shotglass and hitting her husband over the head with it. Nobody calls for her resignation.

You have a guy like Julius Turman committing *real* domestic violence, beating his boyfriend senseless. And they put him on the Police Commission!

You have cop who kills someone in cold blood while the guy is laying face down on a BART platform, and he pretty much gets away with it. Cops kill people left and right (not to mention the fact that there's a huge problem with domestic violence among LE). What's their punishment? Nothing. Nada. Zip. Ever.

And the whole friggin city is just a cesspool of patronage and corruption- millions of dollars (OUR money, taxpayers' money) get funnelled into the pockets of private sector cronies, and this has been going on for decades.

And nobody ever seems to get caught. The DA's office doesn't give a damn about any of it.

But a bruise appears on the arm of the wife of a political opponent? Whoa! Now that's grounds for a federal case! And oh what a trial it was! They managed to get a domestic violence prosecutor to act as "judge." How impartial! And for the first time I can remember, a LE official did NOT get his request for a change of venue granted (even though the entire jury pool has already read about the case in the Chronicle).

This whole process stinks so bad that even some of those who hate Mirkarimi are starting to call it a witch hunt. It's such a blatant, naked abuse of power that it's starting to be embarrassing even to them. Any reasonable person looking from the outside in can see that this isn't democracy, and it doesn't remotely resemble justice. This is a political lynching.

Posted by Greg on Mar. 20, 2012 @ 8:51 pm

What part of "admitting guilt" do you not get?

Posted by Anonymous on Mar. 21, 2012 @ 5:48 am

Who the hell knows how the bruise got there. It could've gotten there a million ways. Maybe it was something that had nothing to do with the argument, but Eliana decided to use it to make a video to use in a future potential custody battle. Maybe it was even self-inflicted for that purpose. Maybe Ross grabbed her arm attempting to restrain her from hitting him. Who the hell knows? Frankly there was no complaint and as far as I'm concerned it should never have gone to trial. The whole process was an ugly and despicable witchunt.

You have the fire chief taking a shotglass and hitting her husband over the head with it. Nobody calls for her resignation.

You have a guy like Julius Turman committing *real* domestic violence, beating his boyfriend senseless. And they put him on the Police Commission!

You have cop who kills someone in cold blood while the guy is laying face down on a BART platform, and he pretty much gets away with it. Cops kill people left and right (not to mention the fact that there's a huge problem with domestic violence among LE). What's their punishment? Nothing. Nada. Zip. Ever.

And the whole friggin city is just a cesspool of patronage and corruption- millions of dollars (OUR money, taxpayers' money) get funnelled into the pockets of private sector cronies, and this has been going on for decades.

And nobody ever seems to get caught. The DA's office doesn't give a damn about any of it.

But a bruise appears on the arm of the wife of a political opponent? Whoa! Now that's grounds for a federal case! And oh what a trial it was! They managed to get a domestic violence prosecutor to act as "judge." How impartial! And for the first time I can remember, a LE official did NOT get his request for a change of venue granted (even though the entire jury pool has already read about the case in the Chronicle).

This whole process stinks so bad that even some of those who hate Mirkarimi are starting to call it a witch hunt. It's such a blatant, naked abuse of power that it's starting to be embarrassing even to them. Any reasonable person looking from the outside in can see that this isn't democracy, and it doesn't remotely resemble justice. This is a political lynching.

Posted by Greg on Mar. 20, 2012 @ 8:51 pm

But none of them are consistent with her refusal to cooperate and their efforts to suppress evidence. If any of the hypotheticals that you suggested were true she could have released a statement saying that she was teaching Mirkarimi how to tango and they bumped into each other during one of the moves.

But she didn't.

Posted by Troll on Mar. 20, 2012 @ 9:32 pm

There are many reasons why that may not have worked. Perhaps seeing that they were losing every motion, they decided to cut their losses in the kangaroo court. Perhaps the legal fees were mounting. Perhaps they realized there was no way they could get a fair trial when everyone in the city has heard about the case (from unfriendly media). Perhaps they didn't want to have the testimony of that other woman who had a thing for Ross and wanted to get revenge for dumping her... etc., etc.

I'm sure that Eliana would have said something of the sort if the case had gone to trial, but I think they realized that justice would be next to impossible the way things were going.

Posted by Greg on Mar. 20, 2012 @ 9:57 pm

...then maybe you shouldn't be the Sheriff.

Just sayin'.

Posted by Troll on Mar. 20, 2012 @ 10:30 pm

Just supposing: They have a heated argument(do couples ever do that?) over her desire to take their two year old back to Venezuela for an extended trip. Mom insists,Dad objects,mom insists some more, argument gets more heated(SHOCK!),kidlet wakes up and walks into room and starts crying because mommy and daddy are arguing. Dad sees boy, Mom doesn't. Dad takes mom by right arm to tell her to keep it down, to restrain her from escalating the argument in front of boy,maybe restrains her to keep her from smacking him in front of the child. Mom pulls away from Dad, pinching and ultimately bruising her bicep, a bruise which has disappeared a few days later at the swearing-in(sleeveless dress,no bruise)
If mom admits she was having a loud argument in the boy's presence..the DA can charge her with at least one of the same misdemeanors originally charged against Mirkarimi..you know the endangering the child nonsense.
The DA would not agree to any document saying he wouldn't so charge.
So it's a railroading, a trap..
There are plenty of reasons for her to refuse to cooperate and they involve the freedom and safety of her life and her child's.

Posted by GuestChristine Craft on Mar. 21, 2012 @ 8:16 am

Let's say that Lee Harvey Oswald was just cleaning his prized rifle one day. Out of the corner of his eye he sees a gunman on the grassy knoll taking aim at the President. He is the only one who sees this. Wishing to save the President's life he takes aim at the gunman. But one of the President's jilted lovers comes up behind him at just the wrong moment and hits him on top of the head, deflecting his shot into the motorcade and killing the President.

As long as we have hypotheticals it is easy to come up with scenarios that absolve anyone. That is what is so great about them.

Posted by Troll on Mar. 21, 2012 @ 8:39 am

There's not an insignificant probability that something like what Christine laid out happened. They were fighting over her going to Venezuala and the marriage was being stressed so what Christine said just may have happened.

Why won't Gascon release the tape to the public or at least the mayor so the public can see what she said. After all, it's that tape that is the basis for Gascon's charges against him and Lee's dismissal of RM.

Since you apparently have all the facts, tell everyone how she got the bruise and what was RM attempting to do when he grabbed her (assuming it was from him grabbing her)? You said Christine's scenario was a basically an impossibility so give us the facts on what really happened.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 21, 2012 @ 3:19 pm

And has apologized for the incident that you claim never happened.

Clue - if Ross admits his guilt, it's time for you to open your eyes,

Posted by Greg on Mar. 21, 2012 @ 3:34 pm