GUEST OPINION: The politics of retribution


By Debra Walker and Krissy Keefer

We have been shocked and saddened by the perpetual attack on Ross Mikarimi and his family.

To Ross’s credit, he took responsibility in the criminal case he faced, and accepted a plea bargain to a non-domestic-violence misdemeanor that the district attorney concluded served the interests of justice.

He and his wife, Eliana Lopez, had resolved their dispute before the betrayed disclosure to the police and the media by the trained but unlicensed attorney that began the criminal case. The plea bargain was vetted and all legal ethicists consulted concluded that the plea bargain could not be the basis of any action against Ross for the now infamous term “official misconduct.” Ross was ordered into counseling.

Since the criminal case ended we have watched the mayor, domestic-violence advocates, and the majority of the print media, collectively pass judgment without connection to reality, with devastating consequences to Ross Mirkarimi, his family and the people of San Francisco.

Mayor Ed Lee suspended Ross without a hearing and without pay. In other words, the mayor acted against Ross without due process. City Attorney Dennis Herrera has merely repeated all of the unsubstantiated allegations from a newspaper opinion piece in the form of a pleading -- and actually submitted this as fact, further embarrassing our city.

Barring further intervention by the courts, the Board of Supervisors and the Ethics Commission will now be forced to publicly weigh in on the concluded criminal case that occurred before Ross was in office.

Was the punishment laid out by the courts not enough? Are we going to all sit back and watch as San Francisco engages in a public political assassination of a progressive elected official? At what point does it stop? 

Clearly it hasn’t stopped with Ross. Now the mayor and the city attorney have begun the attack on his campaign manager and well-known City Hall aide Linette Peralta-Hayes. Who is next? It could be any of us, of you.

As close friends of Ross and Eliana, we can attest to the fact that this family has paid dearly for their now very public fight and we all should hope for a healing. It does not bring justice to any women’s issues to have such a public display of retribution and revenge. Blowing this out of proportion like this has been only sets the stage for the continued backlash against women’s real issues.

If there were not a complete attack on women’s rights at this time in our country, this might be easier to stomach. Not one thing about this has advanced the rights of women or the understanding of domestic violence. Instead, the criminal justice system has been manipulated to further a political agenda of removing an elected official from office.

We all make mistakes in life. There have been several recent occasions involving officials actually in office where their behavior was questioned.  One issues involved sexual contact with a subordinate, another involved domestic violence and others involved substance abuse. In not one of these instances has the person been removed office.

To remove Ross from office is political and nothing else.

People are purportedly so outraged on behalf of abused women everywhere. But where is the outrage about the coordinated attack on choice in our country or about the documented inhumanities perpetrated against women throughout the world, even today?  Or equal pay, or adequate healthcare? What about the families losing their homes to greedy banks? Nothing of substance gets done on these issues. Instead, attention is focused away from the important issues to the personal shortcomings of the politicians seeking to address those issues.

From the impeachment efforts against Clinton to the allegations against the Wikileaks activist, there are over-amped attacks aimed to politically destroy the target in the press.  "Due process" and "innocent until proven guilty" are essentially thrown out the pressroom window. 
In the name of domestic violence, the mayor and the city attorney have removed an elected official from office. Domestic violence advocates are being used to further an agenda that is hypocritical and ultimately will undermine and dis-empower us all.

Ross Mikirimi was the only progressive elected in the last election. Ross has always been an ideological feminist. The established power brokers in City Hall did not want Ross to be sheriff. They do not want someone who advocates for diversity. They do not want someone who supports the rights of the people to implement the Compassionate Use Act and maintain cannabis dispensaries. They do not want a sheriff who will stand up to the federal government.  They do not want a sheriff who will stand with the 99 percent.

San Francisco is a great city not because of intolerance but because of tolerance. The strength of the city came about because of respect for diversity and encouragement of diversity. Ross stands for those principles.

Ross made a mistake in his personal relationship. Eliana Lopez, his wife, has clearly forgiven him. Each of us should do the same. To do otherwise is to disrespect Lopez.

Are we going to trust City Hall to be the arbitrators of conduct?  And are we really going to sit by and watch as they systematically throw untrue, unfounded, unsubstantiated accusations at whomever they want? Really?

To use this incident as the basis for this coup is without precedent. City Hall’s actions are without basis in fact and without foundation in law.

We believe that the mayor, among others, is doing what he wants to under the guise of women’s rights. We do not want to be used in that way.

There is something very wrong with what is happening -- and sadly if this public political assassination can happen to Ross and his family, it can and will happen to anyone of us. Ask Linette Peralta Hayes.
Krissy Keefer is artist director, Dance Mission Theater. Debra Walker, an artist, is political development chair of the California Democratic Party Women’s Caucus.


>"But in the real world, polls show 70% want Ross gone, and support the mayor."

I'm on your side but you are wasting your time quoting polls that don't support Progressive thinking. The Progressive term for these inconvenient polls is 'Push polling'. In this case multiple news organizations came up with similar results but they are all detrimental to the Progressive cause, hence they are flawed.

I know, it is illogical but you have to cut them some slack. Look at what they are trying to defend.

Posted by Troll on May. 08, 2012 @ 1:42 pm

The Bay Guardian/Buck Tavern Progressives are dedicated to true progressive politics as the Republican Party is to actual republican government. Which is to say, not.

Posted by Guest on May. 13, 2012 @ 11:18 am

I base my supposition that the sentiment described in this editorial is broadly representative of San Franciscans on my own informal polling of people on the subject. If you were to escape from the noxious emanations of your own anti-Mirkarimi cohort on this issue, perhaps your head would clear enough for you to see it as I do.

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 08, 2012 @ 7:02 am

So basically you talked to your friends who think like you do. I suggest you get out and about more.

If you were to escape from the noxious emanations of your own Mirkarimi-apologist cohort on this issue, perhaps your head would clear enough for you to see it as I do.

Posted by Dnative on May. 08, 2012 @ 7:11 am

I have been a registered voter for many years and I for one don't want City Hall to decide what should happen to a duly elected official. The prosecution is and was political and those who are bashing those who stand with Ross and Eliana are part of a serious problem and not part of the solution. I will not be voting for any of those who have acted against my choice in the voting booth.

Posted by Guest Concerned Resigtered SF Voter on May. 08, 2012 @ 7:21 am

those elected officials whose behavior and ethics do not meet the required standard. This applies up to and including the US President impeachment).

There are rules for removing someone like Ross from office for behavior like his, and those rules are being followed.

The "problem" is in your imagination. The solution has 70% voter support.

Posted by Anonymous on May. 08, 2012 @ 7:58 am

but this article is just reprehensible.
Look, I get it, the SFBG pushes "progressive causes" and backs progressive candidates, but to print an article with such proven inaccuracies is beyond the pale.

Really, legal ethicists decided a matter of law and we are all to adhere to their finds? even the DA? and who hired these ethicists?

and because the prosecution is looking into Peralta-Hayes they are going to come after me too? Here's why I'm 100% certain they won't: it is none of my business and I stayed out of it, apparently unlike Peralta.

and yeah, issues like the women's right to choose and unequal pay and healthcare are just completely ignored here in SF.

Pathetic article, not to mention tiresome

Posted by DanO on May. 08, 2012 @ 7:29 am

political experts, you can be sure that SFBG are scraping the bottom of the barrel in their ever more desparate efforts to bail out Ross from the implications of his own self-destructive behaviors.

This article is appalling, irresponsible and factual flawed.

Posted by Anonymous on May. 08, 2012 @ 8:00 am

I'd prefer that method. then that way the progressives can't claim it's a conspiracy. I will happily sign the petition and ask my friends to sign it. Then when he's gone, the progressive movement will truly be dead. Now that their political pamphlet is corporate owned, don't count on seeing rambling hysterics like this in print.

Posted by Guest on May. 08, 2012 @ 7:40 am

"Then when he's gone, the progressive movement will truly be dead."

Hahaha -- keep dreaming there.

But, for the record, I am a progressive and a feminist, and I don't believe Mirkarimi should get a pass on this one. Nor should he be singled out (and if the cranky little right-wing trolls on this site are any indication of how others think, I can easily believe he is being singled out). He should go through the same process and receive the same treatment as any man in his situation.

Posted by Guest on May. 08, 2012 @ 11:19 am

"cranky right-wing troll"?

How enlightened and tolerant of diversity you are.

Posted by Anonymous on May. 08, 2012 @ 6:07 pm

So, you are in agreement that he should be held accountable.

Also, while there may be one or two "right wing trolls" (just as their seems to be one or two crazy "progressives" who post on here defending even the most egregious behavior, so long as it furthers their agenda), probably 85% of the people in SF are liberal to moderate (and I am one of the liberals, though I have dropped any "progressive" affiliation over the continued abuse of the word by the so-called SF "progressives"). And, the majority of the liberal and moderate people in SF are absolutely appalled about what a supposed peace officer did to his spouse, and further appalled by his actions during and subsequent to being prosecuted for DV. This was not just shaking an individual in a van (not to say that even that one incident would be acceptable). It obviously was a pattern of abuse so that his wife was terrified and confided in a near stranger about the abuse and asked (again she actually asked to have it videotaped) to have it preserved for evidence. But, none of that seems to matter to the "progressives" so long as they can keep one of their own in office.

What I don't get (and I truly don't understand the mentality) is that if the Sheriff had been a right-wing Republican who did the same EXACT thing as Ross and was going through the same exact process with the Ethics Commission, etc, then I guarantee you the SFBG would be the first publication on the band wagon to run that Republican Sheriff right out of town. There would be no lamenting over an "unfair and one-sided" process.

It just galls me that the SFBG can pretend to decry the "politics of retribution" when it is patently obvious (and there is historical precedent in SFBG editorials, articles, etc) that there objection is NOT to the laws, the general application of these laws, the system, the judicial or political process, etc., but rather to the specific TARGET of this action. If this incident involved a politician who did not subscribe to their political dogma rather than Ross, then SFBG and all of Ross's blind supporters would be all to glad to participate in the political retribution.

And, yes, I think the Tea Party and the far right yahoos do the same thing. But, just because I don't support the far right insanity, does not mean I am going to give a pass to the far-left and the "progressives" for their crazy behavior.

Posted by Chris on May. 09, 2012 @ 9:50 am

Well said. It's been said before, but if this were a so-called "establishment" official going through this process, the Guardian would be the first to support this process.

Posted by Guest on May. 13, 2012 @ 11:24 am

Good point. Ross gets to eat. He's testosterone-packed.

Posted by Petra Kelly on May. 08, 2012 @ 8:00 am

I hope the new owners of the SFBG will require higher standards of their guest columnists.

"The San Francisco Bay Guardian and a subsidiary of the San Francisco Newspaper Co., the owner and publisher of The San Francisco Examiner, have entered into exclusive negotiations to purchase all assets related to publishing the venerable weekly. Both sides are optimistic that a final contract will be signed shortly, most likely in May. S.F. Examiner President and Publisher Todd Vogt said there are no plans to change the editorial content or positions of the Guardian..."

Read more at the San Francisco Examiner:

Posted by Guest on May. 08, 2012 @ 10:03 am

Next time, perhaps SFBG should aks some subject matter experts, rather than friends of Ross who are into bad art.

Posted by Anonymous on May. 08, 2012 @ 4:29 pm

No wonder you went under and had to sell.

And as for Eliana, the woman who said that she wasn't some poor Indian woman being abused by the Gringo (yes, she said that) - what an elistist and snobby thing to say. You think this doesn't happen in all social classes?

How about you quit crying to the yellow press and focus on your family?

Posted by Guest on May. 08, 2012 @ 10:23 am

"who said that she wasn't some poor Indian woman being abused by the Gringo (yes, she said that)"

She said nothing of the sort.

Posted by Greg on May. 08, 2012 @ 11:58 am

Oh yes she most certainly did.

Posted by Guest on May. 08, 2012 @ 12:50 pm

...just like Gregory Breslin, who shot and killed Sheila DeToy. Breslin was promoted and continues to collect a his pension.

Mayor Lee, give me my sheriff back!

Posted by Erika McDonald on May. 08, 2012 @ 11:49 am

bruised his wife. It wasn't the first time either, according to what Eliana told Madison.

False imprisonment? Perfect guy to run the jails. Not.

Posted by Anonymous on May. 08, 2012 @ 4:31 pm

Who’s fault is it today?

First, it was Ivory’s fault.

Then, it was Gascon.

Then, it was his defense attorneys.

Then, it was the domestic violence advocates.

Then, it was the billboards.

Then, it was Ed Lee.

Now, it’s Eliana’s fault.

Tomorrow, it could be your fault, ladies of the left.

The Guardian’s endorsement is not worth it.

Start leading and stop following this sociopath.

Posted by Guest - Anonymous on May. 08, 2012 @ 4:56 pm
Posted by Anonymous on May. 08, 2012 @ 5:31 pm

Even that conservative columnist in The Chron says this has been blown out of proportion. A little bruise. Some folks like a little rough stuff.

I agree with Debra (district-shopping for seats on the school board and/or Board of Soup for upward to 10 years now) Walker and Krissy Keefer (Green Party artist extraordinaire) on this one.

And now, for your listening pleasure, heeeeeere's Krissy Keefer and Her Green Drumcore Five in an anti-Pelosi chant:

I wish Krissy had been elected. We'd be out of Afghanistan by now under her leadership.

Posted by Troll the XIV on May. 08, 2012 @ 5:06 pm

defeating Pelosi in her ill-fated and terribly-managed campaign for Congress.

Why anyone would give her the time of day let alone credibility on matters of law astounds me.

But Walker is even worse - a career opportunist who sold her soul for a "safe" district only to lose it against all the odds. That's a special kind of stupid.

So naturally SFBG turns to this pair of bad artists and failed wannabee politico's for the last word on a legal matter. Hell, I might ask my lawyer for dancing lessons - it's no more stupid and desparate.

Posted by Anonymous on May. 08, 2012 @ 5:30 pm

Ahem Anonymous, there's nothing progressive about ad hominem attacks.

Posted by The Ghost of Arthur Evans on May. 08, 2012 @ 5:51 pm

entirely reasonable to critique her qualifications and credibility in that regard.

Ditto for a "writer".

No doubt if SFBG could have gotten an expert on constitutional law, they would have done so. But since they can't, how about some whacky dancer? After all, this is San Francisco, right? The more weird and unqualified you are, the better, somehow.

Posted by Anonymous on May. 08, 2012 @ 6:00 pm

Agreed, he did not take any responsibility. he even said he took the deal because he was running out of money. As for this article, we have one wannabe supervisor and one lunatic who wanted to defeat nancy pelosi for her seat.

Rossy Ross is done. If he survives his ethics trial, he will be recalled. His ego is getting in the way of everything, as it always does. Being an election year, now a bunch of incumbents need to make Ross a campaign issue - side with him and you side with a guy who left a mark on his wife, side against him and you betray the progressive cause. If by some miracle he survives it all, everyone will look at him sideways until his 4 year term is up and he will have sufficiently screwed over every deputy in the dept by lowering the stature of The Sheriff as well as all the positives that the SFSD carries out each day.
The only way Ross will have any sort of public life after this is if he resigns before the trial starts, makes an impassioned plea for forgiveness and tries to get his family life back together.
I feel bad for Theo - that poor kid was born from a few-night stand, now his parents will likely divorce once this circus is over.

Posted by Guest on May. 08, 2012 @ 8:06 pm

We've seen it when they've been caught with hookers, rent boys or even just regular affairs. And also if they commit a crime. So it's Ross's arrogant intransigence that is causing further suffering both to his family and this city.

Ross needs to fully accept his errors, which so far he has only paid lip service to, resign, and accept he screwed up royally. Nothing less will do. He can get another job and use that to pay alimony and child support. He needs to man up.

And Krissy, stick to dancing, please. you just make a fool of yourself with diatribes like this one - at least pick a sympathetic subject.

Posted by Anonymous on May. 09, 2012 @ 6:12 am

"Ross has always been an ideological feminist."

Ah yes, an ideologue...

...but in PRACTICE ("leave my family/personal matter alone")

Posted by Guest on May. 08, 2012 @ 8:13 pm

Here is a video of Ross endorsing Krissy Keefer for Congress:

He says, "Why do we decide to support the lesser of two evils or the evil of two lessers...the level of mediocrity being dished out by the Republicans and Democrats?"

Why settle for mediocrity, when you can have chanting drummer serve for you in Congress?

And thanks, Krissy, for the feel-good payback to Ross in his endorsement in your editorial here!

Posted by Troll the XIV on May. 09, 2012 @ 6:09 am

would not have had to settle for a "dancer" whose grasp of reality seems tenuous at best.

What SFBG really needs is a credible, establishment figure who will stand up for Ross. But of course, there are none. Only the hard left usual suspects think Ross can be saved from himself.

Posted by Anonymous on May. 09, 2012 @ 6:25 am

Oh, yes. It was oh so wrong of Keefer to criticize Pelosi for her role in the slaughter of women and children in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan...

Posted by Erika McDonald on May. 09, 2012 @ 11:54 am

probably be written on one of her tu-tu's.

Posted by Guest on May. 09, 2012 @ 4:14 pm

Mr. Mirkarimi pled guilty. If he did not plead guilty his case would have been thrown out.

Under California law domestic violence victim Eliana Lopez had the right to refuse to testify at court. All of her verbal and written statements to the police could not be admitted as evidence in court because they would be hearsay.

As a result of losing her as a witness, the District Attorney had absolutely no choice but to dismiss Mr. Mirkarimi's case. And as a result, he would be sheriff.

2. In regards to any charges against Ms. Lopez for contempt of court, for her refusing to testify: Again, under California law, no court may imprison nor confine victims of a domestic violence crime, here Lopez, in the event those victims refuse to testify concerning that domestic violence crime.

Lopez could have been be subpoened. When she appeared she could have refused to be sworn in. End of story. The DA could do nothing but dismiss. Because there were no witnesses.

3. Abuse against a spouse and a cohabitant is a domestic violence crime. Ms. Lopez is the spouse of Mr. Mirkarimi and is a cohabitant, because she is living with him.

Therefore she could have refused to testify and the case would have been dismissed.

The evidence of bruises etc. are worthless, because she, accordig to the press, as the only witness to Mr. Mirkarimi's alleged beating of her.

In sum: Mr. Mirkarimi understood the law, received the advice of legal counsel and apparently could have had his case dismissed. But he elected to plead guilty.

Because Mr. Mirkarimi is a convicted criminal, Mayor Lee rightfully barred him from the sheriff's office and City Attorney Hererra concurred. At this juncture the Ethics committee will evaluate the evidence and make a decision.

If Mr. Mirkarimi's apologists have any arguments about Mr. Mirkarimi's guilty plea, the best counsel is to direct their commenst to him. And kn the future

Posted by Guest on May. 09, 2012 @ 6:55 pm

Your point is almost correct. You fail to factor in that Ms Lopez is not naturalized. Contempt charges, or any charges no matter how much puffery, can chillingly affect immigration status. The District Attorney did not hesitate to threaten Ms Lopez. On the other hand the D.A. was satisfied with only the video as the star witness, and that's why the D.A. fought tooth and nail. Should justice prevail, the custody video is Eliana's property collected by an attorney and not for disclosure without client permission. No court has yet ruled on attorney-client privilege: The Judge sidestepped the motion and appellate review upheld with no comment.

Posted by Guest on May. 10, 2012 @ 2:06 pm

to be presented as evidence at trial that Ross realized that he had to plead this out. The video was too damning for him, and he could not afford the risk. The very fact that the video was such compelling evidence scared him and he knew that his only hope of getting an acquittal was if vital evidence was suppressed.

Lopez probably isn't that worried about her immigration status any more, since she is back home in Caracas, showing no signs of wanting to return here, and appears to have no interest in being with Ross any more - who could blame her?

Posted by Anonymous on May. 10, 2012 @ 2:20 pm

Eliana promised the court that she would return, and she has given every indication that she wants to be reunited with Ross. No matter, your lies will be exposed when she comes back in June. And we'll be here to remind you.

Posted by Guest on May. 11, 2012 @ 1:17 pm

that court has no jurisdiction where she is hiding out. In fact, they hate us there.

She could be here standing behind her husband like a good politicians wife. Only she isn't.

Posted by Guest on May. 11, 2012 @ 1:24 pm

Ok, I'll be the one laughing in your face when June rolls around. I can hardly wait to rub your nose in it.

Posted by Laurent on May. 11, 2012 @ 1:59 pm
Posted by Guest on May. 11, 2012 @ 2:20 pm

so the real action will take place after July. We all know the three hard lefties on the Board will not vote to take out their pal Mirkarimi - so the action will move to a recall, which he will lose.

Posted by Troll II on May. 11, 2012 @ 2:49 pm

then I can't see them voting to exonerate a wife-abuser when over 70% of SF voters want him gone.

And three votes is not enough to pass a Mayoral veto.

But yes, either which way, Ross is a goner.

Posted by Guest on May. 11, 2012 @ 3:24 pm

The mayor doesn't get a vote on the removal of Mirkarimi - only members of the Board can vote on the removal of a public official. So he'll be relegated to the sidelines unless he chooses to lobby members for a Mirkarimi removal.

Eric Mar is the likeliest to try and save his ass by voting to remove Mirkarimi as he's the one in the most danger come November. But I'm betting the odds are Mar, Campos and Avalos will stick together on this, Mirkin will keep his job until the recall election and then he'll be removed and this whole sordid mess will be over with.

Posted by Troll II on May. 11, 2012 @ 3:46 pm

what I said, dude... Eliana's coming back in June, effectively disproving everything you said about her. Are you really that dense?

Posted by Guest on May. 11, 2012 @ 3:30 pm

Are you psychic?

The fact that she said she would is irrelevant. She will do if there's some money in it and she doesn't think she'll be arrested, but not otherwise. Why should she?

Posted by Guest on May. 11, 2012 @ 3:50 pm

She went to the court for permission to extend her stay, numbskull. Why would she bother if she didn't care? She has said repeatedly that she loves Ross, and there is no reason to disbelieve her. After all, Ross doesn't have a dime to his name right now, yet she has consistently spoken out to defend him There's no money in it for her, and to suggest that that's her motive is insulting and despicable.

Posted by Guest on May. 11, 2012 @ 4:40 pm

She might need to come back to sue for divorce and alimony, although with Ross having no paycheck, will that be worthwhile?

Point is she may choose to come back if there is something in it for her, but she cannot be compelled to return.

Posted by Guest on May. 11, 2012 @ 4:57 pm

How is it the video Eliana's property? It was filmed on Ivory Madison and Abraham Mertens's camera at their house.

Posted by Guest on May. 13, 2012 @ 11:28 am