GUEST OPINION: The politics of retribution

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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.

Comments

But you forgot to mention that will take time for all that, look this a weird case, because I am surprise that the police really wanted to be involve in an bruise accident, actually I am not because honestly is because Mr. Mirkarimi is public person, I am survivor of DV and I hear so many cases where the woman’s call the police and because it’s not a serious injury, they don't want to be involve in does cases, I got broken one part of my body and even I did citizen arrest, the DA never called me, and one of the police that it was not judge to made the decision, he sent to me his decision, with Mr. Mirkarimi is different, because it was not case of DV but he did not want to waste time that is all.

Posted by Guest on May. 25, 2012 @ 4:15 pm

Extremely well expressed. Two women who make a great deal of common sense in commenting on what the D.V. consortium has wrought in hounding an incident that never should have seen the light of day. The D.V.ers' pursuit of a one-time arm pinch from a heated altercation is a sad exposition. This ad hoc San Francisco D.V. mouthpiece has effectively made a mole into a mountain. Worldwide tens of millions of women need rescue from abuse, and D.V. makes this their cause celebre. It's gruesome to watch how low the bar to bludgeon a political opponent. Not a single D.V. talking face ever was a Mirkarimi supporter. Their guy was Cunnie, and the consortium fell in line with the police mob. Most posts are devoid of additive facts or value, so the lack of real public discourse is disheartening. The pile of innuendo, outright falsehoods, and serious misinformation perpetrated by the establishment powers is truly stunning. This is a decent, hard-working, devoted family man, being smeared because they can. The full force and power of the government brought to bear against one man is awesome, but examine the motives. The unlicensed attorney was coached by the Chronicle and the District Attorney, and she agitated to call the police. Eliana should have, against the false attorney.

Posted by Guest on May. 10, 2012 @ 12:02 pm

Both Eliana and Ross's previous girlfriends have talked about multiple incidents of abuse. A guy doesn't pinch his wife's arm just once and then the rest of the time he is sweetness and light. Ross is a serial abuser.

And everyone who has worked with Ross talks about his anger issues. Why are you being so blind? He is unsuitable to run a city department and so should be fired, like the rest of us would be in the same situation.

Posted by Anonymous on May. 10, 2012 @ 12:44 pm

... yourself out to be here? Rossgate? Christ. You are referencing criminal action on the part of president Nixon which struck at the core principle of fairness and democracy. You either have a screw loose or you are a paid shill. Every damn thing you write is bs.

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 10, 2012 @ 1:20 pm
Posted by Anonymous on May. 10, 2012 @ 1:33 pm

asinine and incompetent. Other examples of such mendacious buffoonery were "Travelgate," "Nannygate," "Pardongate," "Troopergate," "Whitewatergate."

Oh, yes, then there was "Irangate" but that doesn't really fit in, being one of the few cases where "gate" is affixed to a story which has significant import with regard to U.S. democracy. I guess that's an example of the "liberal media" at work.

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 11, 2012 @ 7:04 am
Posted by Guest on May. 11, 2012 @ 7:23 am

liberals blah blah blah, blah liberals blah blah, blah blah liberals blah, blah blah blah liberals. liberals blah blah blah, blah liberals blah blah, blah blah liberals blah, blah blah blah liberals. liberals blah blah blah, blah liberals blah blah, blah blah liberals blah, blah blah blah liberals. liberals blah blah blah, blah liberals blah blah, blah blah liberals blah, blah blah blah liberals.

Posted by marcos on May. 11, 2012 @ 8:08 am
Posted by Guest on May. 11, 2012 @ 8:22 am

crooked operation started it. Keerisst there are some simple people in the world and most of them -- according to at least one scientific study -- do indeed hew to reactionary and benighted political leanings.

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 12, 2012 @ 9:47 am

scandal name - it's called journalese.

RossGate is just the latest one.

Posted by Guest on May. 12, 2012 @ 11:38 am

... perceived as scandal isn't "journalese" -- it is bullshit.

Bullshit.

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 12, 2012 @ 11:59 am

Anything else you'd like to censor?

Posted by Guest on May. 12, 2012 @ 12:20 pm

-- just like your bullshit response suggesting that I'm trying to censor you. Poor pitiful lying sack of shit.

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

defining repudiation of the unsuitability of liberals for office. That's my opinion - you may differ but see if you can do so in a civil manner, else you're really as abusive as Ross.

Posted by Guest on May. 12, 2012 @ 1:22 pm

"... the betrayed disclosure...."

That's some strange grammar there. How can a disclosure be betrayed?

Posted by Guest on May. 13, 2012 @ 11:21 am

Wow, do I love hypocrites! Hey Bruce and Tim, please ask Krissy and Deb to start a weekly column -- you guys have always need a "funny pages" section, and they've got it down. I especially love the "disrespect" card! So I'm disrespecting Eliana by failing to forgive her wife-beating husband?! I can't wait for the next Republican wife beater -- I'm sure Krissy and Deb will be right there to defend him.

BTW, memo to Krissy: if you want to be taken seriously in life, try "Kris" or "Kristine," Krissy is train wreck of a name.

Posted by m5w on May. 16, 2012 @ 1:18 pm

So let's say Ed Lee's wife showed up one day at a police station with a big bruise on her arm, claiming Ed had given it to her. Overs/unders on how many milliseconds would elapse before the SFBG Politburo would be baying for his head on a platter -- due process be damned?

Posted by Guest on May. 16, 2012 @ 4:23 pm

way DV cases are handled in SF (and RossGate was handled no differently than from any other DV case) are, hmm, let's see, Bruce, Tim, Steven, Krissy Keefer and Debra Walker.

Anyone notice a common factor there? how many of them are rabid right-wingers? Let me check. Oh wait, none.

Posted by Guest on May. 16, 2012 @ 4:29 pm

Dear Debra and Krissy,

Thank you for your well written op ed article. Fighting against a politically motivated campaign of disinformation is never easy.

As Ross was never a member of the Brown-Pak-Lee political power axis, he was always in disfavor from the powers that run this city - powers that are exploiting his personal misfortune to remove him from office.

This is a sad case from every perspective.

Removing an elected official from office on the basis of the facts at hand is just plain wrong. Our city will be less for it.

I will be at the 5pm Ethics Commission Hearing on May 29th to speak out and show my support for Ross.

Sincerely,
David Elliott Lewis

Posted by David Elliott Lewis on May. 24, 2012 @ 3:09 pm

Yes I read about the domestic violence advocates , but this group of people should not even speak about that, because I was there and believe me in this shelter are another abuser(and they are against domestic violence, please!), I wish in contrary of batter with Mr. Mikarimi , they should star investigating them, how they treat people specially Latinas with very low income, (cause the favorites they will do everything) that they don’t speak English, or some African American, I wish they should start calling them, even is confidentiality to ask them how this place were with them, unfortunately so many people does not complaint about them, because ether they are scare or when they find their housing they rather move on, as well this type a shelters are very smart because they know that people sign for the confidentiality of the place and when you intent to complaint about them they have their own system that goes to them, nothing outside, and they tell you, “we are private place” and how about you tell them about their license cause people have to have license, they will get you out with the excuses that they cannot help you anymore that you should see a doctor, when I was hearing about the campaign that they did about Mr. Mikarimi , I got sick of my stomach, because if it was a case where Mr. Mikarimi beat her wife and more, even I don’t like them I will support the campaign, but this is small case that was like accidental, where I don’t see so much violence I could not believe that some place was even calling his wife to offer support, actually I can believe that, because they were only looking attention of the media to putted their self like the best domestic violence place and get more donation of good people that they don’t know what is going on in there. Hopefully Mr. Mikarimi gets back his job and family because he seems like a good person.

Posted by Guest on May. 25, 2012 @ 12:56 am