Commission narrows Mirkarimi charges to one but recommends removal

Ross Mirkarimi with Eliana Lopez, attorney David Waggoner, and his mother, Nancy Kolman Ventrone (right), after the ruling.
Steven T. Jones

The Ethics Commission today unanimously rejected most of Mayor Ed Lee’s official misconduct charges against suspended Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi – including abuse of power, impeding a police investigation, and dissuading witnesses – but voted 4-1 to recommend the Board of Supervisors find him guilty of official misconduct for grabbing his wife’s arm on Dec. 31 and pleading guilty to the resulting misdemeanor charge of false imprisonment.

The sole dissenting vote, Chair Benedict Hur, said he had “grave concerns” that such as a broad interpretation of what behaviors constitute official misconduct would give mayors a “strong tool” to inappropriately remove their political adversaries (or at least invite charges that they were), as Mirkarimi supporters allege is happening now.

But the rest of the commission adopted a broad interpretation of what city officials and voters intended in 1995 when they overhauled the City Charter and added a new official misconduct clause banning “conduct that falls below the standard of decency, good faith and right action impliedly required of all public officers.”

“I have a lot of concerns about where you draw the line if you don’t relate it to official duties,” Hur said, appealing to his colleagues that, “I think this charter provision was meant to be narrow.”

Commissioner Paul Renne – who in earlier hearings had taken a strong role in excluding prejudicial evidence against Mirkarimi and was thought to be a possible vote in his favor – today led the charge in interpreting misconduct in the broadest possible way, arguing it didn’t even have to be related to his official duties, while the three other votes against Mirkarimi made the case that his conduct and conviction were related to a sheriff’s role overseeing the jail and its domestic violence programs.

“I think the voters would be shocked if we were to say a public official who pleaded guilty to domestic violence has not committed an act of official misconduct,” Renne said.

But Mirkarimi’s attorneys and supporters – who outnumbered those urging his removal (mostly domestic violence advocates) by more than 4-to-1 during the three hours of public testimony taken today – say the shocking thing is for a just-elected official to be unilaterally removed from office by a political adversary for reasons that today’s proceedings showed were tenuous.

“No case has ever been upheld in court to remove an elected official for a low-level misdemeanor,” said Paula Canny, the attorney for Mirkarimi’s wife, Eliana Lopez, who sat next to and supported his husband throughout today’s nine-hour proceedings.

Indeed, the city is wading into uncharted waters and the commission had few court precedents to draw from in making its findings. It’s also possible that the charter provision is unconstitutionally vague, as Mirkarimi’s attorneys have alleged, both here and in court, with an earlier judge opting to wait until after the city’s process plays out before ruling on the question.

But first, it will be up to the Board of Supervisors, where nine votes on the 11-member body are required to remove Mirkarimi. Today’s hearing got complicated at the end – as commissioners wrestled with what it means to essentially throw out the mayor’s charges and adopt their own more narrow accusation, and how to present everything to the board – that it decided to hold one more meeting in early September to adopt a summary and send everything to the board, which will then have 30 days to act.  

“I leave this process concerned that the will of the voters is being undermined,” Mirkarimi told reporters after the hearing. Holding his hand, Lopez said, “I’m shocked to see what happened today, but we are fighters.”


For complete coverage and analysis of what happened today, what it means, and what’s next, read next week’s Bay Guardian.


simultaneusly claiming that they don't exist.

There is zero evidence that a majority don't want Ross gone.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 21, 2012 @ 11:19 am

Please provide who paid for the polls, how the questions were written, how the respondents were chosen, who analyzed these polls, and all of the many places where they were reported. Otherwise I would suspect that you don't know any of that and now you are just tossing around ad hominems because you know you are caught in a lie.

Thanking you in advance for your full disclosure of the information that is available which has given you confidence that this poll exists and is not a slanted pushpoll generated by Mirkarimi opponents.

We await documented facts.

Posted by Bob_in_Portland on Aug. 21, 2012 @ 11:34 am
Posted by Guest on Aug. 22, 2012 @ 8:00 am

I've asked for someone to provide evidence of the authors of the two polls, who financed them, what the questions were, how the respondents were chosen, etc.

The last official poll was the election last November. More voters wanted Mirkarimi for Sheriff than wanted Lee for Mayor.

You and your brethren have offered no verification of these alleged polls. That makes you look dishonest, but you still have a chance to redeem yourself.

Just give us information about these polls you claim to exist. Thanking you in advance for your thorough documentation in a civil response.

Posted by Bob_in_Portland on Aug. 21, 2012 @ 11:45 am

I now live in SF. I have, and always will, consider myself from Lafayette. Your closed mind is preventing you from using the full power of your brain and therefore the ability to consider other possibilities. It's always easy to see only what you want to see.

Posted by Adam Hunter, Lafayette. on Aug. 21, 2012 @ 6:21 pm

will likely be moldering in her marble masoleum when this entire affair is over and the real bill comes due. Will Cissie leave a few mill to cover the inevitable true costs to San Franciscans?
Did Willie Brown suggest to her and other bored mavens of philanthropy how they could apply pressure to the BOS, by commissioning a nasty poll, full of mistatements,run by a Carolina polling company to tell SF what to do?

Posted by Guest on Aug. 22, 2012 @ 7:31 am

The claim has now dropped to 60% for removal -- and that is based on an extremely biased push poll; a poll which we *only* know the particulars of because Greg who comments here was subjected to it and reported accordingly.

All we got from Rachel Gordon from that foul cesspit of the Chronicle is that the poll was "released." Was the poll "released?" Hell no, the poll was not released.

Oh, yes, Rachel also supplied us with the name of the pollster, Public Policy Polling.

Amazing. Simply amazing. So this Democratic "pollster" also offers "automated message or robocall services as a quick and inexpensive way to deliver a targeted message or to motivate people into action."

Go figure.

Just like the last mystery "poll" -- secretive, completely skewed in nature, and produced by a pollster which does double duty as a propagandist.

Posted by lillipublicans on Aug. 22, 2012 @ 8:19 am

gone to every one wanting him to stay. You can ignore the don't knows.

61 to 31 say Ross must go, with 9% don't know/don't care.

Amazingly, in D5 which is a Ross stronghold, a majority of residents say Ross must go.

Posted by Anonymous on Aug. 22, 2012 @ 8:27 am

Just like in the last mayoral election which Avalos 'won' 40%-60%.

Yes, this poll was clearly the work of people with an ax to grind against Mirkarimi.

But it is also telling that it is the anti-Mirkarimi side that even dares to measure public opinion. If Mirkarimi had public support a swayed poll might be able to make it seem like it was 50-50, but not 2-1. Presumably voters have some position on this issue and not all of them changed their mind in 15 seconds because the computer reminded them that the Sheriff had plead guilty to a a crime.

But I've been here awhile, Anonymous, and have learned that you have to cut the Progressives some slack. It is like when you play basketball with a small kid and you agree to use only one hand and not shoot anything closer than the foul line.

So, hey, Progressives! Poll says the margin against Mirkarimi is only 2-1. You guys rock!!! Nice going.

Posted by Troll on Aug. 22, 2012 @ 8:49 am

You totally ignore the fact that the M&R article actually has the key question listed:

The poll of 500 registered voters in San Francisco showed that those favoring his removal outnumbered those opposed by a margin of nearly 2 to 1. When asked, “Do you think Sheriff Mirkarimi should be removed from office, or not?” 61 percent said yes, 31 percent said no, and 8 percent weren’t sure.

Yes- a very leading question to be sure.

Posted by D.native on Aug. 22, 2012 @ 9:32 am

Even in Ross's own former district and the most liberal district in in SF, over half of voters polled say Ross must go.

So now we have three polls and they are consistent, showing 66%, 70% and 76% wanting Ross gone. Conclusive.

Posted by Anonymous on Aug. 22, 2012 @ 8:25 am

Her headline may have claimed "nearly two-thirds" support for the mayor, but the number cited is "61%."

Naturally, being a secret push poll conducted by a Democratic propaganda service, *no* details about the push poll questions, margin of error, etc. have been made available.

We *know* that the polling questions were skewed to produce a result against Mirkarimi, because one of our regular commenters here, Greg, reported on it after receiving one of the robocalls.

We *know* that you and your cohort have lost this battle.

Sixty-one percent? I doubt that number is true even in the most pro-Lee district in the city -- if one such exists anymore, that is.

The only marginally legitimate poll was a push poll taken in March before Ross Mirkarimi had a chance to get his side of the story out. It was a push poll conducted while the Chronicle ran daily stories and columns hinting at all sorts of negative and inflammatory "facts" about the sheriff which proved to be false.

That first poll -- the *only* poll which merits being described as such or debated -- excluded from its results anyone who didn't answer yes to the question of whether they were "following" the news stories; a question which certainly would have tended to eliminate a great number of Mirkarimi supporters who would have answered no simply to register their disagreement with the skewed reporting spewing forth from Chronicle.

Posted by lillipublicans on Aug. 22, 2012 @ 8:38 am

that all eleven districts had a majority for Ross going. That's quite a coincidence don't you think? Even D5 wants Ross gone - amazing.

And the mismatch in figures is because you're including the "don't knows" in
with the "keep Ross" numbers. No valid reason to assume that.

Of those who expressed an opinion, twice as many want Ross gone, hence the 66%.

Posted by Anonymous on Aug. 22, 2012 @ 9:11 am

Anonymous, you are a serial *LIAR* on this topic and others. You call it a personal attack if you like; I call it a fitting response to your bunkum accusing *me* of playing games with figures.

You are a *LIAR*

Posted by lillipublicans on Aug. 22, 2012 @ 9:25 am

other polls that have been done, all showing far more voters wanting Ross gone than stay.

You try too hard to discredit these polls because you know they show how the people really feel, which is contrary to the minority of DV apologists who think purely ideologically.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 22, 2012 @ 10:31 pm

might lend it further credibility. Not.

Posted by lillipublicans on Aug. 22, 2012 @ 8:51 am

clearly not happy with all three polls so far, all showing your boy down the pan.

The simple fact is that if that kind of majority want Ross gone, then you could not skew a poll significantly enoigh to reverse those numbers. Even if there was some bias in the wording, it won't change 2-1 to 1-2.

Ross is deader than a doorpost.

Posted by Anonymous on Aug. 22, 2012 @ 9:16 am

These guys are professionals. I know a few pollsters. I know enough to know that if a client wants things skewed a certain way, the pollster can produce results that do it.

Remember how during the last Chris Daly re-election, one poll had Chris at 30%. Then Chris finally did a poll that had him at 60% and claimed he was going to win by 20 points. I figured the truth was somewhere in between, and it was. He won by 10 points.

Problem is, right now we haven't had a real unbiased poll. The Ross-haters have unlimited money, so they're the only ones doing polling. Take it with a big grain of salt.

Posted by Greg on Aug. 22, 2012 @ 9:40 am

and if this poll had showed massive support for Ross, you'd be praising it.

But that's not possible because most people want Ross gone, which you'd know if you talked to anyone outside of extreme left-wing circles, which you clearly do not.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 22, 2012 @ 10:36 pm

A recall against Ross would succeed bigtime. Hope SF learns from this and electing people based on name ID and lots of bullshit rhetoric does not mean electing the best person. The deputies voted to not endorse him because they know he's not qualified. And, under Hennessy's own rules, Ross can not go into the jail for at least a year because he is GUILTY GUILTY GUILTY of a misdemeanor, and that is a big part of the "yob" he and Ellie plea for. Sucks to be Ross, sucks more if you voted for this pig and thought he was actually qualified for anything but being sent back to the east coast city he (and many progs) come from.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 22, 2012 @ 8:37 am

now, even if it were only for chief janitor.

That lack of a credible mandate alone should persuade Ross to spare the city further expense and embarrassment and resign.

I'm sure a job can be found for him somewhere so he can pay off the debts for legal costs that he has lumbered his family with to try and preserve his battered ego.

Posted by Anonymous on Aug. 22, 2012 @ 9:13 am

Here we go... here come the headlines from the corporate press. That didn't take long, did it?

I expected 80% given the questions they asked and how they asked them. The bias in this case wasn't in the choice of pollster. Pollsters are hired guns. They work for anyone, and they ask the questions their clients want asked.

The trolls can spin away, but the fact is that they broke two cardinal rules of polling.
1. You ask the main question FIRST; If you're going to give any talking points, you do that AFTER
2. If you're going to test out talking points, you test out both pro- and against your side

They did everything backwards.
FIRST, they primed you with a ton of anti-Mirkarimi talking points. They presented NO arguments from the other side. They asked certain questions in a way that ONLY allowed you to answer in a way that casts Mirkarimi in a bad light.

And then, ONLY at the end, did they ask the main questions. I'm surprised they only mustered 60% under those conditions. Ross should survive this.

And note to Eric Mar: the Richmond apparently had one of the tightest margins, even under these conditions. That means the real sentiment in the Richmond is probably strongly against a recall.

Also, just a couple side points.
1. They polled on the weekend, which is known to be a terrible time to poll from the perspective of true scietific polling. Mostly older, more conservative people are home at that time, and you're going to get skewed results.
2. They did not "release" the poll. They released selected numbers that they cherry-picked. When PPP does polling for Daily Kos, DK releases the whole poll and lets you examine the internals -the questions asked, the order, the demographics, etc. I can't find that information on PPP's website. This was a private push-poll, and the wealthy funders released what they wanted to release.

Downtown will use this for maximum spin effect, but these are actually pretty good numbers for Ross, considering.

Posted by Greg on Aug. 22, 2012 @ 9:13 am

So you "call" that the poll will be flawed.

Then if, as inevitable, the poll shows a clear majority wanting Ross gone, you cry foul and bias.

While if by some fluke, a majority had wanted Ross to stay, you'd claim the the "people spoke" despite the bias.

So basically, you had an excuse either way. Meaning of course that you called nothing. You just lost. Again.

Posted by Anonymous on Aug. 22, 2012 @ 9:26 am

I question though your statement that pollsters are not biased. Both outfits which committed these secret polls -- which by your report and all other appearances must have been eggregiously more so like push polls that the flawed March poll -- also and with equal weight advertise their promotional abilities on their web sites. Does Gallup advertise public relations or public perception management? Does Field?

I think the outfits that performed these bogus secret polls *are* less credible than legitimate polling outfits.

Posted by lillipublicans on Aug. 22, 2012 @ 9:39 am

I do know about PPP. I will say that PPP *can* be a very good pollster. Nate Silver of did a study on which pollsters came out as the most accurate -PPP came out near the top. Thing is, many outfits have a sort of split personality. They do public polls where they release all the numbers and everything is on the up and up. And then they have a division where, if you have the money, you can commission a poll any way you like and get whatever numbers you want.

You won't see these polls on their website -and you don't see the Mirkarimi poll on theirs. You're not going to see the internals like they usually show you, because they understand the internals of this poll are absolute garbage. Understandably, they're not proud of their push-poll work. You're right, doing this kind of work degrades their reputation. The more of it they do, the more they begin to be thought of as propagandists rather than legitimate pollsters. It's sad and frankly very surprising to see something like this coming out of PPP.

Anyway, I'm not going to trash their whole reputation as a polling outfit over one push-poll, because I know they also do legitimate work.

But at the same time, I know what I heard. And what I heard was one of the worst, most biased polls I've every encountered. It was a classic push-poll, with a predictable and skewed result, and no amount of spin and talking points will change that fact.

Posted by Greg on Aug. 22, 2012 @ 9:59 am

the kind of pro-Ross bias that you would like to see. The questions strike most of us as neutral and fair. That's why you're in the minority here - you just don;t get it at all.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 22, 2012 @ 10:33 pm

Guest you say: " and who clearly committed DV."

The Sheriff's wife Eliana Lopez does not agree with you, nor with the courts.

The way this city has treated her is shameful, the so called Ethic's commission has shown no ethics when they agreed that the infamous video be released in perpetuity on Youtube.

The court discounted her opinion by implying that Mrs Mirkarimi suffers from the battered women syndrome.

The way this city has treated Eliana is much worse than any arm grabbing that resulted in an accidental bruise.

Shall we put all San Franciscans on probation? Thanks.

Posted by jccourt on Aug. 22, 2012 @ 11:45 am

you seeking to deny that essentially means that you are calling Ross a liar.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 22, 2012 @ 10:34 pm

Isn't it interesting that whomever finance a poll get the results that they are paying for. Thanks.

Posted by jccourt on Aug. 22, 2012 @ 11:46 am

Before you finally accept that you picked the wrong guy?

Clue. Do your due diligence on your candidiates before you support them.

Posted by JCCourt/Lilli/ChrisCraft on Aug. 22, 2012 @ 1:28 pm

one of those paying for the Carolina push poll in her efforts to destroy Ross Mirkarimi. She's the directress of public policy for Ed Lee. I thought Ed Lee gave a big "I'm not trying to influence the BOS" press conference the other day. So he has his directress of public policy pay to influence them instead? And these individuals think they are the moral ones???

Posted by Guest on Aug. 22, 2012 @ 1:46 pm

a transcript would be so interesting. Let's have some transparency here!

Posted by Guest on Aug. 22, 2012 @ 3:54 pm

It must be reactions such as this that they/he/she desperately seek.

Poll Troll, you can't possibly be so deluded as to believe that which you pretend to beleive, can you?

Maybe so. It is amusing to consider all your points in the reverse; those attributes which you assign to those opposed to the mayor's witch hunt are the very attributes which you exhibit.

It is *you* who cannot integrate facts about polls in your thinking if such facts conflict with your prejudice. Why have you not even once commented in regards to the SFGate poll? (A poll which I've elsewhere shown *was* *also* a push poll!)

Honestly, it couldn't be more clear that you don't have all your marbles; that being a troll -- which means seeking to disturb others out of malice -- indicates that you have deep-seated and extreme unhappiness with your life -- and a rather bad plan for coping with it.

Go on, blather all you want about how many there are who think exactly as you do; make up a few more identities. Each time you comment along more and more deranged and untenable lines, is actually another occasion to think you piteous.

Anybody with half a brain has had good reason to be suspicious of the poll claims right from the start, and the incredible nature of each succeeding poll story has simpbly made the truth more obvious.

It also explains why Mayor Lee was grasping at thin hopes of getting a conviction of witness dissuasion, etc, against Mirkarimi: it is clear that the San Francisco electorate have little patience for his conniving attempt to overturn an election based on a common marital spat.

Posted by lillipublicans on Aug. 23, 2012 @ 6:10 am

they all show how little support there is for a wife-beating sheriff in this city.

But of course if the polls had shown that the voters want a wife-abuser as sheriff, then you'd be crowing about how they give Ross a "mandate".

Why are Progressives always this hypocritical?

Posted by Guest on Aug. 23, 2012 @ 8:08 am

who claims, without the slightest sense of proportionality..that RAPE IS RAPE..ok Andrea..we've got it....then with nary a pause, DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IS DOMESTIC VIOLENCE. To Andrea,a beating or many beatings are exactly the same thing as one arm grab.. Ms. Shorter would tell you the moon is ALWAYS made of green cheese and expect you to believe it, unquestioned.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 23, 2012 @ 7:32 am

Shorter spoke at a Milk Club dinner a few years back, was not impressed.

Posted by marcos on Aug. 23, 2012 @ 9:23 am

NOT in favor of removing Sheriff Mirkarimi from his elected job?

Posted by Guest on Aug. 26, 2012 @ 10:24 am

I suspect that being a woman and a liberal can leave you conflicted when a liberal beats a woman.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 26, 2012 @ 11:15 am