Gascón's challenge to Mirkarimi belies his own official shortcomings

George Gascón, shown here in January when he announced charges against Mirkarimi, is still making demands.
Steven T. Jones

The backlash against Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi's reinstatement by those who oppose him has often been biting and bitter – an indicator that coming together around real solutions to domestic violence, something most supervisors pledged, could still be difficult – but the most hypocritical reaction came yesterday from District Attorney George Gascón.

“Ross is now reinstated as our Sheriff and I accept that. What I will not accept is any compromise of public safety as a result of his reinstatement. Ross Mirkarimi is on probation in this county for a crime of domestic violence. He is, at a minimum, incapable of adequately performing the functions of his office that relate to crimes of domestic violence,” Gascón said in a public statement, calling for Mirkarimi to “wall himself off” from all domestic violence programs and inmates and hire an independent special administrator to oversee them.

Gascón didn't explain why he believes Mirkarimi can't oversee these functions, although that's been a common refrain among Mirkarimi's critics, almost an article of faith that to them needs no explanation. I understand the sentiment, but as a practical matter, it still doesn't make sense to me (I'd welcome comments that could offer insights or explanation). I've also posed that and other questions to both Gascón and his spokesperson, Stephanie Ong Stillman, and I'll include an update when I hear back.

Maybe the issue is a conflict of interest, the belief that Mirkarimi will either be too easy or too hard on domestic violence inmates or programs, which seems to be stretch. But if that's the case, Gascón should get off his high horse. Gascón was the police chief when then-Mayor Gavin Newsom appointed him as DA, and there were many voices in the community who questioned such an unconventional move, one that raised obvious questions about whether Gascón could be objective about cases of police abuse, evidence tampering, or assorted other cases in which he would be called upon to make tough judgments about the SFPD. There were calls for Gascón to wall himself off from such cases, which he refused to do, even though that was arguably a more serious and direct conflict of interest than Mirkarimi overseeing the jail.

Also, let's not forget that it was Gascón who started this whole ordeal by deciding to charge Mirkarimi with domestic violence crimes, accept the plea bargain to misdemeanor false imprisonment, and recommend the punishment that the court accepted – which included the highly unusual requirement that Mirkarimi issue a public apology to his neighbor, Ivory Madison, who went to police against the wishes of Mirkarimi's wife. At the time, Mirkarimi was serving as sheriff and overseeing all the department's functions – and he wasn't letting the batterers run free or battering them himself – and Gascón didn't raise this issue of then or make it a condition of Mirkarimi's plea, which he certainly could have.

Finally, there was this sanctimonious statement by Gascón: “As the chief law enforcement official in this City and County, I will stand unapologetically with the victims. I will work tirelessly to be sure both victims and witnesses know this city does not tolerate domestic violence.” Yet the record of his office indicates something that falls far short of tireless efforts to combat domestic violence.

As a San Francisco Public Press investigation revealed last month, San Francisco has by far the lowest rate of domestic violation prosecutions of any Bay Area jurisdiction, a terrible record that has gotten even worse since Gascón took over. Whether judged by the number of domestic violence cases filed per capita (29.5 per 10,000 residents, compared with 58.5 in the region) or the number cases it received that it declined to prosecute (it dropped 6,200 of the 8,600 cases that it received from police), Gascón has no business claiming to show zero tolerance for domestic violence. His prosecution of Mirkarimi was more aberration than rule.

We've been trying to get a comment out of the DA's Office on this issue for weeks, and they still haven't replied (Stillman told me today that “we're still working on it”). Gascón was also asked about his office's poor record on domestic violence recently on KQED's Forum and gave only a deflective non-answer. Perhaps he'd be better off figuring out how his office could so consistently fail the victims of domestic violence rather than worrying so much about the too-few of them that he's managed to send to jail.

We all understand what an emotional and important issue domestic violence is, and even how unsettling it may be to many to have Mirkarimi as sheriff. But the members of the Domestic Violence Consortium and La Casa de las Madres – those who have led the campaign to oust Mirkarimi – aren't the only people who care about this issue.

During the public comment portion of Tuesday's Board of Supervisors meeting, there were many domestic violence victims who expressed more outrage over the failure of these domestic violence groups or the DA's office to support them than they were about Mirkarimi continuing to be the sheriff. The city just spent $1.3 million trying to remove Mirkarimi and another [[CORRECTED FIGURE: $140,000]] paying his interim replacement, Vicky Hennessy – money that could have been better spent directly responding to domestic violence than this fruitless symbolic stand.

But that's over now, just like their efforts to remove Mirkarimi, and we all need to move on instead of trying to re-fight this difficult battle over and over again. People can still disagree with what happened and vent and be angry – and from what we're hearing from City Hall, many of the messages have been quite savage, some even threatening violence. They can even work on a recall campaign or take other political actions.

Yet we all still share a city – a wonderfully diverse city with a wide range of perspectives and opinions – and we're all forced to accept things about it that we don't like. Gascón doesn't get to decide who the sheriff is or how he plays that role any more than Mirkarimi got to tell Gascón how to do his job – despite suffering far more direct impacts.

We each have our roles to play, and we'll all be better off if we do them well and accept that we live in a rainbow city, not a black-and-white world.


Glass houses, Mr. Gascon!

You were licking your lips when Mirkarimi accepted a plea after your axis masters told you that's all that was needed to oust a democratically elected political opponent.

Now you're just a bitter loser and a domestic violence hypocrite and exploiter to boot.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 11, 2012 @ 4:38 pm

1.4 million dollars to pay Vicky Hennessey? I thought the Sheriff only made about $200,000? What's up with that?

Posted by Erika McDonald on Oct. 11, 2012 @ 5:15 pm

I think he meant $140,000 (one account said Mirkirimi will be owed about $115,000 plus there would be the cost of her benefits).

It is important to copy edit blog posts too.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 11, 2012 @ 8:55 pm

Yes, I had that figure wrong, which I've now corrected. Sorry for the error.

Posted by steven on Oct. 12, 2012 @ 9:28 am
Posted by Troll II on Oct. 11, 2012 @ 11:54 pm

There can't be that many chicks that whacked, even in SF.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 12, 2012 @ 2:17 am

loathesome, chitinous, greasy exudations
funny to consider how they don't know
how vile they appear

Posted by lillipublicans on Oct. 12, 2012 @ 4:38 am

Didn't think so. We're all anonymous here. Including ChrisCraft and her myriad manifestations, sock puppets and noms de plume.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 12, 2012 @ 5:16 am

Seriously, your occasional accusations of others' anonymous comments is a bit rich.

Posted by Hortencia on Oct. 12, 2012 @ 5:17 am

"holier than thou" status over people who sign in with "Guest", "Anonymous" or another madeup name.

To my knowledge, the only people here using their real names are SFBG writers, presumably because they are banned from posting anon.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 12, 2012 @ 5:52 am

Anyhow, most of the anti-Mirkarimi haters go under false names, and most of Mirkarimi's defenders go under their real ones.


Posted by lillipublicans on Oct. 12, 2012 @ 6:33 am

So you're accusing others of doing exactly what you are doing!

Posted by Guest on Oct. 12, 2012 @ 7:01 am

Anyhow, most of the anti-Mirkarimi haters go under false names, and most of Mirkarimi's defenders go under their real ones.


Posted by lillipublicans on Oct. 12, 2012 @ 6:33 am

Notice how all these "defenders of women" show their class. Calling a woman who disagrees with them a "crazy skank," and not one of them comes out to say even something along the lines of "hey, that's not right." Once again this illustrates the point that this was never about protecting women.

Incidentally, I know Erika, and she is not Christine Craft or Daniele or anyone else. All these women are separate people who happen to be outraged over all of these political machinations.

Posted by Greg on Oct. 12, 2012 @ 8:22 am

DV activists. I think it was JCCourt who called them "harridans", and another poster here dismissed them as "frumps".

In fact, the level of abuse and insults from the pro-ross camp has been every bit as angry and uncontrolled as, well, Ross.

And ChrisCraft admitted months ago to using other handles here, so that issue is moot too.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 12, 2012 @ 8:41 am

The insults, outright hate and racism directed at Ms. Lopez was/is truly mind-blowing. I guess that's just your way of "protecting" her, no?

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

I do not call people names. This was the work of impostors.

This website should not allow people to use other people's names. Thanks.

Posted by jccourt on Oct. 12, 2012 @ 5:47 pm

Not only did jccourt never do such a thing, but it was probably the *very* *same* *imp* *herself* -- Yes! Troll II! -- who is here posting as "Guest" and claiming to be outraged by the slime she exuded all by her own very lonesome.

You are truly a disgusting creature Troll II.

Posted by lillipublicans on Oct. 12, 2012 @ 7:06 pm

She gave a raving, inane speech at the Mirkarimi hearing this week where she trashed victims of DV while complaining no one takes her claims of being subject to a violent crime seriously. Here's a clue Erika - stop acting like a crazy fucking bitch and then maybe people will take your claims of persecution seriously.

Posted by Troll II on Oct. 12, 2012 @ 12:36 pm

I tried to raise her right -- I really did! -- but Troll II was lonely and unlovable as a child. To be honest, she was a pugnacious little bully who picked fights with the the most vulnerable kids just for fun. She was "the terror of the sandbox." When the other kids saw her coming, they would drop their pails and run off screaming. And poor Esther was left to play by herself. She just never felt good about herself unless she was picking on someone else. Pity her, but otherwise don't waste your time responding to her. She's just looking for the attention she never got when she was a little troll tot. In some ways, she still is.

Just a mother's advice.

Posted by Troll II's Mum on Oct. 12, 2012 @ 2:18 pm

We emerge, fully-formed, from the rich soil of planet Earth.

Posted by Troll II on Oct. 12, 2012 @ 2:32 pm
Posted by lillipublicans on Oct. 12, 2012 @ 7:17 pm

with that comment - how sad.

Posted by Troll II on Oct. 12, 2012 @ 7:26 pm

I hereby challenge you to quote how I "trashed victims of DV." I never did any such thing.
You call me a "crazy fucking bitch."
Clearly you are very concerned about women.

Posted by Erika McDonald on Nov. 28, 2012 @ 7:34 pm

WHY cant the outspoken ant DV movement that led the charges against RM lead the recall? I don’t think the will ...if they did this would diffrentiate WHO the real Domestic Vilolence movement is(which we all respect ) and the ones choosing to be used...the real Anti-Domestic Violence should and would never be used ... Those serving the Political machine will look ridiculous as they make their case going forward because rather than RM being a "wife beater" he will be recognizes as a man who made a mistake that he clearly is sorry for…. If they try to make the case against RM they will TRIVIALIZE the real important issue of Domestic Violence ..baring the truth of what is REALLY behind them a Political machine led by Willie Brown/Ed will show lets see

Posted by thatsthewayitis on Oct. 11, 2012 @ 5:32 pm

@District attorney George Gascon you say: "I have grave concerns about Ross Mirkarimi's ability to manage the Sheriff's Department,"

Well Sir, Sheriff's Mike Hennessy will certainly disagree with you.

It is also reasonable for any intelligent San Franciscans to question your motives?Thanks.

Posted by jccourt on Oct. 11, 2012 @ 6:33 pm

Must aggree with KKKraft on this one.

Mam, the old sheriff is gold-pensioned. He don't care no more. Gascon needs to go back to Cuba, the little brownie.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 11, 2012 @ 9:11 pm

I really can't understand Gascon's reaction. It was only a bruise!

Posted by Guest on Oct. 11, 2012 @ 7:16 pm

wait. was there more than a bruise?

Posted by perplexed on Oct. 11, 2012 @ 7:29 pm

Would you feel different if the bruise was on her face? After all it's only a bruise right?
So if you see your mom, wife, daughter, friend, child with a bruise
You're fine with that, it is after all progressive that a bruise doesnt mean anything.
Why the heck did Ross admit that he committed violence against his wife then?
Didn't his lawyers tell him that a bruise is not a crime?
Why is he going to Domestic Violence counseling (which you can only do if you admit that you are a domestic Violence abuser)?
Well it seems Eliana was right after all, Ross is a powerful man and he singlehandedly set back the time for the progress on domestic violence awareness and accountability.
The progressives should be proud.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 12, 2012 @ 1:42 am

I'll admit to not having little interest in knowing or debating their personal relationship, but based on what I've heard about their argument -- that it was in regard to Eliana's desire to take Theo out of the country for another extended period -- I think it is reaonable to allow that Ross' intent (mistaken though it was) when he grabbed Eliana' arm was to assert his parental rights.

His testimony before the EC was that he was wrongly feeling that he might calm the situation by holding her arm.

Now, the fact that an arm grab can technically be a battery does not make it equivalent to your supposed face-striking scenario. I don't believe the DV community is sensible when they equate it thusly, and I don't think they are reasonable in their assumption that every mistake of this kind leads to serious violence.

I think Ross Mirkarimi is basically a good person, with a long track record as a throughful and dedicated public servant, and he has *always* conducted himself with a high degree of integrity -- unlike most of the pols in office right now, incidentally.

Posted by lillipublicans on Oct. 12, 2012 @ 6:19 am

Do you even believe half of what you say?

Posted by Guest on Oct. 12, 2012 @ 6:56 am

(And my editing errors didn't help, either.)

Ross' arm grab is different from the kind of beating you claim is equivalent.

Ross' action does not indicate an intention to cause an injury.

His sworn explanation for his self-admitted wrongful behavior was that he mistakenly felt he was calming the situation.

His action is in no way comparable to Mason Mayer's two-fisted beating of his girlfriend on her face and body although DA Gascon settled both cases on precisely equivalent terms.

Posted by lillipublicans on Oct. 12, 2012 @ 7:30 am

component of a criminal conviction. Without that, the perp walks.

So it is axiomatic that there was a judgment that ross acted with criminal intent. you may elect to disbelieve that intent was there, but you cannot cfedibly deny that the intent was proven and/or admitted in court.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 12, 2012 @ 7:54 am

Worthless Troll #2 doesn't even make good fertilizer.

Posted by lillipublicans on Oct. 12, 2012 @ 8:11 am

invariably simply categorizes that refutation as a bad argument, and then quickly moves on.

Ross's own lawyers advised Ross that criminal intent could be proven in this case, which is why they told him to cop a plea. But of course Lilli knows better.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 12, 2012 @ 8:18 am

and even you don't believe it. Your statements are fantastic piles of BS and you constantly set new standards for the angle of repose for such manure.

Ross never intended to harm Eliana. He never intended to cause an injury. Whatever you said or will say in response to that is complete non-sequitur BS because you don't want to let the truth to be plainly said, unencumbered by a layer of your crap.

Ross never intended to harm his wife; nothing like what happens in all other (i.e. non-politically motivated) cases of DV prosecution.

Posted by lillipublicans on Oct. 12, 2012 @ 7:13 pm

You're some kind of genius lilli - you just did exactly what he said you'd do - which is dismiss the commenter's argument without refuting it.

Also - why are you still arguing this? Ross is sheriff again, your side won. Yet here you are babbling inanely as if this week never happened.

Posted by Troll II on Oct. 12, 2012 @ 7:30 pm

My point was that the argument was a non-sequitur and incompetent; never that it was wrong.

I'd never even *consider* attempting to argue that Ross didn't intend to turn the van around.

Posted by lillipublicans on Oct. 12, 2012 @ 7:55 pm

but ask yourself why DA offered the plea to a misdemeanor that is not a crime of moral turpitude, includes "no intent to harm" language, and which will allow firearm carry when probation is completed.. now why would that be?

Posted by Guest on Oct. 12, 2012 @ 8:54 am

It was unintentional as in an accident, than blown out of proportion by everyone. Thanks.

Posted by jccourt on Oct. 12, 2012 @ 7:37 am

But then we know you don't care about that, when it is one of your own, politically, who did the bruising.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 12, 2012 @ 7:55 am

@Guest. Many of the courts decisions made no sense.

Example: The court decided that the video was an excited utterance, when in fact it was made 24 hours later. And was staged and directed by the neighbor. Thanks.

Posted by jccourt on Oct. 12, 2012 @ 6:02 pm

Where is the "conscientiousnes" for DA Gascon when investigating Ed Lee's Election and Ballot FRAUD "evidence" that was insufficient was Filmed and Witnessed
“San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón has determined there is insufficient evidence to file criminal charges after a months-long investigation into alleged voter fraud in Chinatown during last year's mayor's race. “ SFGate
"Which part of the video didn't they watch?" Stearns quipped. "I think it just confirms that this is an investigation that shouldn't have been entrusted to District Attorney Gascón in the first place. ... He was on the ballot. He was one of the candidates that these voters were being encouraged to vote illegally for.” SFGate

Posted by thatsthewayitis on Oct. 11, 2012 @ 7:25 pm

Gascon is a hypocrite. Let's face it this whole charade was politically motivated by Ed Lee, Gascon, and Herrera. They wasted tax payer money for their political vendetta. PG&E-Ed Lee and his hack Tony Winnicker think they can intimidate people into submission.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 11, 2012 @ 7:47 pm

Shame on that evil Gascon for thinking that a law enforcement official on probation for three years might have his responsibilities limited in some fashion!

Who the hell does he think he is?

Posted by Demented, Yet Terribly, Terribly Persistent on Oct. 11, 2012 @ 8:07 pm

The DA is responsible for this travesty. This case should never have been prosecuted. Thanks.

Posted by jccourt on Oct. 12, 2012 @ 7:44 am

Complain to Ross if his plea doesn't suit your prejudices and biases.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 12, 2012 @ 7:56 am

People are coerced into pleading guilty.

Oftentimes -- such as in the Mason Mayer case, the plea is accepted due to the coercive fear of being convicted of *far* *more* *serious* serious charges; i.e. FELONIES.

In the case of Ross Mirkarimi, deprived of his job, his paycheck, and the companionship of his wife and child, facing a process put into motion through the actions of his political enemiesand a trial in a courthouse shaded by billboards proclaiming his guilt (paid for by his political enemies), and with a jury pool contaminated by weeks of baseless and vulgar lies in major media arms, he pled guilty, but it was not "freely" -- no matter what words victims of such treatment are neccessarily compelled to utter in our labrynthine and callous "justice" system.

Posted by lillipublicans on Oct. 12, 2012 @ 8:28 am

plead guilty anyway?

Horsecrap. Ross pled out because his lawyers knew the case was a slam dunk once the video was admitted.

If Ross had not pled out, he risked getting multiple counts against him, so he did the right thing. But suggesting that he was badly advised when he had very expensive lawyers looking out for him is ridiculous. The simple fact is that he pled guilty because he was guilty.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 12, 2012 @ 8:43 am