FLORIDA, May 1, 2012 — San Francisco has always been a place known for its eccentric brand of politicians, but the quizzical is rapidly becoming the reprehensible; at least as far as Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi is concerned.
A former city supervisor who campaigned for the sheriff’s seat during last year’s municipal elections, he has been widely hailed as a rising star within the California Democratic Party’s left wing.
This path to the top, however, was faced with a sudden detour just a few months after Mirkarimi assumed his present office. In March, he pled guilty to misdemeanor false imprisonment, which came after accusations of him physically abusing his wife, Eliana, on New Year’s Eve.
Originally, prosecutors had levied several other charges against him; including misdemeanor domestic violence, child endangerment, and as if these were not horrid enough, dissuading a witness.
This last charge was particularly damaging due to a vigilant neighbor delivering a video to police which contained footage of Eliana crying with a bruised arm.
Of course, the Sheriff has described his being charged with domestic violence as a political attack. He also believes, apparently, that a great deal of the case against him is fabricated. His rendition of the events on New Year’s goes like this: Eliana wanted to bring their toddler son to her native Venezuela for an extended period. When she left the car they were seated in and subsequently tried to take the child out of his car seat, the boy “panicked”.
Mirkarimi then inserted his hand underneath his wife’s arm in order to place her back in her back in her seat.
Whatever the case, following Mirkarimi’s guilty plea, Mayor Ed Lee, himself also recently elected, informed him that he had but two options. The first was to resign within twenty-four hours, and the second entailed facing an ethics hearing. Some might call this a choice between taking the easy route or the hard route, and it is difficult to imagine the easy one being very unpopular.
Nonetheless, Mirkarimi selected the long and rocky road, and will have to face the full ramifications of his choice in an excruciatingly public manner.
Should the ethics commission, an advisory board devised to function as a watchman of sorts for local public officeholders, find the once soaring star guilty, their verdict will be turned over to city supervisors. It is they who hold the ultimate power of permanently decommissioning Mirkarimi from the sheriff’s post. In order for this to take place, however, nine out of eleven supervisors would have to reach a consensus on the matter, and do so in a public fashion.
Messy business, indeed.
Regardless of Mirkarimi’s personal justification for this sorry state of affairs, many of the facts, from the video to the false imprisonment, speak for themselves.
Throughout the campaign season, he branded himself as someone who has “worked at the entrance to (the) criminal justice system and at the exit”. Now facing that entrance from a decidedly different perspective, it would undoubtedly be best for him to pass the torch over to someone who, quite simply, is not. Considering that he ran for office as a stalwart advocate of “efficient….effective public safety”, this should come as a no brainer.
Unless, of course, his platform was rooted in rhetoric rather than reality.
Over the course of the coming weeks, his constituents, as well as a more than slightly larger audience, will discover the answer for themselves. I have a hunch that this is to anything but Mirkarimi’s benefit.
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