Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 11 / 15 March 2018

Milk club board axes endorsement re-vote in SF sheriff race

Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi (Courtesy sheriff department)

Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi (Courtesy sheriff department)

In a message to club members late Friday, the co-presidents of the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club announced that a re-vote on having the club endorse San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, set to take place next week, has been axed.

The news came a day after the Bay Area Reporter‘s Political Notebook reported that supporters of the embattled sheriff  had forced through the re-vote at a special meeting the club’s leaders held last week aimed at mending fences after a number of longtime Milk club leaders lashed out against newer members of the group for not backing Mirkarimi this summer.

The longtime progressive political leader reportedly fell short by two votes of the threshold needed to secure the Milk club’s backing at the July endorsement meeting. Mirkarimi is in a tough re-election fight against former chief deputy sheriff Vicki Hennessy, who served as the interim chief when Mirkarimi was suspended during his first year in office as he fought domestic abuse charges stemming from an incident with his wife.

He ended up pleading guilty to a false imprisonment charge, won his job back, and, this spring, secured having his conviction expunged from his record. Nonetheless, he continues to be dogged by the scandal and has faced a series of controversies during his first term.

During the special meeting held last week, an attempt was made to suspend the club’s bylaws and immediately re-vote on endorsing Mirkarimi, as called for by former city ethics commissioner Paul Melbostad. After that motion was rejected, a second motion to suspend the bylaws and schedule the re-vote for the club’s monthly general membership meeting Tuesday, September 15 then passed.

Other Milk club members accused the sheriff’s supporters of flouting the club’s bylaws and Roberts Rules of Order in order to ram through the new endorsement vote for Mirkarimi. They contend that the proper forum for the Mirkarimi supporters to ask for an endorsement re-vote would be at the September general membership meeting, with the actual vote taking place at the club’s meeting in October.

Neither of the club’s current co-presidents, Laura Thomas and Peter Gallotta, responded to requests for comment prior to the B.A.R.‘s press time Wednesday.

In their emailed message this afternoon, the co-presidents wrote that the club’s executive board, “after careful analysis of the bylaws and Robert’s Rules of Order,” had determined by a majority vote that the actions taken to force the endorsement re-vote “were not in compliance with applicable governing rules.”

They also wrote that, even though the club’s bylaws have been suspended in the past, the current rules do not allow for them to be suspended.

“This analysis leaves the club’s Executive Board with only one possible conclusion: we cannot honor the recent vote to suspend the bylaws and proceed with a re-vote in the sheriff’s race without violating our own bylaws,” wrote the co-presidents. “The club’s endorsement process – which was duly noticed and attended by a majority of the club’s eligible voting members, and which followed the procedures set forth in our bylaws – is the expression of the club’s democratic majority and stands, legally and procedurally, as the outcome.”

They concluded by announcing, “We will not be holding a re-vote at the next general membership meeting.”

— Matthew S. Bajko, September 11, 2015 @ 4:25 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

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