Editorial: Reinstate Sheriff Mirkarimi
Next week, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors is expected to vote on whether to oust suspended Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi. The Ethics Commission found that the sheriff committed official misconduct and the board has final determination on the matter. At least nine supervisors must vote to remove the sheriff from office.
The board should allow Mirkarimi to remain on the job and not remove him from office.
As the world knows by now, Mirkarimi pleaded guilty to misdemeanor false imprisonment following an argument with his wife, during which he grabbed her arm, leaving a bruise. As soon as the criminal court case was concluded, Mayor Ed Lee suspended Mirkarimi – without pay – and the Ethics Commission began hearings into the matter. The commission found, by a 4-1 vote, that Mirkarimi committed official misconduct.
We do not believe that Mayor Ed Lee was politically motivated when he made the original decision to suspend Mirkarimi. However, it has become extremely political since then. For several weeks now, our editorial board has been interviewing candidates for the Board of Supervisors. We asked each candidate it they wanted to weigh in on the matter. The incumbents are under an embargo by the city attorney not to discuss the case, and none of them did. The challengers, however, with only a couple of exceptions, were more than happy to jump in feet first and announce how s/he would vote. One even went so far as to send out a communique to district voters. We find this unfair to the incumbents and underhanded by the challengers, who won't even be voting on removal. The whole matter has become sordid. What Mirkarimi did was inappropriate, and he knows that. Domestic violence is not a "private matter," as he stated early on. But the administrative removal of an elected official is anti-democratic and should only happen in extreme cases. We do not believe that bar has been met in this case.
We met with Mirkarimi and Lopez recently. For an hour, the couple talked about their ordeal, their effort to meet with people, and why Mirkarimi wants to get back to being sheriff. Lopez does not see herself as an abused wife – far from it. We looked her in the eye and saw a strong, independent woman. We believed her when she told us that she does not want to be apart from her husband. "I never expected this could happen in San Francisco," she said.
We didn't, either. Mirkarimi should be reinstated. There are electoral means to remove him from office, either through recall or in three years when his term ends. That's the democratic way to handle this case.
To view the complete list of B.A.R. endorsements, click here: www.ebar.com/downloads/2012_endorsements.pdf.