If the Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi situation is a mess -- and it is -- the question of whether Mayor Ed Lee has the grounds to suspend the sheriff is even muddier. That's because Lee's ability to force Mirkarimi from office is contingent upon the sheriff having committed "official misconduct."
While Mirkarimi is accused of bruising his wife's arm in an argument, endangering their 2-year-old son, and intimidating a witness (his wife), it is a debatable matter if any of this rises to the definition of job-related "misconduct." Also up for debate is what to make of the fact that Mirkarimi was not yet sheriff when the alleged abuse took place on New Year's Eve.
Per section 15.105 of the city charter, Lee is entitled to boot members of government if they do the following:
Official misconduct means any wrongful behavior by aThe nebulous possibilities of "conduct that falls below the standard of decency" would appear to give Lee carte blanche to suspend Mirkarimi. It could even have given former Mayor Gavin Newsom a chance to suspend himself. But it takes more than crossing puritanical boundaries to commit "official misconduct" -- as San Francisco discovered the last time it bounced someone from a city post.
public officer in relation to the duties of his or her office, willful
in its character, including any failure, refusal or neglect of an
officer to perform any duty enjoined on him or her by law, or conduct
that falls below the standard of decency, good faith and right action
impliedly required of all public officers and including any violation of
a specific conflict of interest or governmental ethics law.
The record contained no legal basis for a finding of official misconduct.... [The Court] held that the commissioner could not be charged with such misconduct, since the charges had nothing to do with his official capacity as airports commissioner nor to the performance of his duties as such.The Mirkarimi scenario isn't exactly apples to Mazzola's apples -- but it isn't apples and oranges, either. In order for his suspension of Mirkarimi to pass legal muster, Lee will have to show how the sheriff's alleged actions either related to his "official capacity" as sheriff or his "performance" in his job. As the ruling in the Mazzola case put it, "To warrant the removal of an officer, the misconduct ... must have direct relation to and be connected with the performance of official duties, and amount either to maladministration or to willful and intentional neglect and failure to discharge the duties of the office."
four of the five Ethics Commissioners to move this case to the Board of