As Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi fights for his political survival amid allegations that he physically abused his wife and his former girlfriend, some of his critics have taken up the tools of social media in an effort to remove him from office.
Two websites have sprung up in recent weeks to urge city voters and elected officials to take action against Mirkarimi, who has been charged with misdemeanor counts of battery, child endangerment, and dissuading a witness for allegedly grabbing and bruising his wife, Eliana Lopez, during an argument on New Year's Eve. Over the weekend, his ex-girlfriend, Christina Flores, also filed a police report asserting that Mirkarimi had abused her in a similar fashion in 2007 or 2008, while they were dating.
The Facebook page Recall Ross Mirkarimi was launched by an anonymous administrator on or shortly before Jan. 14. Meanwhile, a "TOSS ROSS" page has been created on the online petition site change.org.
It is unclear what effect the social-media campaigns against Mirkarimi could have. Mayor Ed Lee, the sole elected official with the power to unilaterally suspend Mirkarimi from his duties as sheriff, has indicated his reluctance to intercede in the ongoing case.
And a recall election cannot legally take place until at least six months after an official has assumed office, said San Francisco Department of Elections Director John Arntz. Since Mirkarimi holds citywide office, petitioners would have to gather on the order of 45,000 valid signatures, or 10 percent of the registered electorate, to force a recall vote.
Just forcing an election, which likely could not take place until the late summer or early fall, would likely require a war chest of between $250,000 and $300,000, once the costs of paying signature-gatherers and running a campaign are taken into account, said political consultant Jim Ross.
"You need a group, or individuals, that have deep pockets to do this," Ross said. "To get this number of signatures, it takes either a lot of money or a big public movement -- something that everyone in San Francisco is just fed up with."
Despite the creation of the Facebook page, Arntz said he has not fielded any inquiries from groups or individuals interested in launching a formal petition to recall Mirkarimi.
The Change.org petition urges Lee to suspend Mirkarimi from office. KTVU reported that Lee would meet with Mirkarimi, likely today, to discuss how he can carry on with his job in the face of a criminal trial set to begin Feb. 24.
inaction on the part of the mayor," Morgan said. "At this moment in
time, I'm ashamed to be a San Franciscan."
The Recall Ross Mirkarimi Facebook page so far has 24 "like"s, and consists mainly of links to news articles about the allegations against the sheriff.
It has featured some spirited discussion among Mirkarimi's critics and defenders. Included in the latter is Tom Taylor, the former environmental caucus chair of the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club and San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee delegate.
Responding to a link posted yesterday on the page about Flores' new allegations against Mirkarimi, Taylor commented, "Whatever, how much did you guys have to pay her?" Taylor could not be reached for comment by SF Weekly.
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