Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi's belated decision to accept a plea deal ends the increasingly lurid trial surrounding his alleged New Year's Eve manhandling of his wife. If Mirkarimi is hoping to keep any further testimony regarding who's been hiding whose panties in his house or affidavits questioning who deserves to eat from oozing into the public sphere, he has succeeded -- for now.
But it's difficult to imagine even San Francisco's ever-forgiving electorate going soft on Mirkarimi, regardless of the fact that domestic violence charges have been dropped and he's only copping to misdemeanor false imprisonment. The candidate who, as pictured here, campaigned as a dead man walking has now become one, politically at least.
Even before Mirkarimi accepted a plea deal today -- a decision somewhat akin to opting to sell, say, a 1997 Ford Escort only after replacing its transmission and rebuilding its engine -- city politicos told SF Weekly the real question isn't if the sheriff could win another term, but if he'll even opt to run.
In the three years remaining in his term, Mirkarimi may well serve exceptionally as sheriff. He may reduce prisoner recidivism and increase prisoner literacy. He could run into a burning building and save an armful of puppies and kittens.
But the taint of allegations of domestic abuse (on film, no less), the cavalcade of related unflattering details and a series of missteps will haunt Mirkarimi.
Compiling a full list of questionable decisions by Team Mirkarimi since the alleged New Year's abuse incident went public in early January might be better suited for Tom Wolfe, but here's a quick compendium:
- Mirkarimi chose to joke about the accusations that he abused his wife at his inauguration;
- Ivory Madison, the neighbor -- and erstwhile Mirkarimi supporter and fundraiser -- who filmed Lopez's tearful allegation of abuse and turned it over to the cops was portrayed as, at worst, a cog in a shadowy political conspiracy and, at best, a busybody;
Considering Mirkarimi's prickly relationship with the police department, it's a good bet some of this material would have been leaked to the press. But Flores' testimony that, after an argument with Mirkarimi over a mislaid set of panties, she was slammed into a wall, would likely have remained an off-the-record, over-drinks story -- which it was
-- rather than front-page headline material.
It hardly seems outlandish to suggest Mirkarimi's political career has been mortally wounded. Fundraising will pose a challenge, to put it mildly. Political operatives will have a field day accusing progressives of hypocrisy in attempting to downplay this incident. And, finally, don't think would-be Mirkarimi opponents aren't ready to essentially cut and paste the news stories of the past three months -- "the most difficult experience of my life
" per Mirkarimi -- alongside the sheriff's eyes-wide-shut mugshot and mail them to every home in the city. It will be brutal and unrelenting and those who'd hope Mirkarimi step aside gracefully may even note that his son will be old enough to read and comprehend those mailers and other ads in three years time. Politics is a nasty game.
Mirkarimi told San Francisco magazine
he will "spend the rest of my life trying to become a better man, husband, and father." There's no reason to think this isn't the God's honest truth.
But he may not be doing it as Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi
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