It never inspires much confidence if questions about one's future employment necessitate an answer of "let's wait until my sentencing." Now that Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi has opted to plea to a lesser charge of false imprisonment in his ongoing domestic violence saga, both the Chron and the Examiner today postulate on whether Mayor Ed Lee will force Mirkarimi's hand and suspend him.
Lee, however, is not Donald Trump -- either in temperament or, unfettered ability to dismiss people who have overstayed their welcomes. Mirkarimi would be out the door if he were a private security guard, and would have a very hard time being hired as a sheriff's deputy. But the mayor's removal of a "public officer" is a rare and exacting procedure. "Official misconduct" is required -- and one of the benefits of years of law school and on-the-job lawyerin' is being able to define "official misconduct."
It's also in Section 15.105 of the city charter:
Official misconduct means any wrongful behavior by a 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. ... 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.In the end, Lee may not have to dirty his hands politically to still see Mirkarimi out. A recall election could be initiated by June if anti-Mirkarimi forces gather some 45,000 signatures (a costly proposition). Or Lee could simply allow Mirkarimi to limp through the remaining three years of his term, and possibly induce a civil war among city progressives as his detractors and chauvinistic partisans duke it out.