San Francisco's Ethics Commission decided Thursday night in a 4-1 vote that Sheriff-in-limbo Ross Mirkarimi engaged in official misconduct when he bruised his wife's arm during a New Year's Eve domestic dispute.
After the marathon meeting, which lasted 11 long hours, the commission was unable to agree on a recommendation on whether to remove the sheriff from office permanently. Ultimately, city supervisors will decide Mirkarimi's fate.
During the hearing, the Ethics Commission deliberated five issues:
Mirkarimi abused his wife -- and this amounted to official misconduct.
Commission Chairman Ben Hur was the only dissenting vote, claiming the City Charter gave the mayor way too much power. Mirkarimi's attorney, David Waggoner, obviously agreed with that statement, saying "when you give a mayor that kind of power, it opens
up a can of worms that ... really is a real threat to democracy."
commissioners argued that Mirkarimi's conduct "clearly falls below any
standard of decency, good faith, and right action," commissioner Paul Renne said.
Although it wasn't clear whether the commission was ready to dismiss Mirkarimi for good, what was clear was that both sides felt they had won.
"I am pleased that the members of the Ethics Commission ... agreed with me," Mayor Lee said in a statement.
That remark was followed by this comment from Mirkarimi's attorney: "What the Commission has done tonight is effectively
completely agree with us ... they've rejected the bulk of the mayor's
case," Waggoner said.
Paula Canny, who has represented Eliana Lopez in the matter, seemed to think that Mirkarimi "just got screwed." Still, Lopez stuck by her husband, reiterating that she was not abused and that like many of Mirkarimi's supporters, she thinks this is nothing more than a "political witch-hunt."
In between all the legalese, there were some humorous moments, in no particular order:
listed the case "accidentally" as "an unnecessarily protracted dog-and-pony show."
relationship dilemmas on the county sheriff when she told the courtroom
that she "feels scared when she goes to the same gym as Ross."
That livened up the three hours of public deliberation, during which time Renne took some very long blinks.