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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Ross Mirkarimi, You Are No Willie Brown

Posted By on Tue, Mar 6, 2012 at 10:59 AM

click to enlarge An enviable place to live, apparently
  • An enviable place to live, apparently

It hardly takes a deft mind to liken the ongoing Ross Mirkarimi domestic violence saga to the telenovelas his wife used to star in. Yet yesterday's testimony from ex-Mirkarimi flame Christina Flores was broad and prurient to an extent that would scare off even a soap opera sponsor. Per Flores, frat boys planning a panty raid could do worse than targeting Chez Mirkarimi. A good deal of her testimony was spent discussing who was leaving whose panties about the residence -- and Mirkarimi's allegedly violent response to such an incident.

Incidentally, SF Weekly had heard a number of panty stories -- but not from a quotable source. And certainly not from someone swearing under oath in front of a judge. It's hard to look past the juxtaposition of sworn testimony and ladies' underwear. But, if you can, the most fascinating dialog had to do with something that, like underwear, is doing its work where you can't see it -- Willie Brown.

In setting up Eliana Lopez, the mother of his child and his future wife, in an apartment "like a baby mama," Flores says Mirkarimi expressed a desire to "be like Willie Brown." 

If you're a politician who doesn't value a stable home life, of course you want to be like Willie Brown. Here's the rub: There's only one Willie Brown.

"Ross is so not Willie Brown," says David Latterman, a USF lecturer and longtime moderate consultant. "Willie Brown is a brilliant, incredibly powerful, well-connected legislator. Whatever Willie Brown is, Ross isn't."

What Willie Brown isn't, however, is the rage-inducing symbol of everything that's wrong with government that spurred the "Progressive Revolution" of 2000. Moderate political consultant Jim Ross notes that even city progressives -- though not the ones who based their careers and campaigns on running against Brown -- find themselves gravitating toward Da Mayor. They may not agree with him on policy -- but Brown is a powerful man despite a closet of skeletons in Brioni suits.

A fate Willie Brown never experienced
  • A fate Willie Brown never experienced
"In his personal life, Willie has pretty much done what he wants to do -- which is unique for a politician," says Ross. "That's why a lot of guys aspire to be like him."

But being Willie Brown is easier said than done. You've got to be not just intelligent, but perhaps the most intelligent politician of your generation. You've got to be crafty. You've got to have more connections than James Burke. And, you've got to have the charisma to parlay this devious mixture -- and significant political setbacks from a decade ago -- into an image as a lovable old rogue.

That doesn't seem to fit with Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi's skill set. He purportedly aspired to be like Willie Brown -- but he couldn't even manage to pull off being like Gavin Newsom.

The sheriff's trial is ongoing. He is, of course, innocent until proven guilty. But if his ex is to believed, he is guilty of choosing poor role models.

"If he wanted to emulate someone," says Latterman, "Ross should have chosen Mike Hennessey," his predecessor. "Hennessey is a well-respected, good sheriff who served for a long time. Ross should have been satisfied being the next Hennessey -- which is what he campaigned on."

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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