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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Ross Mirkarimi Offered Ultimatum: Quit or Be Fired

Posted By on Tue, Mar 20, 2012 at 1:40 PM

Tick, tick, tick...
  • Tick, tick, tick...

Update: Aaron Peskin calls on Ross Mirkarimi to resign. See end.

Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi avoided a trial by jury. Will he now survive a trial by ordeal?

Mayor Ed Lee has offered Mirkarimi an ultimatum -- either resign by 5 p.m. today or face proceedings to be removed from office. Sources within the city told SF Weekly the sheriff was given this deal during Monday's brief sit-down with the mayor. (Loosely, yes, this is a variation of the plotline of High Noon, in which a lawman is given a deadline to clear out of town or face a vicious attack by dangerous men. Who was good and evil was not so ambiguous on screen. It is more so in real life).

The legal and political lines between whether the mayor has the goods to boot Mirkarimi from office or whether Mirkarimi has the strength to withstand it will be blurred -- and not in Mirkarimi's favor. It's hard to imagine Mirkarimi's misdeed -- he has pleaded guilty to false imprisonment following an alleged domestic abuse incident with his wife -- rising to the City Charter's mandate of "wrongful behavior by a

public officer in relation to the duties of his or her office." But it's also hard to imagine many of Mirkarimi's erstwhile political allies putting up much of a fight for him at this point.

Our messages for the sheriff have not yet been returned. But if he's looking for support from progressive stalwarts, he's not going to get it. Former Board President and current county Democratic Party chairman Aaron Peskin refused to comment on Mirkarimi's plight. But he did say that if the sheriff didn't resign by end of business today, Peskin would be putting out a statement on the matter.

It stands to reason that this statement would be a call for Mirkarimi to cut his losses and step aside.

SF Weekly contacted several city progressive movers and shakers. None felt Mirkarimi would be doing anyone any good by sticking around. He's not helping himself, and he's not helping progressives. If Supervisors Eric Mar, John Avalos, and David Campos were politically unambitious or termed out, that'd be one thing. But they're not -- and domestic violence groups are putting up anti-Mirkarimi billboards, in Spanish, in Campos' district.

click to enlarge Time to go?
  • Time to go?
For Mirkarimi to be permanently ejected from office would take the votes of nine of the 11 supervisors, many of whom are his former colleagues. Considering the ramifications of voting to save the politically poisonous sheriff -- in an election year no less -- it's not easy to count on even three supes standing up for Mirkarimi. It's easy, however, to assume that they'd rather this not come up for a vote.

"You thought the progressives bottomed out in November -- but this is a new standard for the bottom right now," said a frustrated longtime progressive organizer. "I hope Ross has the sense he can do something else in his life. Because this thing -- this is over. The only thing he can do is drag other good people down and take the progressive brand and mar it. It's tragic. But he's gonna have to do this for himself and other people and just stop this."

Whether Mirkarimi will step aside remains unknown -- and he has steadfastly claimed he would not do so. If he decides to stay and fight, however, the powerful erstwhile allies who have, privately, been urging him to concede will likely begin doing so publicly.

L'affaire Mirkarimi has only been predictable in that it has, consistently, gotten worse and worse for its hapless namesake. Sadly, it may come to resemble the conclusion of High Noon in the most painful of ways -- when Marshal Will Kane decides to stick around, he discovers the townsfolk he thought were his friends had their own reasons for wanting him to get the hell out.

Of course Kane "won" in the end, which may be more than Mirkarimi could expect. But keeping one's life and family intact may be prize enough -- and the only thing the sheriff can hope for.

Update, 3:55 p.m.: Mirkarimi's attorney Lidia Stiglich has announced the sheriff will not resign. SF Weekly's sources indicate Mirkarimi seems to feel he has support at the board level. 

Update, 5:35 p.m.: As predicted, Peskin has called on Mirkarimi to step down, releasing the following statement:

In January, Ross Mirkarimi took an oath to faithfully discharge the duties of the office of Sheriff of the City and County of San Francisco. Now, his actions and the circumstances which surround him, fulfilling his duties and responsibilities and honoring that oath is no longer possible.
For the residents of San Francisco, his ability to administer, manage and oversee the Sheriff's Department has been compromised and his adherence to duty and the law has been undeniably marred.
The essential virtues of high purpose, intelligence, decency, humility, and honesty have a unique place in government and in our elected officials.
Sadly, those virtues cannot be maintained, the integrity of the criminal justice system cannot be maintained, and the trust of the electorate, domestic violence advocates, employees of the Sheriff's department and our courts, cannot be maintained.
That's why I am calling on Ross Mirkarimi to resign as Sheriff of San Francisco.
San Franciscans want and deserve a functional, wholly functioning City government- one that embodies the values that we all hold dearly -Ross shares those values of restorative justice and redemption, and by stepping aside, he can seek to mend his relationships and family, his publicly stated priorities.

His resignation best serves the people of San Francisco and all others concerned. I urge him to do so.
I wish Ross and his family a healthy, happy and productive life. May their shared affection and love for their child see them through this difficult time, and the public allow them privacy to move towards their new future.

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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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