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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Ross Mirkarimi: Supervisors Make Votes Work for Them

Posted By on Wed, Oct 10, 2012 at 10:59 AM

You can open your eyes now, Sheriff. It's over.
  • You can open your eyes now, Sheriff. It's over.

Last night, Sheriff-No-Longer-in-Limbo Ross Mirkarimi told the press that "the system worked in this case." In the end, Mirkarimi was reinstated to his elected position -- but it's hard to describe any "system" that involved nine months of lunacy, nine Ethics Commission hearings, several forests' worth of documents, and a final, nine-hour melodrama before the supes as "working."

The manpower costs alone in the city's unsuccessful attempt to oust Mirkarimi are surely staggering (our disclosure request has been sent). Mirkarimi's attorney, David Waggoner, says "the city owes him every dollar of the pay he hasn't received for the last seven months."

But while the system hardly worked, last night several supervisors certainly made it work for them. Our calls around the city haven't been returned, so take our analysis for what it's worth. But the four supervisors who voted to reinstate Mirkarimi may not suffer the anticipated political fallout -- and may even gain.

None more so than Supervisor Christina Olague.

See also: Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi Gets His Job Back

Olague got her job because former District 5 supe Mirkarimi won his race for sheriff. Now she may keep her job by voting to reinstate Mirkarimi to his post. It's no secret that Olague's race for supervisor isn't going according to plan; when the Chronicle calls you out for texting instead of listening and endorses your opponent, some introspection is in order. London Breed is raising buckets of cash and Julian Davis has gotten a lot of mileage out of painting Olague as a puppet of Mayor Ed Lee's puppet-masters.

That narrative becomes more difficult this morning, however. What's more, by bucking the Brown-Pak-Lee triumvirate on Mirkarimi rather than, say, 8 Washington, Olague hasn't cost the powers that be any money, per se. Putting the brakes on a massive waterfront development would have cost wealthy and powerful people some cash. But this only manages to bruise egos and clout. That's not nothing -- but it's less tangible. And, again, it's hard to paint Olague as an unthinking tool of downtown special interests when she so overtly crossed them last night.

Supervisor David Campos will, all but certainly, be a candidate for higher office in the near future. Siding with a man the mayor noticeably called a "batterer" last night might have been a millstone around his neck. But now it sure as hell ain't, considering Campos' side won the day. It's difficult to see how this vote will hurt him down the line.

click to enlarge Ross Mirkarimi's career is back from the dead
  • Ross Mirkarimi's career is back from the dead
Even denizens of City Hall who are politically opposed to Supervisor John Avalos tell SF Weekly they respect his integrity. Whether or not you're surprised that the supes gave Mirkarimi a reprieve, Avalos' vote isn't all that surprising.

Finally, Supervisor Jane Kim befuddled everyone with her legalistic explanation of her vote last night. It didn't appear to please Kim when the city attorney told her that, yes, if Mirkarimi had been caught with a baggie of marijuana, that, too, would have been "official misconduct" and deserving of being barred from office. Unlike her male counterparts, who stressed the egregiousness of Mirkarimi's action, Kim noted that if Mirkarimi had pleaded to a more serious crime, she'd have considered voting him out -- but wouldn't based on the charge he copped to. Kim hasn't returned our calls. But her vote certainly made it harder for her to be politically pigeonholed.

One last note: It was certainly a good move by Mirkarimi's attorneys to insist on Ethics Chair Ben Hur presenting his commission's case to the Board of Supervisors last night instead of attorney Scott Emblidge, who represents both the Board and Ethics Commission.

Emblidge would have, undoubtedly, presented the views of the four Ethics Commissioners who found Mirkarimi committed official misconduct. Hur, meanwhile, also eloquently explained his dissenting view. Hur's take resonated with enough of the supes to apparently make a difference; Campos specifically tied his rationale to Hur's.

No, the system didn't work. But, last night, Team Mirkarimi found a way to work the system. And, today, Ross Mirkarimi goes to work.

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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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