Bernal Heights Progressives Adopt Resolution Supporting Suspended Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi

This week the progressive Bernal Heights Democratic Club issued a resolution in support of Ross Mirkarimi, the San Francisco Sheriff who was suspended from his post after pleading guilty to one count of false imprisonment stemming from a dispute he had with his wife on New Years Eve. The Huffington Post carries the tale:

In a resolution passed earlier this week, the Bernal Heights Democratic Club has officially come out against Lee’s filing of misconduct charges against Mirkarimi and called on the mayor to reinstate the suspended sheriff to his post.

The resolution passed immediately following an appearance by Mirkarimi at the club’s Tuesday evening meeting.

“A friend of Mirkarimi’s called us up and asked if we would invite Ross to come speak. We extended an invitation for him to come and he accepted,” club president Tom Gallagher told The Huffington Post. “He talked about the whole story and how he was going to keep fighting…He seemed determined although he did break down a couple times. It seemed like a very difficult performance for him. It may have been one of the first times he’s really talked about what happened in a public setting like this.”

Noting San Francisco’s long-standing reputation for tolerance and forgiveness, the club argued in its resolution that, “the alleged misconduct stems from an incident that took place prior to Sheriff Mirkarimi taking office and was not in relation to his duties as Sheriff…Whereas Sheriff Mikarmi and his wife and child have been publicly humiliated and disempowered by a criminal justice system that seemed more intent on getting a conviction then helping a couple that was having marital problems.”

The resolution goes on to state, “the charge of ‘conduct that falls below the standard of decency, good faith and right action impliedly required of all public officers’ is vague on its face and would leave a cloud of fear and suspicion over every elected and appointed official in a City that has a legacy of free speech and action.”

So to review: The progressive Bernal Heights Democratic Club believes that the problem in the Mirkarimi case is the “vague” wording of the misconduct charges, NOT the behavior of an elected law-enforcement official who became a criminal after he admitted guilt in an unfortunate case of domestic violence. It is tempting to call this sort of logic self-parody, but that would be deeply unfair to many of Bernal’s hard-working comedians.

PHOTO: Luke Thomas via Fog City Journal

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57 Responses to Bernal Heights Progressives Adopt Resolution Supporting Suspended Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi

  1. Amanda says:

    I am really skeptical of our local political club. Has anyone ever tried to join it or even get on its mailings? I have been trying for a few months to join because I really believe in local participation in politics. On their website there is no way to contact them, no meetings posted. I finally tracked down an email for Tom (the guy above) and asked him to put me on their list… nothing. Before this I wanted to think the best, that they were just a nice, local group without a lot of organization. But now I am not so sure. What do other people think?

    • Toby says:

      I went to a meeting to get my enrollment form, which I was given with no problems other than a lot of paper-shuffling. You are not allowed to vote on anything the day you join, but you can stay. My impression (based on only 2 meetings) is that the group does not prioritize new membership and that the majority of members have a long tenure with the club. As a member, I have received multiple emails & phone calls prior to each meeting encouraging me to attend.

      • Amanda says:

        I would certainly like to go to the next meeting and oppose this decision. Tom wrote to me and said he’d add me to the list, that was a couple months ago. I would have gladly gone to the meeting and I imagine I would of been pretty shocked. For me this is a reason to participate. Bernal Heights Democratic Club Reform Slate?

      • Todd_Lappin says:

        Reform Slate? Yes please!

  2. Judge Crater says:

    Bernal Heights Progressives: Not in my name!

  3. Pat says:

    Open meetings and public voting please!!!!!

  4. Almostnative says:

    His credibility and image is ruined. Would you trust a man like him who assaulted his wife to become sherriff and be allowed to carry a weapon? I sure wouldn’t.

    Hope he goes away and moves out to Vallejo with that other loser ex-supervisor.

    • You have no actual idea what happened between them. You are buying the one story that the press has feed you and are taking it as gospel without thinking about the possibility that he is being strong armed and set up, I personally have never heard a da apply for and impose a restraining order for anyone not themselves. When the two parties are both saying that they dont want charges filed and that they dont want to be separated and their elected official imposes it on them, isnt that in the big picture a lot scary’er than the fact that a husband and a wife got into a heated argument? If i were them i would feel so betrayed and witch hunted, i would almost be so disillusioned i may not want to stay on and fight. But that is not Mirkarimi’s style. He was an incredibly active supervisor for his old district (my old home of 15 yrs.) He is a detecated elected official who has really cared about his job that i have seen. The people elected him. Let him do his job and let his personal retribution be taken care of if they insist on putting on this charade and putting him through it. I am just saying… Before you jump to judgement… Maybe there are other factors involved that the press has not touched on at all but have nothing to do with a marital spat.

  5. Say what you will about Ross Mirkarimi, but I don’t think he deserves to have bleach sprayed in his face. (Wrong thread?)

  6. Mr. Fruits 'n veggies says:

    lemme guess, “the bitch set me up”…we’ve heard this before. maybe his physicality work work well with miscretants, scare them straight out of crime when he walks the jail and manhandles the prisoners????.

  7. Missionista says:

    Time for him to put his ego aside and realize his political goose is cooked. Hope he realizes that if he just resigns he may keep his pension, if he’s kicked out no pension! Move on Ross!

  8. jennifer k says:

    Hippies.

  9. BernalMappy says:

    I support Eliana Lopez. NIMBYs who are quick to judge people should check out her side of the story: http://m.sfgate.com/sfchron/db_/contentdetail.htm?contentguid=nzCef5bI&full=true

    It’s possible to support Ross and Eliana in this because they are both on the same side.

    I get why you’re against democracy, and Democratic Clubs: you have a blog, and anonymous comments, which are so much easier to dominate.

    • Todd_Lappin says:

      Ah yes, this is all part of the Vast Bernalwood Conspiracy that we’ve all read so much about.

      But more on-topic, sadly, the logic of your argument here is as tortured in as the reasoning behind the Bernal Democratic Club’s endorsement of Mirkarimi.

      For example, the fact that Eliana Lopez continues to support her husband is entirely irrelevant to the question of whether he is fit to serve as sheriff. Her support is a private matter, but he is a public servant, and his criminal conviction is a public fact — and rather unseemly for an elected official who is supposed to serve in a law enforcement capacity.

      Also… NIMBYs? Against democracy? Forgive me, but… what are you talking about? And if you’re complaining about anonymous comments, why are you posting anonymously?

  10. BernalMappy says:

    By the way, Eliana Lopez is “The sheriff’s wife” as the original poster calls her- she has a name, and has an opinion in this matter. Please take some time to inform yourself on it and give her the respect she deserves.

  11. Herr Doktor Professor Deth Vegetable says:

    Excellent! Glad to hear that SOMEONE is finally approaching this with something approaching rationality. I could not agree with the Bernal Heights Democratic Club more.

    Thank You, BHDC.

  12. Tony T says:

    Glad to hear that our neighbors are doing their part to ensure this situation drags on and on and on. It’s great for the city, isn’t it? All the resources, money, time being spent on this? It speaks volumes about the respect that Ross Mirkarimi has for the taxpaying citizens of SF.

    • Herr Doktor Professor Deth Vegetable says:

      Are you joking? NOBODY would like this to be over more than Mrs. Lopez and Mr. Mirkarimi. Someone is definitely dragging this out, but it sure as heck isn’t our Sheriff.

      • Todd_Lappin says:

        Well, sort of. If our Sheriff had a modicum of common sense and/or was motivated by anything other than careerist self-interest, he would have realized that his stature is fatally compromised, and he would have resigned.

      • Herr Doktor Professor Deth Vegetable says:

        I disagree. I understand your point of view, and I do not think that it is crazy or extreme, I just do not share it. I do not believe that his guilty plea to a misdemeanor charge warrants the disenfranchisement of the voters of San Francisco County that elected him as Sheriff. If enough people have a problem with him, fine, vote him out of office in 2015. Or, if you don’t want to wait that long, then fund a recall movement. But trying to bully the poor guy into resigning for a minor episode that took place before he was Sheriff is not reasonable.

      • Todd_Lappin says:

        Ditto, sir. Well said, even if I do not share that PoV. Thank you.

      • R says:

        I’m not sure that physically abusing your wife and then pleading guilty to a resulting charge can be considered “a minor episode”

      • Herr Doktor Professor Deth Vegetable says:

        If that’s what you think happened, then I can understand your confusion.

      • SeanD says:

        I’ll side with due process any day over the mob. Despite what I think (or assume) happened.

      • Herr Doktor Professor Deth Vegetable says:

        Sean: Well said.

      • R says:

        Couldn’t agree more. Due process happened, and he was convicted.

        P.S. I guess we disagree on what constitutes physical abuse. In my world if someone is in a fight and grabs someone forcefully enough to leave a large bruise, then that’s abuse. I guess in your world it’s different.

      • Herr Doktor Professor Deth Vegetable says:

        Well, if you really believe that’s what happened, that’s your prerogative.

      • Todd_Lappin says:

        Okay, I’ll bite. Herr Doktor. If this version of events is not accurate, what then do YOU think happened?

      • Herr Doktor Professor Deth Vegetable says:

        I have no reason to doubt the story of the two people who were actually there: Eliana Lopez and Ross Mirkarimi.

      • R says:

        Hmm. My lost post reappeared. Ed, you can delete the second one..

        From the horse’s mouth: “I reached over from the driver’s seat, still with my seat belt on, to put my hand underneath her arm to try to guide her back into the passenger’s seat so we could just de-escalate this and talk this through.”

        That action, he said, left a bruise on her arm, which he regrets.

        Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2012/04/18/BAJ01O5B2C.DTL#ixzz1scVU05bH

      • Herr Doktor Professor Deth Vegetable says:

        Exactly. I have no reason to doubt that version of events.

      • R says:

        If it was so benign, why did he plead guilty?

      • Herr Doktor Professor Deth Vegetable says:

        Well, he did not plead guilty to domestic violence or assault and battery or anything along those lines. He plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge of “false imprisonment,” meaning, essentially, that he held onto Ms. Lopez’s arm while she was trying to wrench free.

        To be clear, I do NOT think that it is ok to restrain people against their will, even as briefly as this appears to have been. I just don’t consider such a relatively benign misdemeanor to be worthy of disenfranchising the voters of San Francisco. If he had been convicted of felony, I would absolutely not feel the same way. There is a reason that the law and restrictions on people convicted of felonies is harsher than the restrictions on those convicted of misdemeanors. It is because misdemeanors ARE comparatively “benign”, to use your term.

      • SeanD says:

        A potential $100,000 legal bill may have something to do with it.

      • R says:

        So your view of what happened is he was simply ‘holding’ onto his wife’s arm during an argument while she was trying to ‘wrench free’ which resulted in a large bruise.

        But that, in your view, does not constitute physical abuse. Again, I think we agree to disagree.

      • Herr Doktor Professor Deth Vegetable says:

        Exactly the point I have been trying to make all along. You seems to have an interpretation of events that apparently leads you to believe that he is some sort of abusive husband. I, on the other hand, trust the people who were there, as well as the lack of any evidence of a pattern of abuse in the past. The man is guilty of the misdemeanor he plead guilty to, not any larger crime that you are somehow extrapolating.

      • R says:

        Yes. I beleive that if you physically abuse your wife that you are an abusive husband. Doesn’t mean you’ve done it before, doesn’t mean you’ll do it again (although statistics show that you are likely to repeat the behavior).

        But whether he did it before or after is irrelevant. He did it once. And got caught.

      • Herr Doktor Professor Deth Vegetable says:

        …and this is where we differ. You seem to be under the misapprehension that he is guilty of abusing his wife. That is, you seem to believe that the misdemeanor “false imprisonment” equates to the felony “domestic violence”. I, on the other hand, recognize that those two things are separate. They can absolutely both happen at the same time, but in this case, he is guilty of the misdemeanor and not the latter, felony, crime.

        If you believe that that crime means that he should not be Sheriff (as, I assume, you do), then fine; vote against him in 2015. Or start/contribute to a recall campaign sooner. But don’t try to tear the family apart and browbeat him into resigning by suggesting that he is guilty of a crime that he is not.

  13. NWHillDweller says:

    Seems a little early to be endorsing him before the review is complete but I guess that’s what a political organization does.

    Even if he get’s to keep his job won’t the call to recall him be on the horizon? Sounds like it will continue to be a costly endevour…for everyone.

  14. SouthSloper says:

    Are others (maybe the DA?) troubled that this high-ranking law enforcement official admitted guilt to false imprisonment and now seems to be signaling in his PR campaign that he entered the plea disingenuously — out of expedience? I’m not naive, and I’ve seen enough “procedurals” on TV that I’m sure this kind of plea is made all the time, in the course of bargaining, but I’m not comfortable with the suspended sheriff seeming to advertise this to the public. At best bad judgment.

    I don’t often find myself nodding along with the Chronicle’s editors, but their recent piece on his “Sanctimony and Spin” raises a new round of questions around truthful representations.

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2012/04/19/EDH41O57L7.DTL

    Apart from questions of legality, as a San Francisco citizen, I still haven’t gotten past the three guns he had at home, while reportedly advocating gun control and now admitting anger issues.

    And finally, there’s been a lot of outcry on how this case has been politicized before due process could take its course – sounds like a good reason for political clubs, of any stripe, to stay out. Disappointed for Bernal.

  15. Amanda says:

    Toby and anyone else who is reading this. If you want to go to the next meeting and try to figure out what needs to change with the Democratic Club email me at smith.barbara50@gmail.com. I don’t think we will have any shortage of people who think this decision is bad for Bernal, and doesn’t represent the views of our community.

    • Herr Doktor Professor Deth Vegetable says:

      Again, it pretty much represents my views. Thanks, BHDC!

    • Toby says:

      Thanks, Amanda, if I receive info about the next meeting, I will let you know. I joined BHDC so I could become more involved with the candidate endorsement process for local elections. I supported a colleague’s candidacy for school board and felt BHDC provided a valuable forum to hear all the candidates present their positions. But I was shocked by the nature of the debate of the ?15? people voting in the room. In general (ie more broadly than just BHDC) what would it be like if every endorsement included the number of current members in the endorsing organization and the number of members who voted each way on each specific endorsement? Perhaps this transparency would put the endorsements in perspective for the general public, promote civility during debate, allow for a diversity of views to be represented, and provide healthy incentive to increase participation.

  16. Halle says:

    HDPDV, one of the problems I have with this argument “I do not believe that his guilty plea to a misdemeanor charge warrants the disenfranchisement of the voters of San Francisco County that elected him as Sheriff.” is that the voters of SF didn’t get to vote after this behavior occurred. It happened after the election, and before he took office, when he was Sheriff-elect. I think a higher standard of conduct is warrented then. Also, when you say you believe Eliana Lopez, do you believe the Eliana Lopez on the video, or the one who may or may not have penned an op-ed from Venezuela some months later? I do not find that so clear cut.

  17. I am really glad that i finally heard someone out there FINALLY supporting Mr. Mirkarimi. I feel very strongly about this topic and i saw it coming a mile away. It does not surprise me but it does upset me. I wrote a piece on how it is just really obvious how they are trying to force the one true progressive with some real power out of their newly elected post. (if you want to you can read and make your comments here… http://bluepearlgirlsworld.wordpress.com/2012/03/20/our-sheriff-has-been-witch-hunted-by-the-conservatives-that-took-over-sf-city-govt/). It may be too late, but at least i know that this community here in bernalwood is where my kind of people are (i lived for 15 years in Mr. Mirkarimi’s 94117 district and he served us oh so well before moving to bernalwood two years ago. It is just a shame how it looks like the nimbys are trying to corner every aspect of our town’s govt. It really is scary!

  18. And… let me just say as a woman, i DO NOT condone domestic violence in any way and what he did was wrong, but if you want to get knitpicky, do you know the kind of corruption has and has always seemed to have in high ranking and public officials? Does the name Fagen ring any bells? Or our dear fancy hatted Willie Brown for godsake? How long have some of you all lived in SF? It wasnt always so cleanly sensored and there was never this kind of outrage… except for of course Dan White.

  19. Trogdør says:

    I don’t think that it’s really about the Mirkarimi or Lopez. That ship has sailed. At this point it’s about the women who are getting beaten up and see a prominent law enforcement figure appear to get away with slapping a woman around. (Because if you think about it, that’s what the perception is going to be, especially to people who aren’t paying very close attention to all of this.) How is a battered woman supposed to trust the badge when the top elected law enforcement official’s been convicted of false imprisonment (not an uncommon DV plea, by the way)?

    I get it that what this really boils down to, for the Bernal Heights whatever club and many others, is that this is just another round in the long twilight struggle between the city’s progressives and moderates. It’s sad that that the city’s truly disenfranchised are (once again) so clearly left behind; especially when they’re the ones we’re all (as good SF citizens) supposed to be most concerned about.

  20. Dan says:

    There is a legitimate debate about whether or not Mirkarimi should be removed from office. But I think the Bernal Heights Democratic Club should not have waded into this controversy, and Mirkarimi should not be campaigning for his job now through the Bernal Heights Democratic Club.
    The Democratic clubs represent small groups of political insiders scratching each others’ backs, rather than representing local members of the Democratic Party.

  21. Adam K says:

    Oh, Todd–I was so happy checking this blog out for interesting stuff going on in the neighborhood, even if it was just the color of the chert on a particlular day, but watching you dip into politics is a bummer. It’s not that you don’t have a right to express your opinion, as neutrality in the media is just a fiction that needs to be retired and anyway it is your blog, it’s just that I liked Bernalwood more when I wasn’t confronted with the fact that San Francisco, as it gets richer and richer, is getting more and more conservative. Somehow you were pulling off a neighborhood blog that got folks talking and discussing stuff, even having heated debates, while still appearing pretty welcoming to everybody. But with this post’s editorializing (and posts like your recent near-endorsement of your pal KevMo and your related griping about Sup. Campos), you are waving a flag that I don’t want to follow. Frankly, if I’m looking for the perspective of the moderate-conservative youngish techie home-owner, especially when it is focused on how awful the Progressives are in SF, I can turn to the Chron, the Examiner, all of the local tv news broadcasts, SF Weekly, etc… It seems lately that there are plenty of outlets in SF for that perspective and I guess Bernalwood is just one more. Oh well–it must be for a reason. It just bums me out.

    • Todd_Lappin says:

      Adam, very fair point. Thanks for your comment. I do struggle with this question, because politics are very interesting to me personally. But pretty much every time I wade in to the subject I end up regretting it on some level, and precisely for the reasons you cite. Not sure how I want to handle this sort of thing going forward, but thanks for describing the dilemma and its pitfalls so cogently.

      • Adam K says:

        You’re probably a victim of your own success, Todd, for if nobody read Bernalwood you’d be free to say whatever you wanted without hearing it from people like me. But you’ve done a great job and folks use Bernalwood to connect to the neighborhood and each other; it’s much more than a personal blog now. Interesting to think about why that might be. Probably some of it can be credited to the poor job the New Bernal Journal does in performing that function. Although I like the BHNC and share its politics, the NBJ is probably too political and too focused on one perspective to function well as a neighborhood newspaper (and ultimately, it is just not that good–maybe for the same reasons). Noe has a pretty well-functioning neighborhood newspaper, filled with ads from neighborhood businesses and news and gossip about hyper-local goings-on, and I don’t think there’s a neighborhood blog there nearly as good or widely-read as Bernalwood.
        I agree that the politics are interesting. Perhaps lighting the match in the main article (a fairly objective match) and then letting the debate rage in the comments (like what you usually do) is enough? Folks here seem pretty good at taking the lead and running with the debate. I guess the question is whether that’s enough for you to keep you doing what you do (which is overwhelmingly a good thing). Is it the curse of the newspaper editor to not be able to enter the fray?

  22. matt says:

    I think Mr Mirkarimi is getting a raw and political whipping, all things considered. Of course domestic violence is an intolerable offense, but life is grey: grabbing her arm can hardly be equated to punching her or the usual types of violence that that moniker represents. (I’ve wondered if she had grabbed and bruised his arm, if she would’ve been charged -hardly). And, his wife is hardly the cowering type who is afraid to press charges. Her feelings and perspective, are far and away the most important of everyone involved, yet she’s been utterly ignored, and her family has been torn apart. Just who is the victim here -her? She wishes to have her family and life back. Grabbing her arm and leaving a bruise (some people do bruise more easily than others) hardly constitutes grounds for spousal abuse… I’ve seen Gascon, on 3-4 occasions, say things like “this is all by the book, just as it would be done for anyone else, and is not political or an attempt to embarrass Mirkarimi -but believe me, if we wanted to embarrass him, there are many details that we could disclose that could do that…” Statements like that speak volumes for the political whipping that’s on display here. What he’s accused of -given Elia’s perspective especially- is simply not commensurate with what is happening to Mr Mirkarimi. And the bigger crime going on -by far- is what is happening to him, and the wasted time and effort involved. I’d like a chance to say that to our Board of Supes, or any other committee overseeing this. I was unable to attend yesterday’s, forum. I’m told that the next opportunity to weigh in on the matter is slated for May 29 before Ethics Commission.

    If this is inaccurate, please let me / us know.

    • Adam K says:

      The quote from Gascon speaks volumes. Folks aren’t paying enough attention to the way he’s using his office for political purposes. Ok, so he decided to press charges and he obtained a guilty plea to a misdemeanor charge. Why is he still whipping the flames after the criminal case, and his office’s role, is over? He’s out for Mirkarimi’s blood and clearly wants him out as Sheriff, and is using the power of his title as DA to that end.

      Check out his incredibly disturbing interview on KQED: http://blogs.kqed.org/newsfix/2012/04/23/audio-gascon-blasts-mirkarimi/. Gascon admits that Mirkarimi has not violated the terms of his plea deal and that he (Gascon) doesn’t regret the plea deal, but then he talks as if his dismissed charges against Mirkarimi were all proven facts. Gascon says there was “overwhelming evidence” that “pointed to a pattern” and that’s “presumably” why Mirkarimi pled guilty to misdemeanor false imprisonment. Well, if there was such overwhelming evidence of a pattern of physical abuse, why did Gascon make the deal? “Presumably” because the very serious charges were bogus to begin with?

      Gascon then accuses Mirkarimi of lying but when pressed says that he “objects to the way this case is being characterized… I was almost expecting that he was going to say that this was a self-defense case.” So now Gascon’s unrealized expectations of what Mirkarimi might say (or want to say) qualifies as a lie by Mirkarimi? Gascon does also point to evidence of the bruise occurring in the house, not the car, but this evidence was never introduced or proven in court; if you’re not going to press charges on lying and have your evidence tested before a jury, is it proper to be using it to support a claim like lying?

      Moreover, why does it matter to the DA how the defendant characterizes a plea deal after he takes the deal and the case is closed? The DA shouldn’t be such a rabid attack dog; he should respect the rule of law and respect the criminal justice system. If he believes Mirkarimi was lying, or that he was guilty of something greater than what he pled to, he shouldn’t have done the deal and he should have taken his chances in front of a jury. But to still be trawling these waters, and to still be pushing a version of the events that was never proven, is scary in its disregard for the law.

      The problem is that Gascon is a cop, not a prosecutor. It’s well known that a lot of SF cops hate Mirkarimi (supposedly because as supervisor he wanted to get them out of their cars and onto the neighborhood streets more), so it’s no surprise that Gascon hates him and is still going after him. Folks talk about how Mirkarimi can’t perform his duties as Sheriff because of his guilty plea, but a far stronger argument is that Gascon can’t perform his duties as DA with such a disdain for the rule of law and the criminal justice system. Based on this crazy prosecution and Gascon’s inability to let it go, I think we have a lot to fear from this guy.

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