New rule: If you have a history of pushing the buttons of law enforcement and someday the public finds out you have been accused of a crime, then you can righteously declare yourself a victim of “forces at work that want to stop [you].”
And your supporters will be far more enraged at the story getting out than at the fact that you have been accused of a crime.
So it is with Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, whose neighbor called the police after allegedly witnessing Mirkarimi’s wife, Eliana Lopez, confess to an incident of abuse. In fact, according to the neighbor, Ivory Madison, Lopez “indicated the alleged incident indicated a larger pattern of abuse.”
Mirkarimi should have been publicly aghast at the allegations, declared domestic violence to be a serious problem that should be investigated and prosecuted to the fullest extent possible, and offered to cooperate fully with the police. Instead, he got a spokesman and blamed his political enemies for leaking the allegations. He denies the abuse, calling whatever happened that night, “a private matter, a family matter.”
It most certainly is not. And shame on Mirkarimi for saying so. Secrecy and designation of the “private sphere” are the enablers of all manner of abuse, whether it be spousal, child or elder. Public safety officials, whose salaries are paid with our taxes, have even less of a right to claim privacy when their neighbors call the cops.
The Sheriff’s Department does not have any civilian oversight. In an interview during his campaign, Mirkarimi pointed this out: “The person who renders discipline is the sheriff himself.” We all have a right to know just what kind of person are we dealing with; what did happen that night if it was not a crime? An effective sheriff must be more than “not a criminal.”
Instead of viewing this as a platform to have a larger discussion about domestic violence or demanding answers, most of his supporters are staying quiet and some seem to be angry that this is in the news at all.
Apparently, the “nosy woman next door” (even though she hosted a fundraiser for Mirkarimi’s campaign) and the “Latina drama queen” (we are constantly reminded that Lopez was a soap opera actress in Venezuela) stereotypes are easy enough to believe. Better to defend the 6-foot-3 politician with a shiny smile shooing us away saying, “Nothing to see here.” That’s right, he’s the real victim.
When asked how he plans to handle violence against prisoners, Mirkarimi once said he planned to “build the consciousness of both sworn and civilian staff to buck that habit where you look the other way. You don’t look the other way. And it’s shameful if there is that excessive use of force.”
We have a right to demand more than antiquated excuses from our sheriff. We must not look away.
Ruff day at the board meeting
After a three-week hiatus, the Board of Supervisors was back in action Tuesday.
One measure it considered was a vote on legislation to regulate professional dog walkers. At issue was the maximum number of dogs that any one person could be allowed to walk at any given time. (Seriously.) Allow me to summarize the 30-minute debate thusly:
Supervisor Scott Wiener: I have spent hundreds of hours meeting with every doggone person in The City, and while some people wanted the number to be six, and others eight, I compromised at seven. Then the Small Business Commission moved it to nine and I moved it down to eight. So that’s the number: eight.
Supervisor John Avalos: I propose we change it to six.
Wiener: You have got to be kidding me.
Avalos: I withdraw my proposal.
Supervisor Jane Kim: I propose we change it to seven.
Wiener: Seven is fine, but eight is the number that the community seems comfortable with. Why do you want to change it?
Kim: I withdraw my proposal.
Supervisor Carmen Chu: I propose we change it to seven.
Chu’s amendment failed, and the board unanimously passed the legislation with the initial limit of eight. I guess dogs aren’t the only animals who like to run in circles, chasing their tails.
Commission seat is popularity contest
‘Your majesty Rose Pak of Chinatown” and “My old friend former Mayor Willie Brown” are captions that accompany photos of Steven Lee posing alongside local politicos. On Facebook, Lee includes those pictures plus photos with Mayor Ed Lee and supervisors John Avalos, Jane Kim and David Chiu in an album called “My famous friends.”
I don’t know what is more disturbing, that he believes these people are “famous” or that he just got appointed to the Entertainment Commission despite the fact that he lives in San Mateo.
To be fair, Lee lived here for 30 years until he moved in 2010, and no one is denying that he has the credentials to be on the commission. But so does Tim Eicher, who is an actual resident and was up for the appointment.
The City Charter requires all commission members to be city residents, but “residency waivers” are sometimes given where there are no qualified San Francisco applicants. In fact, at least five waivers have been granted this year, and in all cases no resident wanted the job.
Only in one other case this year (the marijuana task force) was a nonresident chosen over a resident, and it’s not clear why.
It wasn’t clear in this case either. None of Lee’s supporters could articulate a good reason for choosing him over Eicher. But you know … famous people can be so moody.