Initially favoring recall, Sheriff Mirkarimi now calls it political

AP File PhotoUnder fire: Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi says political insiders are behind a recall effort.

During the tumult of Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi’s official misconduct hearings, he and his attorneys said that a public recall election — not the rarely used removal process employed by Mayor Ed Lee — was the proper way to oust an elected official.

But now that a recall effort appears to be forming, the newly reinstated sheriff has changed his tune.

Much as he framed his suspension in March, Mirkarimi released a ?statement Wednesday calling the ?fledgling recall effort purely political.

“As political consultants try to capitalize on pushing for a recall, we’re reminded that two in particular were both close advisers, confidants and contributors to my opponent who came in third in the sheriff’s race a year ago,” Mirkarimi said.

“Continuing to use an issue that has been settled in court and the Board of Supervisors for a divisive recall will cost city and taxpayers another $3 million on top of the $2 million already spent. I believe that money would be better spent on domestic violence education and services.”

Mirkarimi pleaded guilty in March to misdemeanor false imprisonment, connected to a physical argument with his wife Dec. 31. Just one day after a judge sentenced him to probation and domestic violence prevention classes, Mayor Ed Lee suspended the sheriff without pay as the first step toward removing him permanently from office.

But after receiving only seven of the nine votes needed to oust the sheriff from the Board of Supervisors last month, the mayor’s cause was defeated and Mirkarimi reassumed office, collecting more than $100,000 in back pay.

It wasn’t long before the mayor, District Attorney George Gascón and domestic violence victim advocates began lining up against the sheriff. They demanded that he recuse himself from decisions related to his department’s domestic violence programs or internal personnel issues related to domestic violence convictions.

While Mirkarimi responded that such conflicts can be avoided on a “case-by-case” basis, his critics are seeking a new law to make sure of that, with Gascón suggesting publicly last month that Mirkarimi cannot be trusted.

According to Department of Elections Director John Arntz, a recall would indeed cost The City between $3 million and $3.3 million. Recall advocates would have to file initial paperwork, and then would have 160 days to gather about 50,000 signatures — 10 percent of San Francisco’s total registered electorate. After signatures were submitted and certified, The City would be compelled to hold a special election between 105 and 120 days later. If that time window coincided with an existing election date, the special election could be incorporated.

In the event of a recall, Arntz said he would need to seek additional money approved by the Board of Supervisors.

Andrea Shorter, a spokeswoman for a new committee that is calling for the recall and has denounced the four supervisors who voted to reinstate Mirkarimi, was not available for comment Tuesday or Wednesday. Although it is unclear how much money or support the recall effort currently has, the group’s primary benefactor is tech investor and ?mayoral confidant Ron Conway.

dschreiber@sfexaminer.com

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