Overheard in Fog City: Is Mirkarimi Guilty
of Official Misconduct?

Written by Luke Thomas. Posted in News, Politics

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Published on March 14, 2012 with 1 Comment

Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi. File photo by Luke Thomas.

By Luke Thomas

March 14, 2012

Though Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi has admitted guilt to one misdemeanor count of false imprisonment stemming from an alleged domestic violence incident involving his wife on New Year’s Eve, the push to remove him from office is likely to fall flat.

Per the definition of official misconduct under the city charter, “Official misconduct means any wrongful behavior by a public officer in relation to the duties of his or her office, willful in its character, including any failure, refusal or neglect of an officer to perform any duty enjoined on him or her by law, or conduct that falls below the standard of decency, good faith and right action impliedly required of all public officers and including any violation of a specific conflict of interest or governmental ethics law. When any City law provides that a violation of the law constitutes or is deemed official misconduct, the conduct is covered by this definition and may subject the person to discipline and/or removal from office.” (emphasis added).

Because the incident occurred during an alleged argument between Mirkarimi and Lopez at the couple’s home, the “any wrongful behavior by a public officer in relation to the duties of his or her office” test, fails.

Which leaves the second clause, “conduct that falls below the standard of decency, good faith and right action impliedly required of all public officers,” as the only available basis left for consideration, a basis so broad that, as one observer put it, “You can drive a truck through.”

Mayor Ed Lee, who has yet to decide if he will charge Mirkarimi with official misconduct, said Monday his assessment of Mirkarimi’s admission of guilt includes consideration of whether his actions constitute an act against the public.

“Is it something against the public?” Lee said to a flock of reporters. “I mean, that is part of the determination of official misconduct is having done something in that office that would degrade the functioning of that office or the functioning of that position. So, I have to be very careful about this but, you know, amongst the earlier charges, you can kind of separate in the past the issues of domestic violence as well as the function of the office – there kind of was a little separation. In this case, I’m not so sure about that separation.”

Mayor Ed Lee.

Lee said he will make a decision after Mirkarimi is sentenced Monday. Following his sentencing, Mirkarimi is expected to explain in full exactly what happened on New Year’s Eve, a narrative that may go some distance in assuaging the bloodthirsty.

Haaland hasn’t ruled out a run in D5

Gabriel Haaland.

SEIU organizer Gabriel Haaland has not ruled out a possible run for the open District 5 seat in November, Fog City Journal can relay.

Haaland, who ran for D5 supe in 2004 but narrowly lost to Ross Mirkarimi, said Monday he would consider running if appointed D5 Supervisor Christina Olague, considered a progressive, strays from her progressive roots.

The question of whether Olague, a former Green Party registrant turned Democrat, can remain independent following her appointment by Mayor Ed Lee in January, was raised most recently with her pivotal support for a charter amendment proposal, introduced last week by Supervisor Mark Farrell, that aims to repeal Ranked Choice Voting in all San Francisco citywide races.

Asked if he has ruled out a possible run, Haaland told Fog City: “As I said in December and January – I’ve known Christina for 15 years. She’s a good friend. If she remains a progressive… as long as she stays true to who she is, which I think she will… It’s not my intent to threaten her or be the person lurking on the sidelines waiting for her to make a mistake, either. I want to support her, give her a chance to do the right thing because, as you know in San Francisco, there’s a lot of people who lurk on the sidelines waiting for what they perceive to be a mistake and then it’s like, sharks on blood, and there’s a feeding frenzy.”

Haaland said he would support using RCV in a June primary with a runoff decided in November, suggested modifications he said he has discussed with RCV champion Steven Hill and Olague.

“My preference going forward as it relates to Christina is to support her, give her constructive feedback and give her a chance to get her sea legs,” Haaland said. “At the end of the day, my belief is that she is a progressive.”

Luke Thomas

Luke Thomas is a former software developer and computer consultant who proudly hails from London, England. In 2001, Thomas took a yearlong sabbatical to travel and develop a photographic portfolio. Upon his return to the US, Thomas studied photojournalism to pursue a career in journalism. In 2004, Thomas worked for several neighborhood newspapers in San Francisco before accepting a partnership agreement with the SanFranciscoSentinel.com, a news website formerly covering local, state and national politics. In September 2006, Thomas launched FogCityJournal.com. The BBC, CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox News, New York Times, Der Spiegel, San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Magazine, 7x7, San Francisco Examiner, San Francisco Bay Guardian and the San Francisco Weekly, among other publications and news outlets, have published his work. Thomas is a member of the Freelance Unit of the Pacific Media Workers Guild, TNG-CWA Local 39521 and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.

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of Official Misconduct?
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  1. Isn’t Haaland a shark?