By Luke Thomas
October 1, 2012
Things got a little heated during a public debate last Wednesday prompting appointed District 5 Supervisor Christina Olague to storm off stage, multiple sources have confirmed.
The incident occurred during a District 5 candidate’s forum held at Rasselas Jazz Club and sponsored by Nopa+ and Divisadero Merchants Association following a question posed by an audience member who asked the panelists to indicate how, as supervisor, they would vote on the suspended Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi case.
Mayor Ed Lee suspended Mirkarimi without pay in March following his plea to one misdemeanor count of false imprisonment stemming from a heated argument with his wife, Eliana Lopez, on December 31 during which Mirkarimi grabbed Lopez’s arm and caused a bruise. Mirkarimi previously served as District 5 Supervisor before being elected Sheriff in November. He is a popular progressive in the District for his efforts to stem the tide of violent crimes in the District and across the City.
The Board of Supervisors is set to decide October 9 if Mirkarimi will keep his job or be permanently removed from office. Nine of eleven supervisors must vote in the affirmative to remove a democratically elected official from office. Olague has previously stated she may have to recuse herself from voting on the matter due to an alleged conversation she had with Lee about the Mirkarimi case, an allegation lodged by Building Inspection Commissioner Debra Walker and backed up by a sworn declaration.
Both Lee and Olague deny they discussed the Mirkarimi case, a situation tantamount to jury tampering, Mirkarimi’s legal defense has argued.
“It’s not okay,” said former Redevelopment Commissioner London Breed. “His family has gone through some of the most horrible things I’ve seen anybody go through in this City.”
“I’m not going to comment on that and I don’t think we should be put on the spot to comment on somebody’s personal life,” Breed added.
“It is a very complicated issue because Sheriff Mirkarimi did not handle the accusation well,” added former Sunshine Ordinance Task Force Chair Hope Johnson. “But it is also equally egregious that the mayor can be taking out one of our elected officials.”
“If the voters want to recall the sheriff, they should issue a recall,” Johnson added.
San Francisco Immunization Coalition Director Andrew Resignato called Mirkarimi’s suspension without pay “patently unfair.”
But it was Community Organizer Julian Davis’s comment and question that rankled Olague.
“In the last two years in San Francisco, we have had an appointed Mayor, an appointed District Attorney, an appointed District 5 Supervisor and an appointed Sheriff,” Davis said. “Why are so many accusing you and Mayor Lee of perjury in connection with the Mirkarimi hearings?”
“Why are people accusing you of never having worked a day in your life?” Olague fired back before walking off stage and bringing the debate to an abrupt end.
The public debate was video-recorded by the debate sponsors who appear reluctant to release the video. Audio is available here.