Ross Mirkarimi Gets Support Of Bernal Heights Democratic Club, Progressive Organization Decries Sheriff's Suspension
The last few months have been rough on San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi.
After the revelation of an altercation between Mirkarimi and his wife, Venezuelan soap opera star Eliana Lopez, that left Lopez with a bruised arm and Mirkarimi's subsequent guilty plea on a misdemeanor charge of false imprisonment, the former city supervisor has been suspended from his office on the order of Mayor Ed Lee while official charges of misconduct are bring considered by the city's Ethics Commission.
While calls for Mirkarimi's ouster have echoed off every corner of the San Francisco--coming from domestic violence advocacy groups and even a blog post from Huffington Post San Francisco Editor Carly Schwartz--the embattled Sheriff now has the support of a prominent local political organization in his quest to keep his job.
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."
"When the question initially came up of us inviting him to speak, there was some intense opposition--I was actually surprised by the degree of it," said Gallagher. "But, at the actual event, there was only one person who abstained from voting on the resolution, everyone else voted in favor."
During last year's electoral contest, the club endorsed Mirkarimi to replace popular outgoing sheriff Michael Hennessey.
On Wednesday morning, the day following the meeting in Bernal Heights, an emotional Mirkarimi gave his first extended media interview since the scandal broke to KQED's Forum where he explained how his wife got the infamous bruise, the basis behind the false imprisonment charge and the contentious meeting he had with Lee where the mayor demanded his resignation.
Another public figure sympathetic to Mirkarimi's situation is former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown. In his weekly "Willy's World" column for the San Francisco Chronicle, Brown wrote that Lee was wrong to suspend the sheriff without pay:
And on the salary point, I agree with Mirkarimi: He should not be suspended without pay. He should continue to get paid unless and until he ultimately is found guilty of misconduct by the Board of Supervisors.
Mirkarimi's case goes goes before the Ethics Commission next week.