The next-door neighbors of San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi and his wife Eliana Lopez sued the couple for defamation in San Francisco Superior Court late last week.
The suit, filed by Ivory Madison and her husband Abraham Mertens, alleges that, over the course of the domestic violence scandal that nearly cost the sheriff his job last year, Mirkarimi and Lopez falsely claimed that Madison and Martens were part of a "political conspiracy" that involved lying to law enforcement authorities.
Madison has been a central figure in the embattled sheriff's maelstrom since she turned over video showing a distraught Lopez, sporting a bruise on her arm given by Mirkarimi, to police. The video's release set off a chain of events that led to the sheriff pleading guilty to misdemeanor false imprisonment and being suspended without pay while San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee perused his (ultimately unsuccessful) removal from office.
KTVU reports that the suit seeks unspecified damages, a retraction of previous "defamatory" statements and a prohibition on making any new similar statements going forward.
In the months after Madison turned the video over to police, Mirkarimi and Lopez spoke out against their neighbor for contacting the police.
In an op-ed published in the San Francisco Chronicle last year, Mertens wrote that Mirkarimi should resign from his position for waging what he charged was a campaign of harassment:
The last time I spoke to Eliana was when she called me on Jan. 4. I recognized what I thought was Ross' voice in the background as Eliana pressured me to destroy evidence and lie to the police. Then she repeatedly called Ivory, demanding that Ivory destroy the video, e-mail and texts from Eliana about the incident. I'm an attorney, but even if I were not, I would not destroy evidence, obstruct justice or lie to the police, and neither would my wife. Our criminal justice system can work only if most people follow the law and tell the truth to law enforcement.
After we refused to lie, Ross, Eliana and attorneys working for them attacked Ivory's character and motives. This included falsely accusing her of implausible criminal activity, such as being part of a vast political conspiracy to frame Ross, and practicing law without a license. They subpoenaed our confidential business and personal correspondence and the phone records of our friends. Reporters told us that Ross's attorneys were trying to feed them stories almost every day.
Mirkarimi's attorney, Shepard Kopp, dismissed the suit while speaking to the San Francisco Chronicle. "It's sad that these plaintiffs cannot just move on with their lives," he said. "This attention-seeking lawsuit will just drain more resources from the already overburdened Superior Court, which recently was forced to lay off 14 court commissioners. Eventually, it will be dismissed."
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The No Wieners Club
Since the moment sometime in the mid-1960s when San Francisco suddenly became "San Francisco," the city has been synonymous with using the body as a form of personal expression. But when a group of guys started both literally and figuratively hanging out in the Castro's single most visible public space on a near daily basis, many of neighborhood's residents called for a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/20/san-francisco-bans-public-nudity_n_2165847.html">citywide ban on public nudity</a>. The question, both ludicrously inane and deathly serious, ran right to the heart of the city's very identity: where do the rights of the individual nudist end and the public's collective wish not to see old-man testicles begin? Ultimately, the forces of what some labeled "conservatism" won out. Now, if someone wants to go out in public, they better be sure their genitals are covered. (Excepting, of course, situations where it's officially "appropriate" to go sans underwear, like festivals and street fairs. This is still San Francisco, after all.) <em>- Aaron Sankin</em>
Frothing Orange And Black
Oh, San Francisco Giants. Oh, you. While the team's 2012 World Series sweep wasn't <em>quite</em> as exciting as its 2010 first-time-in-56-years win, that didn’t stop this city from descending into screaming, cheering, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/29/san-francisco-riots-giants-world-series_n_2036551.html" target="_hplink">Muni-bus destroying</a>, frothing black-and-orange madness. And in true Giants torture-style, the boys delivered plenty of excitement. First there was the historic NL Division Series, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/11/buster-posey-grand-slam-giants-reds-nlds-game-5_n_1959199.html" target="_hplink">starring a Buster Posey grand slam</a>. Then there was the NL Championship series, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/25/barry-zito-world-series-san-francisco-giants_n_2015529.html" target="_hplink">with an unexpected save by Barry Zito</a>. And finally, adding insult to injury, there was <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/28/giants-world-series-2012-tigers-matt-cain_n_2036443.html" target="_hplink">the World Series</a>: an epic, embarrassing, Motor City soul-crushing sweep. Next came the (seemingly inevitable) street riot that quickly got out of hand, followed by a family-friendly parade, to which Sergio Romo donned a shirt that read "<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/31/sergio-romo-sports-illegal_n_2052086.html" target="_hplink">I just look illegal</a>." As if that wasn't enough, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/15/buster-posey-mvp-2012-nl-giants-san-francisco_n_2140504.html" target="_hplink">Buster Posey won the National League MVP</a> weeks later, cementing a nod from Grantland dubbing San Francisco "<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/20/san-francisco-best-sports-city_n_2339740.html" target="_hplink">the sports city of the year</a>." <em>- Robin Wilkey</em>
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Obama's aggressive crackdown on California's medical marijuana industry continued to slaughter jobs and small businesses across the state. The most notable casualty occurred in April, when federal agents raided Oaksterdam University, Oakland's legendary cannabis training school (and ground zero for the city's pro-pot movement). But there might be hope on the horizon -- with voters legalizing recreational use of the plant in Washington and Colorado, California appears poised to follow suit. And politicians are voicing support. Last week, California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/21/gavin-newsom-marijuana_n_2348096.html">told the New York Times</a> that current anti-marijuana laws "just don't make sense anymore." <em>- Carly Schwartz</em>
A Light Shines On Market
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The Sheriff And His Wife
It's been almost exactly one year since an argument between newly elected San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi and his wife, former Venezuelan telenovela star Eliana Lopez, ended with a bruise on a her arm, a teary cell phone video and, ultimately, a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/11/ross-mirkarimi-vote_n_1958288.html">three-ring circus</a> from which no one emerged without some degree of egg on their face. While Mirkarimi managed to retain his job over the objections of Mayor Ed Lee, thanks to a handful of San Francisco's most forgiving supervisors, the real question remains: who should play billionaire investor/local political power player Ron Conway, who funded all the attack ads? Our money is on Richard Richard Dreyfuss. Or Ted Danson. Or Nicolas Cage. Yeah, Nicolas Cage. <em>- Aaron Sankin</em>
Need A Lyft?
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Sail Away, Sail Away, Sail Away
Love it or hate it, the America's Cup is coming to San Francisco next year, and 2012 was the start of the action with a warm-up race in the bay. With significant backing from Larry Ellison, San Francisco's waterfront was transformed into an America's Cup village fully equipped to handle the biggest yachting race in the world. The excitement was not without a few anxious moments, including <a href="http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/America-s-Cup-prospects-fading-in-S-F-3759001.php" target="_hplink">team dropouts</a>, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/17/americas-cup-capsize_n_1972553.html" target="_hplink">a capsized catamaran</a>, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/25/americas-cup-crash-video_n_1830400.html" target="_hplink">an on-camera crash</a> and a loose boat that was wrangled by a local sailor <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/10/todd-tholke_n_1955871.html" target="_hplink">who later demanded a $200,000 reward</a>. And come December, the America's Cup king was even accused of espionage. (<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/06/larry-ellisons-oracle-racing_n_2252315.html" target="_hplink">No, seriously</a>.) But the spectators came and the race went on, helping to make a few days in October San Francisco's <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/08/san-francisco-fleet-week-_n_1948732.html" target="_hplink">best weekend ever</a>. <em>- Robin Wilkey</em>
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Movin' On Up
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One evening in August, Richmond residents sheltered in place, taped up their windows and prayed as the nearby Chevron refinery--one of California's largest refineries and a top polluter in the state--<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/08/chevron-fire-richmond_n_1757571.html" target="_hplink">burst into flames after a malfunction</a>. A massive plume of smoke darkened the sky, visible all the way across the bay. Though the fire was extinguished within hours, the damage was done: gas prices skyrocketed, hundreds rushed to emergency rooms reporting breathing problems and the public screamed for environmental impact reports and accountability. "Events like this most recent fire are a trigger for a longstanding mistrust of Chevron," <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/08/chevron-fire-richmond_n_1757571.html" target="_hplink">said Jason Corburn, a University of California, Berkeley public health and urban planning professor</a>, about the oil giant, which is based in the Bay Area. Indeed, the fire stoked not only mistrust in Chevron, but also deep-seeded tensions stemming from the socioeconomic inequalities existing on opposite sides of the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge. ("The wind never blows that smoke to Marin County, now does it?" <a href="http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Big-fire-at-Chevron-refinery-in-Richmond-3767221.php" target="_hplink">said one Richmond resident to the San Francisco Chronicle</a>.) Months later, <a href="http://www.sfgate.com/crime/article/Thousands-join-Chevron-refinery-fire-suit-4071649.php" target="_hplink">thousands joined together in a lawsuit</a> against the company. <em>- Robin Wilkey</em>
The world's most metropolitan movie director <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/07/woody-allen-in-san-francisco_n_1754061.html">finally decided to find inspiration</a> in the City by the Bay, and Find Woody Allen quickly became everyone's favorite summer pastime. The iconic filmmaker was spotted all over town while filming scenes for his newest flick, which is rumored to star Cate Blanchett and tells the tale of a rich New Yorker who moves in with her San Francisco-based sister after losing everything. Channeling his (naturally) hipster heritage, Allen appeared to spend most of his time in the Mission, enjoying a sandwich at Wise Sons deli, tapas at Eserpento and a stroll down 22nd Street. <em>- Carly Schwartz</em>