This morning 11 members of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors woke up, rubbed the sleep from their eyes, and regretted it immediately. This is the day they have been hoping would never come. Especially in an election year. And yet it arrives today, with clomping feet and eyes of fury.
This morning domestic violence advocates woke up, rubbed the sleep from their eyes, and then shook their heads sadly. How did this all go so wrong? How did a cause that everyone in town supports get hijacked, twisted, and corrupted under an avalanche of accusations and innuendo?
This morning, far north of our little town at the edge of the world, a retired sheriff woke up, tended to his mother, and wondered how a legacy of progressive leadership measured in decades could be tarnished in a matter of months.
This morning, as the rest of us woke up, rubbed the sleep from our eyes, and shuffled down the hallway to do battle with another day, someone else here in the 49-acre woods was doing the same thing. But at the same time, he is not having the same morning as any of us. Because he put all of this in motion.
Today, one way or another, the tale of San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi gets its last chapter. Whatever happens from this point forward, this is the only story people will remember, the bruise heard around the world. Like some political black hole, it has sucked everyone into it, regardless of their connection to this event.
At this point everyone is tainted with it, and I don't even know whom I pity more. I wrote back in January that in a weird twist of fate, the proud representative of the progressives could wind up being the force that ultimately destroys progressive power on the board of supervisors. And every progressive supervisor on the board now knows exactly what I meant. The ones running in close elections are even trying to get themselves recused (Eric Mar and Christina Olague, I'm looking at you). But they need the vote of six of their fellow supervisors to approve that, and you know what the rest of the board is thinking: If I am shackled to this runaway train to hell... so are you.
I wonder how the advocates and organizations that work tirelessly to rid the city of domestic violence move forward after today. First they had to watch an elected official tell the world that what happened on New Year's Eve was a private matter, later admitting it was an act of domestic violence and when that didn't make this go away, the wolves were turned loose on the advocates. Mirkarimi's lawyers and his feverish supporters painting them as vigilantes, an "industry" out for itself, and yet another cog in a mythical "machine." A "machine" out to thwart Mirkarimi's progressive agenda as sheriff; one that should go over very well among the rank and file now that Mirkarimi has spent months basically calling San Francisco law enforcement racist and fearful of his reforms.
Oh yes, let us not forget the machine, this almighty shapeless force that bludgeons everything in its path for some reason that never seems to be quite clear. How the machine caused a bruise, made a video, and then pled guilty I have never been able to quite understand. And yet at every turn we have heard how the machine made this all happen, and poor Ross with his world-changing ideas was just a pawn in their fiendish plot.
Let's just repeat that for a second. Ross grabbed his wife. Ross' wife made a video. Ross pled guilty. (He admitted on the stand at the Ethics Commission that no one from the D.A.'s office ever told him the false imprisonment charge is related to "turning the van around." That's his personal, convenient fiction.) It was only after the mayor removed Mirkarimi from office that this "machine" suddenly appeared in our midst. If history is written by the victorious, then apparently the past gets to be rewritten by the fallen.
But Ross finally gets his day. Oh Lordy, we have been hearing about this day. From the very beginning, he has told us all that he cannot wait to tell his story. Then came the delays. And the filings. And the objections. The appeals one after another. At every step he was turned back, by judges and commissioners who are apparently all also part of this plot against him. Finally we are arriving at the blessed day when the story will be told.
Except that is already has been told. Over and over again. In front of courts, and commissioners, and now the board. And at its core, the story has never changed. Yes, you read that right. The story has been the same as it was on day one of this entire mess. Ross was sheriff-elect. Ross bruised his wife. His wife made a video. He pled guilty. He's on probation and in therapy. And every move, every scheme, every desperate filing by his lawyers has not changed these facts.
Of course, members of the board can ignore these facts and instead trust their political futures to the 1,200 vocal signatories to the "Reinstate Ross" petition, but here's another fact: one way or another tomorrow Mirkarimi, progressive supervisors and advocates for victims of domestic violence are going to wake up to a very different reality.