Late Tuesday afternoon, a long line formed in front of Room 400 at San Francisco City Hall to watch the Ethics Commission as they made up the rules in their continuing public inquisition of deposed Sheriff Mirkarimi during a contentious six hour meeting. (Click here for a background story.)
The crowd was large enough that the overflow of about 100 people were put into an adjoining hearing room that featured a large screen where the meeting was being televised.
Though the crowd was mostly quiet and attentive, there were also plenty of groans and derisive laughter when the City's unctuous attorneys, such as Peter Keith above, laid out the need for an encyclopedic list of expert witnesses that have nothing to do with the core issue of whether Mirkarimi committed "official misconduct" when he got into a domestic argument with his wife, Eliana Lopez.
Provoking the most derision was attorney Sherri Kaiser above who was reminiscent of the Dolores Umbridge character in the Harry Potter series. That was the teacher at Hogwarts who wore big pink bows and was a stickler for good behavior and propriety while not so secretly torturing children. Ms. Kaiser kept intimating that there were deeper, darker secrets that had not yet been revealed, and the only way she was going to get to them was if Mirkarimi essentially stopped defending himself and declared himself a dastardly woman-beating criminal. "We have so few resources and time," she kept complaining, which was one of the more patently absurd lines of the evening.
The City and County of San Francisco has an annual budget of nearly seven billion dollars which is somehow not enough to fix potholes without a special public bond, but does seem to be enough to pay "expert witnesses" millions of dollars to testify about law enforcement practices around the state of California. Meanwhile, Mirkarimi is going bankrupt trying to defend himself, with Shepard Kopp above as one of his lawyers. (Click here for another thorough, brilliant article by Larry Bush at CitiReport about the dubious ethical track record of some of these expert witnesses.)
Bush also points out how grotesquely skewed the media coverage has been from day one with this damning set of statistics:
"In the first sixty days of the Mirkarimi case emerging publicly, the Chronicle ran 98 news stories, gossip column items, editorials and other materials. The Examiner ran 55 stories and editorials and gossip columns in the same period, and the SFAppeal and BayCitizen each ran just under 20 stories.Update: The Mayor, The Ethics Commission, and the San Francisco Chronicle proceeded to digitally publish the Eliana Lopez video today in an act so personally invasive and disgraceful it beggars belief.
The Chronicle, which led the coverage, never mentioned the District Attorney’s conflicts, never covered Mirkarimi’s longtime romantic partner’s claim that Ross was never violent, never covered the District Attorney’s failure to pursue nearly 1,000 domestic violence referrals in the past year, and never covered other issues such as the potential lack of impartiality on the part of the judge hearing the case.
Unsurprisingly, the paper backed its coverage by rushing out a poll with an unknown client and with no reporting on the questions to say that public opinion has turned sharply against Mirkarimi."
It appeared fairly obvious that the fix is in for the commission to do whatever Mayor Ed Lee tells them to do, and when angry outbursts from the audience got out of hand, Commission Chairman Benedict Hur above adjourned for a quick recess.
The entirely pro-Mirkarimi crowd in the hallways started chanting what I thought was "Shame on You!" at the city lawyers as they came out for a break, but which has been reported elsewhere as "Shame on Lee!" Either one would have been appropriate because the stink of brazen corruption at San Francisco City Hall these days is getting a bit ripe.