Monday, January 09, 2012

A Tale of Two Inaugurations 2: Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi

Three hours later, at Herbst theatre across Van Ness Avenue from City Hall, there was another inauguration. It was for ex-District 5 Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, who had just won a hard-fought election for Sheriff last November. Unlike the Mayor Ed Lee affair in City Hall, seating in the fancy old theater was on a first-come, first-serve basis, and they finally opened up the balcony for the decent sized crowd of about 1,000.

Both inaugurations had dark clouds over them. In Ed Lee's case, it was because his election was so blatantly undemocratic, with the old San Francisco political machine selecting him behind closed doors after Gavin Newsom left office last year. In Ross Mirkarimi's case, it was on account of a bombshell that had been exploded by Phil Matier (below left), the political gossip columnist at the San Francisco Chronicle that same Sunday morning. He reported that the San Francisco Police Department was deciding whether or not to arrest newly-elected Sheriff Mirkarimi for domestic violence against his new Venezuelan telenovela star wife. (Click here for the Matier & Ross hit piece.)

Matier was in the lobby of Herbst Theatre, talking closely with San Francisco Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White above right. The Chief also has a history of police coming to her house inquiring about domestic violence when she was reportedly bashing her husband with a pint glass back in 2005 (click here). Nobody was demanding her resignation over the issue at the time, but that's possibly because she is a part of the native-born San Francisco government cabal that largely and ineptly runs San Francisco.

The inauguration started with a sheriff's drill team leading the Pledge of Allegiance and then the young lady above singing the National Anthem a capella quite fabulously, and then there was an emcee and a promise of entertainment that included Puccini's "Un Bel Di" and a Persian Folk Song, which is when I remembered that Tiger's kitty litter across the street needed cleaning so I did so.

I returned an hour later just in time for the last speaker on the program, Sheriff Mirkarimi himself. I stayed for a couple of minutes of his speech and then moved on to The Green Room, where a free reception complete with wine and roving appetizers was going to be held.

Nobody loves the sound of his own voice quite like Ross Mirkarimi, but I was still surprised that his oration ran for a steady forty minutes. Meanwhile I chatted up the charming catering crew in the Green Room, waiting for the mobs to arrive.

They finally did make their entrance, and there were people you actually wanted to see like Glendon Hyde aka Annaconda above, a District 6 Supervisorial candidate from last November.

There was also a favorite sheriff's deputy, above left, who works at City Hall. It was the first time I had seen him out of his dorky sheriff's uniform and he looked sharp.

There was a huge police presence all around the Veterans building, and it wasn't quite clear if this was meant as protection or intimidation of Mirkarimi, who they seem to despise.

It will be interesting to see how this all plays out.


Dividist said...

Nice job as usual.

You know, if I was thinking clearly, I would have supported Mirkarimi for Sheriff. He is just not in a position to do as much damage as Sheriff as when he was on the Board of Supervisors.

As far as Mirk's "troubles" - there is no way they will prosecute unless his wife presses charges. There is really no case without her.

That said - it is kind of fun to think about the dynamic of that domestic situation going forward. Ross now has absolutely no say about anything that will go on in that household from now until - eternity. One word from his Venezuelan firebrand, and Mirkarimi's political career is over. He has created his own special ring of hell for himself, right here on this earthly plane. I couldn't be happier for the guy.

Civic Center said...

Dear dividist: I had a few of those same thoughts about the "until eternity" domestic situation myself.

Nancy Ewart said...

Looks like they are going to file a misdemeanor charge:

Civic Center said...

Dear Nancy: I saw that, and it strikes me as pure political vendetta. The fire chief's husband, for instance, called the cops back in 2005 and filed a complaint that she had brained him with a pint glass, then later recanted the story, and nothing happened. This whole thing smells.

Dividist said...

My initial reaction was the same as yours, there has to be something more going on here, as without Eliana's cooperation, this is serious over-reach on the part of the D.A. It is highly unlikely they are going to get a conviction from a jury without her support.

However, upon further consideration, I think everyone is missing the real issue. The alleged "domestic violence" is likely not the big problem and not the reason why Gascon had to go forward with this.

The big BIG problem for Mirkarimi is the "dissuading a witness" charge.

Like Watergate, like Iran-Contra, like Bill's blowjob, the act itself is not what gets these guys in the end - it is always the cover up.

It is unacceptable to have a chief law enforcement officer trying to tamper with or dissuade witness testimony. That cannot happen. Mirkarimi can be found completely innocent of the domestic violence charge, but if he is guilty of dissuading a witness, he cannot be in this job.

That is the only reason I can think of why Gascon would go ahead with filing charges.

Civic Center said...

Dear dividist: I'll be writing more about this at some future point. The current domestic violence legal framework has swung pendulum-style from tolerating men beating up their women in the past to a guilty-until-proven-innocent stance, with people being thrown out of their homes and not being able to see their partners and children, as Mirkarimi is experiencing. It's crazy and I've seen a few innocent people caught in its maws before.

Gascon throwing in child endangerment and dissuading a witness just sounds like boilerplate resisting-an-officer charges. From what I can gather, the witness he supposedly is dissuading is his wife, which is where we're getting into some serious Kafka territory.

Again, we'll see how this plays out, but watching the old power structure of San Francisco gloating while being sanctimonious, considering their own well-documented peccadilloes, is both hilarious and stomach-churning.