Saturday, August 18, 2012

Indecency, Bad Faith, and Wrong Action

If it was not so dispiriting, the Ethics Commission deliberations on Thursday afternoon would have been grotesquely funny in their constant absurdity. The five-member commission was deciding, after a series of inflammatory hearings dating back to April, whether Sheriff-Elect Ross Mirkarimi should be booted out of office for bruising his wife's arm during an argument on New Year's Eve, and whether that fell below the standards of "decency, good faith, and right action" required of a public official.

The only problem was that nobody really knew what "official misconduct" meant, or whether "relating to the duties of the office" applied to misbehavior that occured before Mirkarimi started his Sheriff's job. To add to the complications, Mayor Ed Lee and City Attorney Dennis Herrera had cooked up a whole bowl of charges to throw at the wall to see what might stick, so the Commission had to address "dissuasion of witnesses" and whether it was misconduct to turn in guns to the Sheriff's Department rather than the Police Department, and so on and so forth. Chairman Benedict Hur above did his best to bring some sanity into the proceedings, but it was a losing effort.

It was difficult to look at anything but Jamienne Studley's monster shell necklace during all her close-ups, as she clucked her tongue at Mirkarimi's bad behavior, and lectured him on why didn't he just behave this way instead of that way? There were theological arguments about misconduct as opposed to official misconduct, and Studley offered various analogies, each more idiotic than the last. The analogy attempts were topped by Commissioner Paul Renne's contribution: "Joe Paterno didn't do anything illegal in that Penn State case, but you would have to call it official misconduct," demonstrating his dubious lack of expertise in criminal law after decades of representing PG&E for his downtown firm.

Renne joined Commissioners Studley, Deborah Liu and Beverly Hayon (above, looking like she was going to an Austin Powers Theme Party) in dismissing virtually all of the Mayor's charges against Mirkarimi, but somehow managed to "sustain the charges" by making up a new one of their own, "this section of #4, and a bit of #1, or is it #5, and are we discussing Option 1 or Option 2 here?" It was cluelessness squared that ended in complete chaos, rather like the Act One finale of a Rossini comic opera where all the characters separately sing, "I don't know what to think, I'm in such confusion." It was such a mess that the Commission will have to meet again to try and hammer out some kind of coherent report for the Board of Supervisors, who are next in line at this public inquisition.


sfwillie said...

Dear Mike,

My supervisor, Carmen Chu, was appointed to office by the Willie Brown Group (WBG).

Mayor Lee was appointed to office by WBG.

The District Attorney, likewise, appointed by WBG.

WBG cannot tolerate a Sheriff who gains office by an actual vote of the people. WBG wants to appoint its own sheriff.

Such is democracy in "progressive" San Francisco.

BTW: The blue theme in the second photo captures the unwholesomeness of the hearing, per se.

Fantastic coverage!


Greg said...

Actually Renne was right on the money regarding the Paterno situation. While he didn't harm any children personally, his lack of oversight and refusal to listen to people telling him something horrible was happening amounted to misconduct because the end result was seriously horrible actions hurting kids.

I don't like Ed Lee at all, but Ross's conduct both in this one incident and a long history of being a mean person behind closed doors makes me not like him either. Can we please boot BOTH Ross and Ed and start over?

Greg said...

Also Carmen Chu ended up being a better supervisor for the Inner Sunset than the one we had as our "elected" official - Ross Mirkarimi. Sad but true.

Michael Strickland said...

Dear Willie: Thanks. End Appointed Incumbency now.

Dear Greg: It's my understanding that not reporting sexual child abuse to legal authorities is also against the law, but I might be wrong, considering how many Catholic higher-ups who are in that same position are still free and clear. Still, equating raping a child and grabbing your wife's arm seemed a grotesque stretch.

Also curious, how is Carmen Chu "better" as an Inner Sunset Supervisor? She's certainly not better for the city at large, as she gives away the swollen city treasury to the public safety unions. (I believe her husband works for the Fire Department.)

Emil Lawrence/Night Cabbie said...

Yes, I backed Mr. Mirkirimi, not because he was a Saint, that did get into a fight with his wife, but for many other reasons. If his wife had a bruise on her ass, there would be no story, no video, no false imprisonment, no victim or police story. San Francisco, at times, is a Circus Maximus. I was at the hearing when Mr. Lee started stumbling through his cross examination before the bomb scare from the mysterious seven foot Ukrainian who calling from the Golden Gate bridge. The Bailiff escorted Mr. Lee out of the room but no one person from the audience. Here, the captain of the ship took the first lifeboat. I am not running for mayor, I am just following Feinstein's orders. Feinstein and Lee are plotting for the next mayor and Mirkirimi has too many followers for them to digest. And, like me, he is a United States veteran that seerved his country in the time of need. Mr. Lee spends too much time in the Republic of China and Feinstein's husband Richard Blum is a criminal that gets fed government contracts from his wife the Senator. This is the system.