Beyond the video

Supervisors will weigh Mirkarimi's arm-grab against larger, precedent-setting issues

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Eliana Lopez displays her bruise in the infamous video at the center of the case against Ross Mirkarimi.

steve@sfbg.com

The Board of Supervisors received the official misconduct case against suspended Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi this week, with a majority of Ethics Commission members urging supervisors to give more weight to the 45-second video that started this sordid saga than the voluminous record they have compiled at great expense over five months of hearings.

Yet Chair Benedict Hur, the commission's sole vote against finding that Mirkarimi committed official misconduct, last month argued that supervisors shouldn't take such a narrow view of this decision, expressing concern about the "dangerous precedent" of removing an elected official for conduct unrelated to his job.

Ironically, Hur will be the one presenting the commission's case to the board later this month, a decision his colleagues made because the other options weren't good and because they said he has been so knowledgeable and fair-minded through the process. While Hur is likely to play it straight, the supervisors will have an opportunity to elicit his true perspective — raising questions that will be central to the sheriff's future.

Will supervisors see their decision as a matter of showing zero tolerance for even minor acts of domestic violence, as Mayor Ed Lee and some women's groups are urging? Or will they see this as governmental overkill in pursuing a punishment that doesn't fit the crime, overturning an election and giving mayors too much power to go after their political rivals?

Is this just about Mirkarimi and his actions, or are there larger, more important principles involved in this unprecedented decision?

In the video, Mirkarimi's wife, former Venezuelan soap opera star Eliana Lopez, displays a small bruise on her right bicep and tearfully tells the neighbor who filmed it, Ivory Madison, that Mirkarimi caused it the previous day, Dec. 31, and "this is the second time this is happening." She also said that she wants to work on the marriage, but that, "I'm going to use this just in case he wants to take [her son] Theo away from me."

Lopez last month spent more than three hours on the witness stand being grilled by Deputy City Attorney Peter Keith and Ethics commissioners, explaining why she made the video and how she believed Madison was an attorney and their conversations were confidential. She repeatedly insisted that she was not a victim of domestic violence and criticizing city officials and prosecutors for persecuting her family and taking away her husband's livelihood.

There was nothing in the testimony that obviously impeached Lopez or hurt her credibility. To many observers -– particularly Mirkarimi supporters, who made up the vast majority of those giving public comments to the commission -– her testimony marked the moment when the city's case began to unravel. Indeed, on Aug. 16 the commissioners voted unanimously to reject most of the charges that Lee filed, including witness dissuasion, abuse of authority, and impeding the police investigation.

In the end, there was just that video, and commissioners on Sept. 11 added a final statement into the record that they believed it more than anything Lopez has said since then. Even Hur said that he found it compelling, and that more may have happened on Dec. 31 than Lopez and Mirkarimi have admitted.

But there really isn't much evidence to support that belief, and Hur said in August that it shouldn't matter anyway. If the city's vague and untested official misconduct language can apply to low-level misdemeanors unrelated to an official's duties, he said, "we are opening this provision up to abuse down the road."

 

Comments

Jason Grant Garza ... it is NOW SEPT 19th 2012 ... see comment the posted on this article ( http://www.sfbg.com/2012/06/19/fixing-sfs-sunshine-problems ) which is STILL AWAITING Bruce or ANYONE from SFBG. Here is part of the comment:
:" my dear Bruce, Tim or SFBG staff ... such concern ... why no contact over what I have for the MINISTRY of SUNSHINE? I have written many comments in your paper and not gotten any calls or inquiries over what I have. As you know, I have a signed confession/settlement agreement ( http://www.myownprivateguantanamo.com ) from the city that LEFT ME FOR DEAD. As you know I have much much much paperwork from YEARS of the SUNSHINE TASK FORCE ... where I ask questions, poinitng out failures and rigged process, and recently have IMMEDIATE DISCLOSURE REQUESTS that have NOT even been scheduled. You also state that the SUPERVISORS are closing down sunshine ... (the task force) has not heard cases in JUNE, JULY and NOW AUGUST ... don't the INNOCENT VICTIMS deserve an alternative and why has your paper NOT suggested one? Bruce, MORALS and CONCERN only apply at all times and NOT only when it might sell copy. Why if concerned over FAIRNESS of PROCESS hasn't the SFBG done an article regarding the "OFFICIAL MISCONDUCT" by the four supervisors and asked the appropriate question ... HOW can they sit in JUDGMENT over ROSS ???

Please Bruce ... you were on the TASK FORCE (many years ago) ... why aren't you asking about the RULES and STANDARDS change at ETHICS for a "POUND of FLESH" against ROSS or why are you NOT asking about the "OFFICIAL MISCONDUCT" charges against SUPERVISORS and St. Croix that STILL have not been heard at ETHICS ... yet, they sit in JUDGMENT over ROSS. If the RULES and STANDARDS have changes ... does that mean that all old cases were not properly handled? Why don't you ask Angela (554-5184 Clerk - BOS) why she won;t take my complaint and start an investigation against SOTF? Why don't ask Mr. Wolfe why after the other side (CITY) concedes ... they are NOT held ACCOUNTABLE for the lies and HARM such as my HIPAA matter in cases # 10038 and 11081? Why don't you ask Andrea (clerk - SOTF - 554-7724) why the TASK FORCE has not scheduled two IDRS ... one against JOHNSON, WOLFE and Mr. RUSTOM (from Dec 2011) and the other against GRANT, FISCHER and ANDREA (recently) ?

Please don't disappoint me and followup ...HOW"S about I wait for an answer ... I'll look here for it ... just reply to my comments.

Thank you ... I KNOW you'll LEAD by EXAMPLE."

Ha, ha.ha .... A NATION OF FOOLS DESERVES WHAT IT RECEIVES ....

Keep DRINKING the KOOL- AID .... such CONCERN, SUCH COMPASSION, SUCH UNWAIVERING GOALS ... and most of all SUCH A BLATANT FAILURE ... all meaningless words with NO RESULTS. Oh, I'm sorry ... the GAME SELLS PRINT.

Oh, the MINISTRY of SUNSHINE is STILL CLOSED are ALL VICTIMS just to go somewhere and DIE? What are the VIABLE options ( please don't give false option of go to a lawyer to the poor ) since ALL THE WISE have rushed forward to provide one .... ha,ha,ha.

So Ross got the RUSH job; however, the SUPERVISORS (who committed their OFFICIAL MISCONDUCT before Dec 2011) got a pass ... I mean the VICTIMS have not had their speedy resolution on this matter ... RIGGED is as RIGGED DOES. Now these SUPERVISORS will sit in JUDGMENT over ROSS ... how UNETHICAL is that ??? Truly I am GLAD that SFBG followed up and brought up this EXACT set of facts especially since I have been writing about it in their comment area over months now. Now where was that article regarding the four supervisors "OFFICIAL MISCONDUCT" sitting in JUDGMENT over ROSS .....

Posted by Jason Grant Garza on Sep. 19, 2012 @ 6:02 am

I do not believe for a moment that the sheriff "grabbed" his wife's arm, causing the bruise. That is an elaborate fiction. In her video tape, Lopez says, "this is the second time he's done this." It is very, very hard to rehabilitate a man who engages in violence against women, a man who cannot express himself with words but must use his fists instead. I hope the sheriff can deal with his demons. But in the meantime, while he wrestles with the evil in his soul, the sheriff should resign. He is not at present fit to be sheriff.

Posted by CarolT on Sep. 19, 2012 @ 8:04 am

I know you think a simple arm grab makes for horrifying domestic violence, but it doesn't. If you are going to quote someone, do it accurately, at least. Evil in his soul??? poppycock.
you need to read: www.citireport.com Ivory Madison, in her own words.

does she remind you of you?

Posted by Guest on Sep. 19, 2012 @ 8:38 am

...doesn't it bother anyone that Larry Bush must acquired it under extremely shady circumstances?

Posted by Guest on Sep. 19, 2012 @ 2:17 pm

Yeah, Phil Bronstein, the architech of the whole Mirkarimi debacle. Funny how he skirted under the radar on this. Ivory Madison was his once of many girlfriends. Bronstein is your man.

Posted by MistOfTheCity on Sep. 20, 2012 @ 5:24 pm

I thought everyone thought the connection was that Bronstein and Madison are friends. Why would a friend leak something like this? I think you're deluded.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 21, 2012 @ 3:18 pm

Exactly so, MOTC, Bronstein is the scum who orchestrated the whole deal. How to expose him, that is what I wonder. He is a dangerous person trying to hide in the shadows.

Posted by Barry Eisenberg on Sep. 23, 2012 @ 11:17 am

Exactly so, Mist. He is evil and needs to be flushed out in the open for his true role in the whole machination. Too bad that komodo dragon only bit him on the big toe---it should have been his pecker.

Posted by Barry Eisenberg on Sep. 24, 2012 @ 5:41 pm

Yeah, Phil Bronstein, the architech of the whole Mirkarimi debacle. Funny how he skirted under the radar on this. Ivory Madison was his once of many girlfriends. Bronstein is your man.

Posted by MistOfTheCity on Sep. 20, 2012 @ 5:25 pm

To bruise her arm though? mind control?

Posted by D. Native on Sep. 23, 2012 @ 11:36 am

A simple arm grab? So if your mother, daughter, sister was on film with a large bruise and naming Ross as the culprit....,
Yeah..okay...great morals you have:(

Posted by Guest on Sep. 19, 2012 @ 4:58 pm

What if it was our Mother Daughter Sister and it was this exact situation …the morals would be if the person who CAUSED the black and blue on the arm took responsibility I wouldn’t WANT my daughter mother sister to be USED by a political machine to over turn a democratic election and I wouldn’t want MY mother daughter sister to be high jacked by a political machine and USED for their purposes. I mean Willie Brown/Ed Lee and the corrupt forces that rule SF. WHY would the anti DV use this situation to pile on this family to use as a “MORAL” lesson is it to be used by the same corrupt group. Using this family as YOUR example is STILL using them. What is the morals of your use of this situation and WHO do you serve

Posted by thatsthewayitis on Sep. 22, 2012 @ 5:08 pm

Justice.

Posted by Hortencia on Sep. 22, 2012 @ 6:37 pm

Justice is to cease USING this family for other purposes. RM has taken responsibility for his action and made peace with his family. Now in this matter we need Justice which means restoring the will of the voters that Ross Mirkarimi serve the city of San Francisco as Sheriff. For anyone who wishes to change the Sheriff start the Recall and again LET the will of the voters be made THAT too is Justice.

Posted by thatsthewayitis on Sep. 22, 2012 @ 7:08 pm

ridiculous. Your entire commentary is incompetent, but I think that is the most salient aspect of the whole mess.

Of course, far less nefarious than your misquote of Eliana.

Posted by lillipublicans on Sep. 19, 2012 @ 8:54 am

Remember your anger management therapy, breathe..
Go to your happy place, there you go.
Dream of Ross, now don't you feel warm and fuzzy.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 19, 2012 @ 5:03 pm

yeah ....thats pretty good

Posted by happy guest on Sep. 22, 2012 @ 8:13 pm

How do you "see" his soul anyway Carol. Are you some kind of mystic or what. Maybe you should think before making statements that make no sense at all.

I could make baseless remarks about your "soul" as well. How about it. We all make off the wall accusations of people we don't know.

Posted by Avkanediv on Sep. 19, 2012 @ 12:51 pm

That's it -- he grabbed her arm and in a second he let go of her arm. The truth is that Eliana was hurriedly trying to release the child from the car-seat and she didn't want to finish the conversation about going to VZ again.

When Eliana said that this is the "second" time it happened -- she was referring to the hugh fight about going to VZ where she liked to take the baby for months at a time.

How fair to Ross was her behavior? He tried to stop her from jumping out of the car while they were having an argument.

Why is this so hard for you to believe or do you only believe the worse in everything that you read in the newspapers?

Posted by sophie on Sep. 20, 2012 @ 3:55 am

she was pointing to her bruise. You omitted that crucial fact, which of course completely invalidates the point you thought you'd get away with making.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 23, 2012 @ 2:59 pm

She said, "This is the second time this is happening." Not "This is the second time he's done this." That left the statement open to interpretation or explanation as to what "this" meant.

Posted by Guest Ann Garrison on Sep. 20, 2012 @ 11:19 am

Eliana's sworn affidavit is that she was coached told how to dress was told to shout screw him to get emotional etc if that was how the video was set up and the purpose was to be effective for a possible "custody" battle that puts what was said in the video into a certain perspective and exaggeration fit in to what the purpose of making it was...

Posted by happy guest on Sep. 22, 2012 @ 8:43 pm

Ivory Madison's sworn declaration says otherwise.

Posted by Hortencia on Sep. 23, 2012 @ 9:56 am

Of course much of it was expunged from the record as ridiculously prejudicial hearsay by the sometimes-observant ethics panel, but you can *certainly* believe everything that Ivory said about the video.

For instance, Ivory's claim that she was "uncomfortable" making the video "and did not want to be on the tape or involved in any way" certainly doesn't conflict in any material way with her filming it on her phone in her own home, right?

And when she explains how Phil Bronstein got involved in the story, that all makes perfect sense too, right?

"20. Eliana brought up the idea of calling Mike Hennessy, the recently retired former sheriff who had endorsed Ross to repplace him, to see if he could intervene on her behalf and convince Ross to stop his aubsive behavior and go into counseling. We discussed that perhaps in addition to Hennessey, other "male authority figures" who might have influence over Ross were former mayor Art Agnos and former President of the Board of Supervisors Aaaron Peskin. Eliana said she didn't have their mobile phone numbers, so I told her that I had a friend who might be able to help. My husband and I are close friends with Phil and Chris Bronstein. I told Eliana that Phil, who is the former executive editor for the San Francisco Chronicle, probably knew the three men and had their mobil phone numbers. Eliana said to go ahead and discuss the situation with Phil, and ask if he would help her and how he things she should handle making the calls."

No, the fact that Ivory has written how she identifies with "ineffective assassins" and is fascinated by female characters who have trouble with "male authority figures" doesn't ring any alarm bells whatsoever about her credibility in this matter.

Posted by lillipublicans on Sep. 27, 2012 @ 2:40 am

How do we know she wrote that? Has she confirmed it? How do we know Larry Bush didn't make the whole thing up? If she did write it, did Bush get her approval to run it? Stanford's approval? If not, how did he acquire a private document from a private school about which the writer had a reasonable expectation of privacy?Regardless of its accuracy or provenance, it sounds like yet another attempt by the Mirkarimi-Lopez cabal to shift attention from the Sheriff's unfitness for office.

Posted by Hortencia on Sep. 27, 2012 @ 9:30 pm

so clearly is her work and it is clearly so damaging to her credibility. In reading it, we have something called "accountability" happening. It's a good thing.

Posted by lillipublicans on Sep. 27, 2012 @ 11:11 pm

Perhaps you misunderstood. I don't think the essay damages her credibility.

Posted by Hortencia on Sep. 28, 2012 @ 7:55 am

stands on its own without recourse to her prolix and incompetent Stanford application; and her fascination with fictional characters who have a problem with "male authority figures" didn't come from that app anyway...

http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&old=1&id=13204

along with some interesting contemporaneous commentary from interested fans...

http://forums.comicbookresources.com/showthread.php?211973-Ivory-Madison...

... and there are archived pages of her now taken-down personal website available for further clues as to her motivations:

http://web.archive.org/web/20080820022830/http://www.ivorymadison.com/la...

Posted by lillipublicans on Sep. 28, 2012 @ 8:01 am

Saw the video, that is NOT a small bruise. And that is quite a damning video of an abuse victim pointing at her injury, distraught and telling the world the person responsible, her husband.
Domestic Violence should NOT be tolerated, by anyone, including by a politician who shares political views as your own.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 19, 2012 @ 8:07 am

Nonsense. Be honest: say what your real reason for wanting the guy out is. Nobody is buying the DV claim on this one.

Posted by Avkanediv on Sep. 19, 2012 @ 12:53 pm

For me it's certainly the domestic violence. And the lying. And the gun coverup. And the defamation. And the cynical campaigning with every club and union in town to keep his job. And the intimidation of supervisors by the "progressive" machine.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 19, 2012 @ 2:31 pm

And the fact that he no longer commands any respect from his staff. And because it's not in the best interests of the city.

But mostly he should not be rewarded for abusing his wife.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 19, 2012 @ 2:44 pm

Nobody is rewarded. Do you understand what reward means? He got the votes for the job and is not related to this bs.

Posted by Akvanediv on Sep. 19, 2012 @ 3:39 pm

about the way he exerted power over his wife in a variety of ways.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 19, 2012 @ 3:49 pm

After your medication kicks in, remember this all started when Ross committed Domestic Violence against his wife.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 19, 2012 @ 5:01 pm

Yes, it was a large lightly colored bruise on a very small arm. Please note that by the time of the inauguration on 01/08 there was no bruise on Eliana's arm she was wearing a very sleeveless dress

What was her point in wearing that dress that showed no bruise -- perhaps she was telling the world that her husband did not hurt her. But the public sure has.....

Posted by sophie on Sep. 20, 2012 @ 3:59 am

You said it yourself. In the video she points to the bruise and says "it's happened before". But in her testimony, she says it hadn't happened before.

So was she lying then or is she lying now?

i believe the video over any "coached" testimony.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 19, 2012 @ 8:18 am

referred to recurring arguments about her taking their son Theo to Venezuela. The truth is that the statement was ambiguous. That you would choose to see otherwise -- and discount her under-oath testimony over her appearance in a *coached* video made at the behest of her erstwhile friend Ivory Madison who was acting as her attorney in regard to a possible future custody battle -- demonstrates that you certainly aren't an impartial judge.

Posted by lillipublicans on Sep. 19, 2012 @ 8:45 am

Yes, she is holding up her arm, looking at the bruise and saying "it's not the first time".

But she was probably talking about the 49ers' secondary giving up too much easy yardage. That has happened before also.

Posted by Steroidal Progressive on Sep. 19, 2012 @ 9:20 am

Also, during the video she said that Ross has said that he is a powerful man who can take Theo away from her. During the testimony she said 'He never said that he is a powerful man'.

What still bothers me is that if you are familiar with the SFBG you know that Steven Jones isn't a real journalist but if you just google 'Mirkarimi' and get sent here people might read his stuff under the false belief that it is credible and researched.

It is extremely irresponsible of the SFBG to not label this nonsense as Opinion.

Posted by Troll on Sep. 19, 2012 @ 9:15 am

Read www.citireport.com, Ivory Madison, in her own words.

Ivory Madison, used to pretending to be better educated in several fields, and filled with narcissitic need to avenge things she is annoyed by, told Eliana to look disheveled for the video she (Poison) shot and directed. told Eliana that her close personal friend, Mr. Bronstein had gotten custody of a non-genetic child with Sharon Stone by using the power of asserting "domestic violence"...told Eliana that Ross had political power and that the only way that she, a Venezuelan, would be successful in any posssible future custody fight was to make this video. There are "powerful" laws about one parent taking a child out of the country. Do you disagree with them.? You need to actually read the record here, something that Steven Jones, a journalist, unlike you, has actually done. get to work!

Posted by Guest on Sep. 19, 2012 @ 9:51 am

I notice that every time someone points out Lopez' inconsistency a Mirkarimi supporter tries to change the subject to Ivory Madison.

A losing, desperate tactic that isn't going to work.

So Ivory Madison has some type of hypnotic power that caused Lopez to hold up a mostly self inflicted bruise in order to cause trouble for her husband.

But, after the spell was broken Lopez turned into a paragon of strength and virtue, providing conflicting testimony to the EC. Totally uncoached this time. With her complete respect and support for our legal process on the record. With no financial gain to be had if Ross kept his job.

You guys are just SO wasting your time by trying to shift the focus to Ivory Madison. But if that's the best you got, then, well, knock yourself out.

Posted by Troll on Sep. 19, 2012 @ 10:42 am

Honestly, you have done more to beat up on Eliana than anyone else, including Ivory Madison. You don't even know her, but that doesn't stop you from blathering on about her in the cruelest way. According to you, her real motive is 'financial gain' but you don't have a shred of evidence for that. I challenge you to come up with it. If you can't, then STFU! What should be apparent to anyone with eyes is that Eliana is intensely loyal to Ross, and she loves her family enough to fight for it. You are the ones wasting everyone's time with your vicious slander. Ya basta!!

Posted by Guest on Sep. 20, 2012 @ 12:02 pm
Posted by lillipublicans on Sep. 19, 2012 @ 1:38 pm

So if she is capabale of that on video, who is to say that she isn't capable of that at any and every other time.

At best she is, as Erika said, not very smart. At worst, she is a deliberate, conniving, manipulative woman who will "do anything" to get what she wants. It's just that what she wants changes with time:

She loves Ross, then she hates Ross, then she loves Ross, then she .. .

Posted by Guest on Sep. 19, 2012 @ 1:53 pm

ambiguous statement to a video camera under coaching by an ersatz lawyer with a rather strange agenda of her own.

Posted by lillipublicans on Sep. 19, 2012 @ 2:09 pm

something in your brain to cause you to make 50% of all the posts on this board.

But I have no evidence that happened. And you have no evidence that Lee lied. it's just that you believe the words of that lying loser Debra Walker and the rest of us do not.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 19, 2012 @ 2:19 pm

Lee may or may not have lied, but Mirkarimi and Lopez certainly did.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 19, 2012 @ 2:26 pm

The mayor lied. Thanks.

Posted by jccourt on Sep. 20, 2012 @ 9:46 am

Prove it. We have proof Lopez lied. Prove Lee did. "Thanks."

Posted by Guest on Sep. 20, 2012 @ 11:31 am