Guest opinion: It's not about Mirkarimi, it's about us


Virtually unmentioned in the torrent of words that have flowed over the Ross Mirkarimi false imprisonment, suspension and pending vote to determine his removal by the Board of Supervisors is any reference to what should now be the most important issue to be considered as the sad saga unfolds: the fact that Mirkarimi was, just four months before his removal, elected by a majority vote and his removal from office would simply set aside that vote, diminishing all of our cherished beliefs about "majority rule."

Mirkarimi didn't just win, he won big. He beat the second place candidate by nearly 19,000 votes, winning outright without the need for the magic of instant run-off. Mirkarimi got more first place votes than did Ed Lee (70,204 vs. 59,663). Moreover, Mirkarimi's election was without controversy, complaint or charge of illegality, unlike Ed Lee's, which resulted in a total of 25 misdemeanor convictions for illegal campaign contributions by a city contractor with a pending contact before a commission appointed by the mayor.

Since the 5-4 vote of the Supreme Court to give George Bush the election in 2000 after Al Gore won a majority of the popular vote, there has been a distressingly frequent willingness by the media to accept executive and judicial actions that set aside popular votes. The conservative governor of Michigan has simply taken over local governments that he deems financially "irresponsible" setting aside the votes of local residents. In California, a tiny minority of Republican legislators, elected by a comparative handful of voters, yearly stymie the overwhelmingly majority elected legislators, forcing deeply unpopular budget cuts -- and the media simply goes along.

Majority rule, the very bedrock of representative democracy, seems unnervingly easy to set aside now days. Majority rule is our bedrock because it's the only way in which our system has to define the political will of the people. Let's be clear, the very City Charter that is being used to remove Mirkarimi from office rests on the power given by "the people of the City and County of San Francisco," (Preamble to the Charter) and was itself adopted by a majority vote. Setting aside majority votes is a dangerous business for us all; it risks substituting the will of a few insiders for the will of the people.

The political riskiness of the move has been entirely incorrectly cast by the San Francisco Chronicle, the main voice to overturn the expressed will of the people. The Chronicle asserts the political risks as now falling on the supervisors who most vote to sustain the mayor's action with nine votes. Indeed, the ace vote counter at the "Comical," former Mayor Willie Brown, who went zero-for-ever in the last four years of his term in votes at the board, confidently predicts that the vote will be 11-zip to sustain the mayor because of the fear of voter retribution.

But facts indicate that "fear" will play the other way. Last November Mirkarimi won in six of the 11 supervisorial districts (D3, D5, D6, D8, D9 and D10) . In two of them (D8 and D10), he won more first-place votes than the current supervisor. In these same six districts he outpolled Ed Lee by some 18,000 votes. By what measure, other than the huffing and puffing of ex-Mayor Willie, C(onsistenly) W(rong) Nevius, and the two stooges, Matier and Ross, does any political risk fall on these supervisors to vote with their constituents?

Chances are nine votes will NOT be there and that Mirkarimi will remain sheriff, where the people put him.We will have gone through a divisive fight addressing none of our deep problems, Mayor Lee will squander the good will of the supervisors and voters for nothing and we will be exactly where we are now.

We have a way to remove Mirkarimi from office that is far better for our democracy. It's one of the great inventions of the Progressive Era. It's called recall, and it puts the matter where it should be: before the people. It's really not about Mirkarimi anymore. Its about us, the meaning of our votes, and the responsibility of supervisors to understand in whose name they govern. All power to the people!

Calvin Welch lives, works and plays in San Francisco.


Wow, just wow.
So because some amount of people voted for Progressive Mirkarimi, he shouldnt be allowed to be removed from office for crimes he plead to?
The Cities charter allows for the process which is currently unfolding.

I am really struggling to understand what the former votes for mirkarimi as sheriff have to do with his current misconduct charges. How can the guy in charge of probation be ON probation?

Would Mr Welch also complain about the judicial action of the court which found Prop 8 unconstitutional? The popular vote was to enact prop 8 as we all know.

Posted by Greg on Apr. 05, 2012 @ 10:56 am

Greg, when you write of "crimes [Mirkarimi] plead to" is that not a willful falsehood on your part? I mean, you must know that Mirkarimi plead guilty to *one* count of false imprisonment -- which, by the way, was a charge stemming from his momentarily grabbing his wife's arm.

If you are willing to knowingly and obviously incorporate outright falsehoods into your commentary, I think that reflects rather poorly on the degree to which your opinions should be valued. Or was that "s" just a typo?

Posted by lillipublicans on Apr. 05, 2012 @ 11:07 am

One crime is not enough? Clearly for you it is not.

Posted by Greg on Apr. 05, 2012 @ 11:15 am

There you go again.

A simple, "I was mistaken" might have served to preserve your credibility -- after all, I gave you an out -- but instead you immediately react with a personal attack land by suggesting that I am of a type for whom crime is a benefit or something to be fostered.

Not much point in debating you I'm sure, but I will say that when Ed Jew was finally removed by Gavin Newsome several months after facts regarding his false claims of residency came to light along with video evidence of his extortionary habits towards his "constituents," I rather doubt you were on the vanguard calling for such action.

Posted by lillipublicans on Apr. 05, 2012 @ 11:40 am

Ed Jew absolutely should have been removed by Newsom (No E) for what he did.
In fact, Ed Jew is in prison, if I remember correctly.

Now, Mirks crimes involve battery of another human being - his wife. He pleaded guilty to false imprisonment of his wife. As Sheriff, that is a bit of a conflict.There is no parallel between the crimes of Ed Jew and what Mirkarimi is going through.

Posted by Greg on Apr. 05, 2012 @ 11:53 am

"There is no parallel between the crimes of Ed Jew and what Mirkarimi is going through."

I'm so pleased to see that in this small measure I have been able to bring you around to see the light, but you persist with pluralizing "crime(s)" -- and now portray his plea as being related to "battery." He did not plead guilty to battery.

Once again I'll say that I rather doubt you were on the vanguard attacking Ed Jew.

Posted by lillipublicans on Apr. 05, 2012 @ 12:22 pm

I agree with this poster wholeheartedly. "Greg" has proven himself to be a vicious attack dog for the anti-Mirkarimi lynch mob--he might even be Eric Jaye, who has orchestrated the whole anti-Ross comments thing that has turned so vicious and disgusting and backfired, btw, as people can see that these comments are way, way beyond the pale.
Ross held his wife's arm. Period. He did not commit a crime. He was trying to get her to calm down, as she was hysterical. Itwas, indeed, a private matter, a personal matter, not DV as the ridiculous, knee-jerk reaction by DV groups has made out. This whole case has made me so disgusted at San Francisco's politics--makes me want to leave this city to the philistines who want to, oops, who already, run it.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 11, 2012 @ 2:19 pm

Ross pled guilty to one crime: false imprisonment. That's all.

Posted by Guest Ann Garrison on Jul. 13, 2012 @ 5:27 pm

Yes. I agree that the political algebra works exactly as you say and not as has been claimed by the Chronicle -- who have banned me and others of similar minds due to not agreeing with their editorial slant on the story.

Moreover, as a San Francisco resident who was more-or-less ambivalent about Mayor Lee prior to this escapade, I've come to hold him in the exact same frame of contempt which it took me years to develop fully for his mentor Willie Brown.

Is it too early to start a recall campaign of Lee?

Posted by lillipublicans on Apr. 05, 2012 @ 10:59 am

No sir, it is not to early to begin organizing a recall, in fact two recalls: one for Mayor Pants on Fire Lee and the other for upcoming movie star George Gascon! It won't be easy to do without the paid signature gatherers the other side typically employs, but with a solid community effort it can be done. Wouldn't that be a turn of events, the people turning the rascals out, and in the face of the media campaign that's been run. All power to the people. And if that doesn't work, there's always Occupy City Hall, which is on the horizon.

Posted by barry eisenberg on Apr. 05, 2012 @ 3:15 pm

You are right Barry, it won't be easy, because Ed Lee. And Gascon are actually pretty popular. In general people like the job that they are doing. Wethe people got a one year preview of what they can do in their positions, and we decided we like it. Go for a recall. All you will do is waste some weekends standing in front of Safeway.

Posted by D. native on Apr. 05, 2012 @ 5:49 pm

Don't be silly, D. They don't mean "all the people" when they say "we the people." They mean the Bay Guardian's kind of people.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 13, 2012 @ 12:26 pm

Though we probably agree on everything else about this, we disagree on this recall idea. San Franciscans barely even voted in the last mayoral election - something like 40% of registered voters were willing to take the time. Recalls are expensive and they divert a lot of attention from what else is going on. I'm acutely aware of this right now because as a KPFA programmer and longtime listener, I've had to get involved in the attempt to recall Tracy Rosenberg from the KPFA Local Station Board.

After this, all I can say to all this recall talk is no no no no no, not another recall. Voters, including myself, don't have the bandwith for it. These are the hardest times since the Great Depression, all over.

Posted by Guest Ann Garrison on Jul. 13, 2012 @ 7:33 pm

I suspect many people who voted for the propositions creating and modifying the charter for the ethics commission hoped it would serve to reign-in and preclude the misbehavior of the Willie Brown and Ed Lee types rather than be used by them to overturn the will of the voters.

Recall Ed Lee.

Posted by lillipublicans on Apr. 05, 2012 @ 11:02 am

Bring it out- but basically you are just upset because whoever you supported for Mayor didn't win and you don't agree with Ed Lee and don't like his politics.

Doing things that you do not like and doing things that are wrong are two different things.

Posted by DNative on Apr. 05, 2012 @ 11:34 am

No. You misunderstand. The recall system is there for when the electorate decides that -- for any reason -- they no longer want a particular candidate to represent them. That said, misbehavior by Ed Lee starts with the manner in which his campaign was funded and his election was conducted, and continues with his suspension of Mirkarimi without pay; an act which is unsupportable under city law.

Posted by lillipublicans on Apr. 05, 2012 @ 12:31 pm

Personally I think it is silly to try and recall some on that was elected without a good reason. In this case, you seem to be advocating recalling Ed Lee because you disagree with a couple of his decisions. My educated guess is that there is no where close to enough support to recall Ed Lee or even get it going. Frankly, a majority of SF likes the job he is doing and actually supports his decision on Mirk.

Posted by DNative on Apr. 05, 2012 @ 1:44 pm

Would still vote for him now that he has plead guilty to unlawfully imprisoning his wife?

Plus- the law is the law- The City Charter provides a method for this. It is not like this came up out of thin air- this process has been on the books for decades. It is obviously inspired by the very fact that a similar process is laid out in the U.S. Constitution.

Further- I truly question whether the outcry that seems to be coming from Ross supporters would be there if it were saw Greg Suhr in a similar position or Ed Lee. Most likely there would be numerous marches followed by big rallies at Dolores Park and long lines at Bi-Rite Creamery.

Also- I question whether Ross can get those 3 votes he needs to stay in office. His basic argument now is that "I held my wife against her will an entire 9 days before I became the Sheriff- so not a big deal everyone" . Good luck defending that vote in November.

Posted by DNative on Apr. 05, 2012 @ 11:02 am

So if you are all for Majority Rule- I assume you are up in arms over the over turning of Prop 8- when one Judge overruled the people of California? Do you also protest Roe v. Wade- when again a small group of people overrode the will of the states? How about Brown v. Topeka Board of Education? I doubt the people of Topeka at that time really wanted integrated schools.

Posted by DNative on Apr. 05, 2012 @ 11:08 am

There is no conflict. Majority rule/will of the voters applies with regard to elected representatives and officers. Constitutional rule -- i.e. "Republic" -- applies to oversight of these elected officers.

You are arguing for what? Rule by a minority? Citing obscure and ambiguous law to justify their acts? Without court oversight?

Posted by lillipublicans on Apr. 05, 2012 @ 11:46 am

He makes an argument for rule by majority and that is how it has to be, when in fact, our system of laws has numerous provisions where a small minority can and do in make the decision for the majority and at times overrule the actual votes of the majority as in the case of Prop 8. Based on some fo the statements of the author in the article, I think it is a fair assumption that he is pretty liberal politically and thus I felt it would be useful to point out cases where a small group of people overruled the will of the majority. It is awfully easy to rely on that as your argument when it suits your opinions.

And last I checked the cases I used as examples were hardly obscure and ambiguous. Prop 8 has been all over the news, Roe v. Wade is obvious, and Brown is a case that ever child in America learns about in school.

Posted by DNative on Apr. 05, 2012 @ 12:24 pm

DNative, I don't care for duplicitous rhetoric and I don't engage or condone it -- but neither to I indict the writer for engaging in such behavior in this case because it isn't necessary to see the valid points he made in such a way; even though when you search for such reasons, you can claim to have found them.

Bush v. Gore related to the installation of a officer over the will of the people; similar indeed to the overturning of the elections results with regard to Mirkarimi.

Rowe vs. Wade is a majority opinion nowdays and pertains to a quesiton of the constitutionality of law; not the political viability of an elected officer. You may question the legal basis on which the decision was made -- as I've heard has been done -- but you cannot fail to see the distinction between court oversight of legislation and by-fiat overturning of an election without coming out in favor of overthrowing our republic in favor of one consisting of pure democracy or pure authoritarianism. Which is it?

Brown v Board of Education. You are talking abou the constitutional right of every American child to a decent primary school education. Damn.

Posted by lillipublicans on Apr. 05, 2012 @ 1:46 pm

Welch went on and on about the issue of majority rule and not invalidating the will of the people and that the people needed to be heard.

i pointed out how it can go both ways- i.e. Prop 8- one judge invaldiated the will of the people- thank goodness he did to.

Bush v. Gore is a dead horse.

My point with Roe is simple- at the time several states via their duly elected legislatures did not allow abortions. The Supreme Court decided this was not right- thus upsurting the majority. Same with Brown v. Topeka- Do you think the people fo Topeka wanted integrated schools at that time- nope otherwise it wouldn't have gotten to the Supreme Court.

My point is that Welch can't have it both ways. Our laws allow for Lee to suspend and the BoS to kick Ross out of office. Thus trumping the majority. Same with my other examples. Can't have your cake and eat it to.

Posted by DNative on Apr. 05, 2012 @ 3:11 pm

I'm glad we are in agreement with regard to Prop 8, DNative, but there no parallel constitutional controversy with regard to having a convicted "false imprisoner" -- someone who grabbed his wife's arm during an argument -- as sheriff. Denying the right of citizens to marry who they want *isn't* and *shouldn't* *have* *ever* *been* a subject of popular will. Electing a sheriff *is* and *has* *always* *been*. See?

Do you hold that some white majority of Topeka was right or justified in denying a decent education to black students? It is completely different from this case wherein the mayor has exaggerated his powers under city ethics law.

Posted by lillipublicans on Apr. 05, 2012 @ 3:45 pm

Not worth the effort. We just have different points of view. Peace.

Posted by D. native on Apr. 05, 2012 @ 5:53 pm

I find it wonderful how the arguments of the extreme right and the extreme left converge as evidenced in this editorial.

You guys are f**ked.

Posted by Greg on Apr. 05, 2012 @ 11:17 am

Greg, I'd like to see you explain how *anything* in this editorial can be classified as extreme -- right or left.

Personally, I think you describe your own position best when you stick to the pithy language.

Posted by lillipublicans on Apr. 05, 2012 @ 12:26 pm

lillipublicans v lillicrats. big-endians v little-endians.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 05, 2012 @ 12:34 pm

I'll let you self-analyze to have your best chance at understanding what they are.

Posted by lillipublicans on Apr. 05, 2012 @ 1:22 pm

That is one of the great thing about not being a partisan hack, you are not forced to claim your convictions and then make endless excuses and rationalisations for the leadership.

The progressives are really no better than any other self identified group when it comes to doing the right thing. They are as loud and self righteous as born again Christians, they are as paranoid and have the same persecution complex as born againers, and they will remake every situation to their own advantage just as born againers.

Posted by matlock on Apr. 06, 2012 @ 7:06 am

Seriously. Nothing more can be written about this steaming pile of shit of a case than has already been written.

Posted by Troll II on Apr. 05, 2012 @ 11:48 am

I think it is a riot to watch the far left (progressives if you want) scramble around and try to justify keeping Ross in office. Other than Adachi- who has ticked off the unions with his pension reform measures, he is the only true progressive in city wide office right now (well sort of).

Absolutely hysterical to watch the progressives try to play down his crime when you know that if it was Ed Lee, Newsom, Suhr, or Gascon, in the same situation, there would be candlelight marches, marches, and an unending stream of editorials and etc. from SFBG calling for that person to be out of office.

Posted by DNative on Apr. 05, 2012 @ 12:28 pm

I'm kind of curious to know what you mean by "true progressive" other than "someone who has the Bay Guardian's unalloyed support."

Posted by Guest on Apr. 13, 2012 @ 12:12 pm

This is about moderates removing a political rival. Shame on the anti-violence advocates for falling for this.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 05, 2012 @ 1:26 pm

how right you are

Posted by GuestChristine Craft on Apr. 06, 2012 @ 8:09 am

How come anybody not classified as "hard left" is called "moderate" in San Francisco Politics? Is it simply because there isn't anybody among them advocating school prayer and discrimination against gays?

Is "moderate" a term which can properly be said to describe those who are social liberals but pro-corporate lackeys when it comes to economics?

I think that those who serve corporate interests with such aplomb should *not* be called moderates.

Posted by lillipublicans on Apr. 06, 2012 @ 8:30 am

Are not scrambling to make excuses for one of their own.

The rationalisations and paranoid ravings around Mirkarimi are entertaining, your interesting description of moderates is also interesting, interesting because you are serving the interests of Mirkarimi's ego, with no gain to yourself but being a doctrinaire progressive.

Posted by mirkarimi on Apr. 07, 2012 @ 12:44 pm

Mr. Welch makes some good points, but he is wrong on one key fact. Ross Mirkarimi received 38% of the vote and the campaign went to the very last possible round of the "Instant" run-off process before he was elected.

Elected yes - but not with anything close to a majority. HIs final tally including first, second and third place votes was 86,000 - just 43% of the votes cast in the race for Sheriff.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 05, 2012 @ 1:34 pm

actually split the vote and allowed his election. Miyamoto- a total unknown actually came pretty close there. I am guess that if Cunnie hadn't jumped in he would have taken it.

Posted by DNative on Apr. 05, 2012 @ 1:46 pm

the voters who voted for one of them first, put Ross second, which was illogical.

But yes, over 60% of voters wanted a moderate, experienced law enforcement officer and not a far left career politician.

I don't even know why sheriff is an elected position.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 05, 2012 @ 3:41 pm

No such argument can be made as the election results preclude it. Specifically, Cunnie's voters did not as a bloc select Miyamoto as their 2nd choice. Some picked Mirkarimi, some did not vote. Mirkarimi won handily.

Posted by lillipublicans on Apr. 05, 2012 @ 3:51 pm

>"Mirkarimi didn't just win, he won big. He beat the second place candidate by nearly 19,000 votes, winning outright without the need for the magic of instant run-off."

That's just not true. He absolutely had to go through an instant run-off. You can see the results of it on the city's web site at:

The SFBG should print a correction on that one but I'm not going to hold my breath because the error was in favor of a Progressive.

And since Mr. Welch is so big on majority rule I would also point out that Mirkarimi only got 44% of the vote. 197K people voted for Sheriff and Mirkarimi wound up with 87K votes, including his instant run-off 2nd and 3rd place selections. Data is found in the link above.

In fact, 64% of the people who voted in the election wanted someone other than Mirkarimi to be Sheriff. One of the offshoots of ranked-choice voting is that it produces weak winners vulnerable to recalls and the like. See Quan, Jean.

Posted by Troll on Apr. 05, 2012 @ 1:49 pm

"That's just not true. He absolutely had to go through an instant run-off."

The point was that Mirkarimi was *by* *far* the number one first choice vote-getter, and based on the (in this case) *perfect* implementation of our flawed-yet-basically-good 1-2-3-place IRV system, he *certainly* would have won a run-off election if the same group of voters were to go to the polls on such an occasion.

You can massage the numbers in all the crafy ways you like, but the fact remains that Mirkarimi clearly won and that IRV played no part in it except for, in effect, having the run-off election on the same night. It wasn't at all like the case of Jean Quan in Oakland, who won after coming in second in the first round of IRV voting.

Posted by lillipublicans on Apr. 05, 2012 @ 2:11 pm

@lilipublican, Mr. Welch said that Mirkarimi won big and did not have to go through a run-off. That is is a significant statement that is just, plain, wrong.

Sorry that you consider the numbers to be massaged. I did provide a link back to where they came from on the city's election site.

And sorry about that truth thing, @lilpublican, especially since it works against a Progressive. Maybe that's why the Chronicle threw you off since there are plenty of people who post there who disagree with them. Maybe they just throw off the ones who ignore the truth just to hear themselves say things that don't make any sense? Just sayin!

Posted by Troll on Apr. 05, 2012 @ 2:56 pm

What about those who voted Miyamoto #1 and Cunnie #2 (or the inverse) and left the 3rd choice blank? They were effectively eliminated from the runoff.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 05, 2012 @ 3:01 pm

Actually, that's not a good example. :) I was trying to question whether the instant runoff system accurately measures the NOT Mirkarimi vote.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 05, 2012 @ 3:25 pm

Cunnie was the last one eliminated, with 53k votes. 14K of them went to Mirkarimi and 21K went to Miyamoto and 18K were thrown out becuase there was no 2nd or 3rd choice or the 2nd and 3rd choices existed but the candidates had already been eliminated.

I know; it makes no sense. Ranked choice voting isn't supposed to.

Posted by Troll on Apr. 05, 2012 @ 3:31 pm

I see you caught yourself, but you are still wondering. Let me assure you that in this case the (somewhat flawed) IRV system worked *perfectly* and it can be positively asserted that those who did not express a preference between Cunnie and Mirkarimi were certainly *not* expressing an "anti-Mirkarimi" sentiment.

Posted by lillipublicans on Apr. 05, 2012 @ 3:55 pm

The writer was making a point. The fact that his supporting statements are false are irrelevant inasmuch as he is supporting a Progressive. Don't listen to those Moderates who want the stated facts to agree with official records. Trolls.

Posted by Steroidal Progressive on Apr. 05, 2012 @ 3:05 pm

@ steroidal (?) progressive, the writer makes a point that I wouldn't have tried to make in that way, but is completely balanced -- and true -- when judged in context to the wild hyperbole of the anti-Mirkarimi cohort.

For instance, you are taking one case of what you claim to be a falsehood, and rendering it as "supporting statement(s) are false" -- how do *you* justify pluralizing it?

Mirkarimi got by far the most first place votes and -- by the logic cited earlier -- a far greater percentage of voters didn't want mayor Ed Lee to get elected than those opposed to Mirkarimi.

Posted by lillipublicans on Apr. 05, 2012 @ 3:18 pm