"This was such a wipeout psychologically": Mirkarimi tells the story Lee didn't want to hear

Ross Mirkarimi and family at his Jan. 9 inauguration, days after the scandal broke and four days before charges were filed
Luke Thomas/Fog City Journal

As Ross Mirkarimi and his legal team prepare for a trio of legal hearings that could determine the future of his career, the suspended sheriff sat down with the Guardian for nearly two hours in his first extended interview recounting what happened during that fateful New Year's Eve conflict with his wife, their actions in its aftermath, and whether any of it should cost him his job.

As the story continues to unfold, and the facts come out, it’s becoming more and more clear that neither of two central players – Mirkarimi’s wife, Eliana Lopez, and the neighbor who called the police, Ivory Madison – had any idea how this would play out, or, apparently, any desire for the incident to bring down the elected sheriff.

Mirkarimi has been in a bind for much of the last four months: Because of a pending criminal case, he hasn’t been able to tell his side of the story. And since he pled guilty instead of going to trial, his version of events is only now beginning to trickle out.

And the interview made clear that the man who has in the past been accused of arrogance has lost a lot of his ego.

“This was such a wipeout psychologically,” Mirkarimi said. “It makes me immensely insecure and has left me in vulnerable state.”

He looks it – the elected sheriff’s face is drawn, almost haggard. His once-frequent smile and laughter is almost gone.

>>Read our full Mirkarimi coverage here.

He’s a politician who freely admits he had marital troubles, was in some ways a bad husband, treated his wife poorly and, in an incident sparked by his own anger, physically hurt her. He knows he’s let down his supporters and damaged his once-bright political future.

He’s struggling to keep his job, arguing that the incident has been blown out of proportion and inappropriately used to remove him from elected office, with Mayor Ed Lee showing a reckless disregard for the truth before making the rare decision to institute official misconduct proceedings.

And you don’t have to endorse Mirkarimi’s actions or even agree that he should stay in office to find indications that the mayor’s case against him is shaky and at times clearly unfair.

Judge Harold Kahn will hear arguments today [April 19] that the City Attorney's Office should be barred for overseeing the official conduct proceedings, and the next day he will hear Mirkarimi's main challenges to Lee's actions, including the arguments that the city's official misconduct statute is unconstitutionally broad and that Mirkarimi was denied due process before being suspended without pay.

Then, on April 23, the Ethics Commission will convene to discuss procedures for handling the case.

Some key issues that could affect the outcomes of the city and court processes involve what Mirkarimi actually did – as opposed to what others have suggested he did. The whole thing may hinge on whether the sheriff did anything to hinder the domestic violence investigation, what his plea deal to official misconduct entailed – and whether the mayor made efforts to differentiate between fact and rumor.  

But let's start at the beginning, just before lunchtime on New Year's Eve, with a story that Mirkarimi told in great detail as we peppered him with questions seeking details on what happened, what his motivations and thoughts were at critical junctures, and what it all meant.

Around 11:45 am on Dec. 31, Mirkarimi, Lopez, and their nearly three-year-old son, Theo, got into their red 1998 Dodge Caravan to go to lunch at Delfina Pizzeria. Just before leaving their house on Webster Street, the couple had started talking about how Lopez wanted to take Theo on a trip to her native Venezuela to visit her father, who is battling cancer.

“It was not an unfamiliar topic,” Mirkarimi said, recounting how it had become an issue of increasing concern by him after her three previous trips had each been extended. They had been having marital problems, and he told us he was concerned that she might not come back – or that Theo could be at risk of kidnapping.

“We didn't have a plan and there was no permission,” Mirkarimi said, with “permission” meaning his written permission to take their son out of the country, which he had learned from a lawyer was required. “The body of our quarrel on Dec. 31 is we need a plan.”

But Lopez told him in the car than she had also talked to an attorney and she contested that it was as clear-cut as Mirkarimi claimed. He later learned that the “attorney” Lopez was referring to was their neighbor, Ivory Madison, a writer who had attended law school and noted her “legal training” on the www.redroom.com website she ran with her husband, lawyer Abraham Mertens. But Madison hadn't taken the bar exam and wasn’t licensed to practice law in California.

“This was a sucker punch, it really walloped me,” Mirkarimi said of the news that Lopez was speaking with an attorney, and it made him angry. “I was acting inappropriately, I swore at my wife and said ‘where is this coming from?' So I could have handled it better.”

“I decided, because we were quarreling, to make the unilateral decision against Eliana's wishes to turn the car around,” he said.

This, he contends, was the act that constituted false imprisonment, the misdemeanor charge that he pled guilty to last month in exchange for prosecutors dropping misdemeanor charges of domestic violence, dissuading a witness, and child endangerment. Mirkarimi contends this was the only point in their conflict in which he restrained his wife's freedom. Other reports suggest that he didn't let her leave the house shortly after the conflict, which he denies.

Mirkarimi’s criminal attorney, Lidia Stiglich, told us false imprisonment is a very broad term, and because it was such low-level charge, there wasn't a specific action it covered. In other words there’s nothing factual in the legal record or anywhere supporting the notion that Mirkarimi actually held his wife against her will.

“You don't need to agree to a factual basis to plead to a misdemeanor,” Stiglich said, noting that Mirkarimi's interpretation is reasonable, but prosecutors might mean something different by it. “We can agree to disagree,” she said, although she acknowledges that vagueness has opened him up to a variety of interpretations in the political arena.

In other words, the notion that a sheriff, who oversees the jails, has pled guilty of false imprisonment looks just terrible, and has been been played up in the press. But it’s not clear that he actually imprisoned anyone, beyond refusing to take his wife and son to lunch. It’s an oddity of law, and the nuance doesn’t play well in a scandal-crazed media.  

But back to the day of the incident.

“I was loud, I was gruff, I was just pissed off, and I am ashamed of my behavior,” Mirkarimi said. By the time they got back home, the sheriff-elect had calmed down, but Lopez was getting increasingly angry at being mistreated.

He said she quickly got out of the car and was brusquely trying to remove Theo, who was crying and upset over his parents' conflict, from his car seat. “I got scared because Theo was in danger a little bit,” he said, his voice choking up and eyes filled with tears, saying that he reached back and grabbed Lopez's right arm, with three fingers under her arm, while he was still seatbelted into the front seat.

“Eliana reacted like, get away from me, and she tugged her arm,” he said. “The incident was minutes.”

Inside the house, tensions quickly de-escalated, he said, and they didn't discuss the conflict again that day. They went grocery shopping together, brought home takeout for dinner, and Lopez went out briefly that night while Mirkarimi stayed home with their son.

But the next morning, she showed him the bruise that had formed on her right bicep where he grabbed her. “She said, 'Look,' and it just crushed me,” Mirkarimi said, adding that he apologized for hurting her and that he agreed to go to couples counseling.

Lopez had been asking her husband to seek counseling for some time, he acknowledged, and he’d been putting it off. “I take full blame that that didn't happen earlier,” he said.

Then, mid-morning, Lopez told him that she was going to talk with their neighbors, Madison and Mertens, who Mirkarimi considered “nice people. They were supporters during my race, but I didn't know them that well.” He said that he didn't think much of it or worry that she might talk about the previous day's incident, although he said he did make the connection after she left that perhaps this was the “lawyer” Lopez has referred to the day before – something she later confirmed.

From Mirkarimi's perspective, the next few days were uneventful. The family left for a long-planned vacation to Monterey the next day, staying at the Intercontinental Hotel and taking Theo to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. He said they talked “a little” about their New Year's Eve conflict. “We were trying to gauge each other and our comfort level in talking about this,” he said. 

But Mirkarimi didn't know about the storm that was brewing. He said he had no idea that Lopez had heeded Madison's suggestion on Jan. 1 to make a video in which Lopez tearfully recounted the grabbing incident and displayed her bruise. Lopez, a former Venezuelan soap opera star, has consistently denied publicly that Mirkarimi ever abused her and has said, directly and through attorney Paula Canny, that the video was intended solely to be used in child custody proceedings if their marriage continued to devolve and that Lopez assumed she was getting legal advice and that the communications were private and subject to attorney-client privilege.

But Madison, who has not returned calls from the Guardian or other media outlets, wrestled with whether to go to the police and sought counsel on the question from several people, as information obtained by Mirkarimi's team during discovery showed, including Phil Bronstein, the former editor for the Examiner and Chronicle who now chairs the board of the Center for Investigation and Bay Citizen.

Madison had two phone conversations with Bronstein, the veteran journalist told us. He said he knew Madison socially and “she gave me a brief narrative of the events.

“I said you should do whatever you think you should do to keep Eliana safe,” Bronstein told us.

Bronstein said he doesn't know what happened between Mirkarimi and Lopez, but he understood from Madison that she was acting on behalf of Lopez, that the two women were communicating by text and e-mail, and that “I got the impression that Eliana was still trying to figure out what she wanted to do.”

“Eliana was continuing to e-mail with Ivory, saying he was being nicer now,” Bronstein said, but Madison was still concerned enough that she didn't want to let the incident go, so Bronstein said she decided to call the San Francisco Police Department on Jan. 4 to get information on whether domestic violence incidents could be reported several days after they occurred, a decision he learned about after the fact.

“Ivory called the police hotline hypothetically to get information on when they can file,” Bronstein said, recounting a phone conversation they had on the afternoon of Jan. 4. But he said Madison was told by police that she could be charged with obstruction of justice for not reporting a crime – which isn't exactly true under California law – and that SFPD had sent officers to her house to discuss the matter.

Shortly after that visit from police, Madison called Bronstein to tell him the story. “She was surprised that an inquiry had triggered a police investigation,” Bronstein said. Madison's initial refusal to turn the videotape over to police, who needed a court order to seize it, is another indication that perhaps she didn't want this case to explode the way it did.

In one version of events that Bronstein has discussed, Madison told him she wanted to help Lopez get in touch with three people who might be able to talk to Mirkarimi and convince him to seek counseling. Madison asked Bronstein if he had phone numbers for Aaron Peskin, Mike Hennessey and Art Agnos.

The odd thing about that is that Lopez already knew the three, and that their contact information was in the couple’s house.

But Mirkarimi had no idea any of this was going on, or even that his wife had discussed their conflict with Madison and made the videotape. “Everything happened on the 4th of January and literally I was the last one to know,” Mirkarimi told us.

Months later, Mertens wrote an op-ed for the Chronicle (“A neighbor's side of Ross Mirkarimi case,” 3/20) in which he alleges Mirkarimi “paid a team of lawyers to relentlessly attempt to discredit, dissuade, and harm my wife,” although he didn't return Guardian calls seeking comment or clarification of what he meant.

“The last time I spoke to Eliana was when she called me on Jan. 4. I recognized what I thought was Ross' voice in the background as Eliana pressured me to destroy evidence and lie to the police. Then she repeatedly called Ivory, demanding that Ivory destroy the video, e-mail and texts from Eliana about the incident,” Mertens wrote. The allegation was parroted in the city's official misconduct charges against Mirkarimi, which claim he “or his agents” sought to destroy evidence and obstruct the investigation.

But Mirkarimi and his lawyers say the charge is simply untrue. “The idea that he sought to get the videotape back or destroy it is nonsense,” Waggoner said, noting that Mirkarimi wasn't even home as these events unfolded – on that fateful January day, he attended a ceremony marking the demolition of the old jail and then was in a long Budget Committee meeting, followed by a farewell celebration from the Local Agency Formation Commission. In other words, he couldn't have been “in the background” during that call.

In fact, as far as we can tell, there is no evidence anywhere that Mirkarimi ever contacted Madison or Mertens. “I never talked to Ivory Madison and I never talked to her husband, Abraham Mertens, after any of this happened,” Mirkarimi said.

Mirkarimi said that Lopez first told him that she had told Madison about the grabbing incident by phone on the afternoon of Jan. 4, shortly after Madison told her in the street that she had called the police and they were on the way. Lopez didn't know what to do and wanted to come meet her husband near City Hall. The officers that came tried to talk to Lopez, but she refused.

“She was panicked because she thought things were getting out of control with this neighbor and she asked for my recommendation,” Mirkarimi said, noting that Lopez literally ran from their home to City Hall and met Mirkarimi outside on Grove Street. It was then, he said, that Lopez first told Mirkarimi about making the videotape.

Mirkarimi said he greeted the news with stunned disbelief, and that his first instinct was to try to help his panic-stricken wife, but that he didn't know what to do. “She was petrified about what was going on...She was frantic and I was getting frantic too,” he said. “I didn't have a remedy, except oh my God, I think we need an attorney.”

They made a couple calls to find an attorney, and he said Lopez had the idea of having their friend, Linnette Peralta Haynes, a domestic violence advocate with the Our Family Coalition, reach out to Madison about why she had gone to police and what could be done at that point. “I had no idea what they were going to talk about,” Mirkarimi claims. Peralta Haynes didn't return our calls and she is reportedly being sought as a witness by the City Attorney's Office in the official misconduct proceedings.

Mirkarimi is adamant that he never did anything to gain possession of the videotape, dissuade his wife or any other witnesses from talking to police or prosecutors, or otherwise interfere with the investigation, even though Lopez was appealing to him to do something.

“She really wanted me to stop it, and I was like, dear, this bell has already rung and I don't think we can unring it,” Mirkarimi said.

Lopez has said publicly that she felt betrayed by Madison, and Canny filed motions to suppress the video on the grounds of attorney-client privilege, conflicts that seem to have soured the relationship between the two women and fed feelings by Mertens that Madison was wronged for doing the right thing during the media circus that followed.

As a result, as part of Mirkarimi's plea deal last month, the District Attorney's Office insisted that Mirkarimi publicly apologize to Madison. It was an odd demand, since nobody (other than an op-ed writer in the Chron who gave no substantiation for his charges) had ever said that Mirkarimi had any contact at all with Madison.

DA's spokesperson Stephanie Ong Stillman explained the insistence to us this way: “Ivory Madison's actions were courageous. She found herself in a difficult situation trying to protect a friend who was in danger. In a surprising and disappointing turn, she was vilified for this act of courage. She suffered much unnecessary public scrutiny.”

Stillman wouldn't deviate from that prepared statement when we asked specifically what Mirkarimi had done to Madison – or if there was any indication that the sheriff had ever done anything to “vilify” her – but she did said that the insistence on that direct apology was about encouraging witnesses of domestic violence, an underreported crime, to come forward. “We didn't want other witnesses to be discouraged from reporting crimes after seeing what Ivory Madison went through,” she said.

Yet Stiglich said Canny's motions and the divisions that developed between Lopez and Madison had nothing to do with Mirkarimi: “There were lot of actions taken by Eliana's lawyers that caused a backlash that affected Ross.”

It’s not a minor issue: The allegation that Mirkarimi attempted to dissuade witnesses and used his official position to gain advantage is central to the mayor’s formal misconduct charges. But Mirkarimi and Stiglich maintain that there is nothing in the public record that supports the charge that he dissuaded witnesses or that he used his position as sheriff to gain advantage either before or after the incident.

“I was very surprised to see the allegation from the Mayor's Office about dissuasion [of witnesses or interfering with the investigation] because there was no evidence of that,” Stiglich said. “He was the last person to know there was a video and that police were involved.”

It appears that Mirkarimi thought his guilty plea would end the case – and it was crafted not to give the mayor any grounds for removal. “I would not have entered a plea in a way that would inhibit my ability to be sheriff,” Mirkarimi said. “This was a very lucid conversation.”

In fact, he said, his instinct was to fight the charges all the way. “We were dying to go to trial,” Mirkarimi said.

But the cops and the DA’s Office did an excellent job of creating pre-trial publicity that made it almost impossible for Mirkarimi to get an impartial jury pool. Jury surveys showed that more than 70 percent of the potential jurors had already formed a negative opinion about Mirkarimi based on news coverage, he said.  

He has belatedly sought to address other oft-repeated misimpressions, disputing telling his wife that he would get custody because “I am a powerful man” (he says he told her the U.S. has powerful child custody laws) and saying journalists have distorted his comment that the conflict was “a private matter.”

In a charge that will be central to the upcoming legal battles, Mirkarimi and his attorneys say Mayor Lee wasn't interested in hearing from Mirkarimi or discovering the truth about what happened before deciding to suspend Mirkarimi without pay and bring official misconduct charges against him. That, they say, denied the elected sheriff his due-process rights.

In his sworn affidavit in the case, Lee characterized his March 19 meeting with Mirkarimi – which he began by asking Mirkarimi to resign within 24 hours or be suspended – this way: “I explained to Sheriff Mirkarimi that I wanted to give him an opportunity to talk to me about this issue. It was a free flowing conversation with no time constraints. Sheriff Mirkarimi told me that he has not yet told his side of the story. I said, Okay, and waited for him to tell me his side of the story. He did not. Instead, after pausing, he asked me whether the suspension was based on his conduct as Sheriff. I responded that it was based on his conduct as a public official. I paused again and waited for Sheriff Mirkarimi to give me whatever information he thought important. He did not. Instead, Sheriff Mirkarimi asked me whether the suspension would be with or without pay. I told him it would be without pay. After giving him another chance to ask questions or give more information, I told Mr. Mirkarimi to consider my instruction to resign over the next 24 hours.”

But Mirkarimi said that narrative isn't accurate or complete. He had sought to talk with Lee the previous week to explain what happened, but Lee refused. And when he showed up to talk to Lee on the March 19, he brought Sheriff's Department legal counsel Freya Horne with him and asked that she be included in the conversation, but Lee refused, so there were no witnesses to the conversation.

“I went into that meeting with the express purpose to tell the mayor everything...As soon as I walk in the door, he gives me a little bit of preamble and then asks me to resign,”Mirkarimi said. “I said I'd really like you to talk to Eliana, can I give you her phone number? Nothing...I was asking questions and I wasn't getting answers.”

Asked why he didn't just start telling the full story, as Lee's narrative indicates he was ready to hear, Mirkarimi insists that Lee simply informed him of the decision he had made and didn't want to hear anything else. “He wanted the meeting to end after a minute, and I dragged it out by asking questions,” Mirkarimi said of the 15-minute meeting. Asked why he didn't take a more forceful position, insisting on Horne being there or telling his full story, Mirkarimi said, “I'm the guy who's trying to be contrite, not the one to walk in there with muscle.”

But now that those lines have been drawn, Mirkarimi says he intends to mount a vigorous defense, and he has some serious muscle on his legal team, including Waggoner and Shepard Kopp, who has worked on a variety of high profile cases.

Waggoner said the mayor's affidavit, which he made under penalty of perjury, “is not truthful,” noting the inconsistency between telling Mirkarimi that he had made a decision to suspend him and saying he wanted to hear his side of story.

“That claim is undermined by his statements after when he describes how the meeting went down,” Waggoner said, saying he's hopeful that the courts will agree that Lee acted inappropriately. “All that language undermines his initial claim that the purpose of the meeting was to gather information.”

That’s a central question: Did the mayor give the sheriff a chance to defend himself before making the highly unusual decision to suspend him? Or did Lee base that decision on evidence (like Mertens' opinion piece) that lacked substantiation without giving Mirkarimi a chance to rebut it?

In other words, was Lee’s decision already made when he met with Mirkarimi? And if so, did the city’s chief executive deny another elected official the basic legal right to a fair hearing?

That’s what the courts will address.

Then if the case moves forward, the Ethics Commission will hold hearings –and again, Mirkarimi is at a disadvantage. The Mayor’s Office, through the city attorney, is already sending subpoenas to witnesses and preparing testimony. The defense can’t do that – because there are, at this point, no rules of evidence, no rights for the defense to compel testimony and, frankly, nothing for Mirkarimi’s lawyers to go on.

Four of the five members of the Ethics Commission are lawyers. At some point, they’re going to have to find a way to make this case comply to the rule of law.


From the Ethics staff memo to the commissioners on how to proceed with the Mirkarimi hearing:

"The Commission should not strictly enforce the Evidence Code.”

Further, the memo also states that any evidence or statements should be filed first, and then the commission will not consider any information that wasn’t first filed. So Mirkarimi’s side can’t respond to info from the city attorney because they won’t have seen it in advance, and if they don’t bring it up in advance, it can’t be addressed. Classic catch-22.

Also there will be no opportunity to cross-examine anyone except if the commissioners themselves have questions.

I ask you, have you ever seen a kangaroo court? Now you will.

Posted by CitiReport on Apr. 19, 2012 @ 11:08 am

Can you say "tempest in a teapot" as well as "kangaroo court"?

Sheriff Mirkarimi is no dummy and he should go to marriage counseling, probably. Yet, does the public really care about the bruise and domestic quarrels? I hate to see Mirkarmini future crash and burn like this and I think the public would rather hope to have public servants doing their jobs instead of suing each other.

In the end, will this bring down Mayor Lee? Of course it will if Mirkarimi's lawyers are any good. And that might not be all bad.

Posted by Vicki Olds on Apr. 22, 2012 @ 4:40 pm

thinks will help him the most in his future struggles is a key impediment to believing him. I suspect this "version" has been carefully sanitized and screened by his lawyers, so the diea that he is being totally candid seems remote.

Maybe we will get the real story one day but I'm more inlcined to believe Lopez than Ross. He's a politician, after all.

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


""But the next morning, she showed him the bruise that had formed on her right bicep where he grabbed her. “She said, 'Look,' and it just crushed me,” Mirkarimi said, adding that he apologized for hurting her and that he agreed to go to couples counseling.""

So, they kissed and made up that morning. And then Elena decided to visit the neighbor women. Where she made her crying, weeping, 2-minute speech, worrying that her husband was violent and would beat her.

Somebody is not telling the truth.

Posted by Troll the XIV on Apr. 19, 2012 @ 11:13 am

See, that's the thing. If you cannot control yourself, sometimes you set in motion consequences - fair or not - that you do not want. Once that's happened, even in the case of an "overblown" reaction from others, you can't really cry that it's "unfair." I've seen many people invite drama, and then complain about the result. Bad results are an inherent risk of drama.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 19, 2012 @ 1:33 pm

After awhile people stop paying attention, then when people who don't know you take you seriously things go bad?

Posted by Guest on Apr. 19, 2012 @ 3:12 pm

"""Madison asked Bronstein if he had phone numbers for Aaron Peskin, Mike Hennessey and Art Agnos.""

Interesting about these three. Peskin has told Mirkarimi to resign. Hennessey has been completely mum on the subject (why? his opinion would certainly be valuable), and Agnos has fully supported Ross.

My question: Why has nobody in the progressive leadership (Agnos and Walker aside) publicly stood up and defended Ross?

In my opninion, he is digging himself into a deeper hole by proceeding with this. He is embarassing himself. He's a smart guy. He will get a job. Losing his sheriff's badge is not the end of the world.

Posted by Troll the XIV on Apr. 19, 2012 @ 11:21 am

Hennessey has stood up for Ross. He said that he has had several employees with records who have done an excellent job in the Sheriff's Dept. He saw no reason why Ross should step down as sheriff. Get your facts straight.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 19, 2012 @ 6:11 pm

1. They are disgusted with his behavior and sincerely want him out.

2. They are afraid of the political fallout. If Ross survives this move to get him out, there will likely be a recall attempt. Who wants to go to bat for Ross just to get smeared with it in November and have your face on an anti-Ross mailer?

3. For the BoS- they really do need to keep quiet to at least have the appearance of being neutral and waiting for the Ethics report.

Posted by Dnative on Apr. 19, 2012 @ 8:06 pm

"mayor’s case against him is shaky and at times clearly unfair."
Since when has anything in life been fair? This is not about being fair.

Also Mirkarimi lied on forum, he did say it was a Private Matter; it’s on tape and has been well reported. He is lying on this, so what else is he lying about?

Posted by Chris Pratt on Apr. 19, 2012 @ 11:28 am

Our legal system is based on fairness, the rights of the accused, and standards of evidence. To dismiss those things as irrelevant is to dismiss civil society and the rule of law, which are things that I thought you believed in, Chris.

Posted by steven on Apr. 19, 2012 @ 12:12 pm

May be I am splitting hairs, I think very little in life is fair, look at the ecomonic justice in society. I very much believe in a civil society, but I don't think is based on what is fair; rather a set of rules to keep the majority in line. It makes my life safe but not fair.

Posted by Chris Pratt on Apr. 19, 2012 @ 12:35 pm

Life and society is not intrinsically fair but then it's not clear that things would be better if they were. America has always been a very unfair and unequal society, and yet it has become easily the most successful nation on the planet.

Denmark is much "fairer" but, er, so what? Everyone ignores them.

And when society is not fair, it often works out OK anyway. Generally speaking, society does what it needs to do to maintain itself and sometimes shortcuts are necessary for the greater good. Rights are relative, not absolute, and if in the end the majority are happy and better off, then I think that almost all of us can reasonable overlook the odd injustice here and there.

Ultimately, there are more important things than rights and fairness.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 19, 2012 @ 12:55 pm

I agree that life isn't always fair, which is why we strive to make it more fair, whether through our Bill of Rights, the courts, or journalistic efforts. To simply accept that the man we elected sheriff will be treated unfairly by the mayor is really giving up more than I'm willing to, and the principle involved here is more important than the fate of one man. We have a right to expect fairness in this and other matters of public interest, and our role as journalists is to point out when people are being treated unfairly as that the system can't improve and evolve toward something that is more fair than what we have now. If I accept that life is fundamentally unfair and there's nothing that can be done about it then I should probably get out of the journalism business.

Posted by steven on Apr. 19, 2012 @ 1:53 pm

He was granted a speedy trial and the right to representation, which led to a compromise conviction and sentence where all parties got something.

He was not jailed or given any cruel and unusual punishment.

He retained the right to free speech, as evidenced by his ability to speak to you.

The only issue is whether Lee had the right to fire Ross and most SF'ers appear to believe that that was fair too. How can the man in charge of the prisons be guilty of false imprisonment? It beggars belief.

The issue wasn't Ross's conviction but the fact that he is part of LE. If he were the chief of DBI or Planning, it might not matter.

Ross retains the right to appeal this and fight for his job. The system is working exactly as it should. Isn't the real point, Steven, that Ross is one of yours? Would you be screaming from the rooftops if this had been Willie or Gavin? No, not in a million years and, in fact, you'd probably be arguing the exact opposite.

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

"I believe that Ross has been treated fairly"--what planet is this poster on? Did he/she just read the full account here in the Guardian? By what measure is a media onslaught that gives only the D.A.'s leaking bucket of "evidence," a judge whose partner in life was a major consultant for Ross's opponent not recusing herself, a D.A. who was on Ross's opponent's side and with many conflicts of interest not only not recusing himself but doing everything possible to vilify and persecute Ross? I mean, this D.A. had six, count 'em, six investigators combing Ross's block interviewing potential "witnesses" (to a misdemeanor!) when the D.A. does not even employ six investigators for major murder cases? Then the Chronicle, using a neighbor's hearsay, decides that based on that hearsay, Ross should go? Is that fair? How about that horrible "columnist" C.W. Neversmart using that as the basis for saying Ross should go? He didn't backtrack and say, wait a minute, the neighbor might be wrong in this.

How about the crazy DV group that insists that no matter what Eliana says or does, she is portraying classic DV victim symptoms or behaviour? It is farcical--if it weren't so tragic.

I hate everything that has happened in this case from the beginning. What couples don't have horrible fights they wish they could take back? Ross grabbed Eliana's arm--it was an accidental bruise, an accident! And he has to go through all this? It's a disgusting display of public philistinism that we are still talking about this and that Ross is still dealing with it. I wish him all success in fighting the outrageous charges and suspension. Godspeed, Ross!

Posted by Guest on Apr. 19, 2012 @ 4:13 pm

And believe nothing that the cops, the DA or the Mayor says?

Could you be any more biased?

You are judging the entire matter based on whether you happen to agree with Ross's politics.

The bruise was no accident. It was a deliberate act of force and violence, which his wife clearly states on the video. The photo's show the extent of the marks and that would have taken a considerable application of force to have caused.

And why criticize the neighbor who was public-spirited enough to come forward with this, even though she politically supported Ross and was his friend and neighbor?

If anything, Ross has had an easy ride here. if only because he has thrown money at this rather than taken it like a man.

Ross is done, this topic is done, time to move on.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 19, 2012 @ 5:06 pm

It would be fair to appoint a progressive mayor when replacing a moderate mayor.

It would be unfair appointing a moderate to Mirkarimi's old seat when it was just held by a progressive.

"fairness" is about getting over and what works at the moment.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 19, 2012 @ 3:17 pm

And if you aren't on meds, then maybe you should be, because if that post is indicative of your mental abilities, there just isn't much there. If you can't make a coherent argument, and only can utter the prejudices floating around your brain, do everyone a favor don't pollute the mb with such noise.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 19, 2012 @ 11:37 pm
Posted by Matlock on Apr. 20, 2012 @ 12:08 am

Was to report the news and give both sides of the story with out showing an obvious slant/opinion. As usual- fail. The Bay Guardian is as fair and balanced as Fox News.

Posted by Dnative on Apr. 19, 2012 @ 8:07 pm

>The Bay Guardian is as fair and balanced as Fox News.

No way...Fox News is Switzerland compared to the SFBG.

The SFBG isn't even good at being biased, they are so predictable and transparent. I just read this stuff for yucks. I want the Progressive movement to be dead and buried and watching that become a reality is so much more fun when you read the desperate SFBG play-by-play.

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

How is this his "first extended interview"? He was on KQED yesterday and apparently had a telephonic interview with the Chronicle yesterday, too.

Posted by The Commish on Apr. 19, 2012 @ 11:29 am

This interview was conducted on Tuesday, before he talked to KQED or the Chron, but it took us some time to reach Bronstein and others to corroborate or bring other perspectives to parts of his story.

Posted by steven on Apr. 19, 2012 @ 11:54 am

Got it. Thx.

Posted by The Commish on Apr. 19, 2012 @ 12:07 pm

This account doesn't seem particularly helfpul to him. He describes himself as "immensely insecure and has left me in vulnerable state." People will ask whether we want a Sheriff in that psychological state? And this isn't a helfpul admission: he "was in some ways a bad husband, treated his wife poorly and, in an incident sparked by his own anger, physically hurt her."

I am still perplexed why he didn't give a sanitized "mea culpa" (without all the admissions this article contains) from the outset. He probably would have saved his career, and a lot of attorneys' fees.

Posted by The Commish on Apr. 19, 2012 @ 12:06 pm

In the KQED story (for which there is a public tape) Mirkarimi says that Eliana was getting out of the car to get the child and he reached out to 'guide her' back into the front seat to help defuse the situation. In the SFBG version she is emotionally trying to unbuckle the child and he grabs her arm out of concern for the child's safety.

Two different stories...I personally think that he should stick with the KQED version. Although 'guide' seems like a horrible euphemism. If the SFBG version was told first then perhaps there is a legal reason why he tried the second version with KQED.

Posted by Troll on Apr. 19, 2012 @ 12:32 pm

How about a moratorium on ink expended to get Ross his job back? This creep should move along and find something else to do.

Posted by Jammy DD on Apr. 19, 2012 @ 12:41 pm

Progressive to ever win a city-wide office. The voters of SF just aren't as left-wing as the SFBG would like to believe.

So finally a leftie wins something, albeit not that important an office, and then, bingo, he immediatley self-destructs. So now you see this huge rearguard effort to try and remedy a doomed situation. It looks hopeless for Tim and Steven but, realistically, what else can they do? To accept the inevitable would leave them feeling even worse.

I almost feel sorry for the pair of them. Backed into a corner like trapped rats, thrashing away in despair.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 19, 2012 @ 12:59 pm

"The voters of SF just aren't as left-wing as the SFBG would like to believe."

Again, based on the last election and the Department of Elections, we don't know that because the majority of "voters of SF" did not vote. You seem to have a mental block when it comes to grasping "voter turnout" and that percentage. Now what was the voter turnout again? I've already posted it.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 19, 2012 @ 7:52 pm

If people who are registered to vote, but then choose not to do so, are they really voters?

Posted by D. native on Apr. 20, 2012 @ 4:52 pm

I'm sorry. I can't read another twisted word about this issue, but for some reason, I still do. Media torture.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 19, 2012 @ 12:53 pm

It's fairly obviously that the Democratic Party Machine is out to get this progressive elected official because more than anything else, Ross symbolizes change that is a direct challenge to the corrupt status quo. What do you expect from a Mayor who promised that he would not run for office if appointed. San Francisco ranks among the top five corrupt Cities in the U.S. Willie Brown was notorious for his rigged elections, missing ballot boxes that became a public joke. And they had to import Al Gore and Bill Clinton to stump for Gavin Newsom prior to stealing the election from Matt Gonzalez. I hope Ross wins his suit, regains his job and countersues all the thugs who've ganged up against him in prosecuting him in the press. Including the assholes next door. Unbelievable!!

Posted by Stephen Willis on Apr. 19, 2012 @ 12:53 pm

He simply said that, at the time he was asked, that he had no intention to run, which is quite different. No promise, no lie, just a change of mind and heart.

And the fact that he won by a landslide shows that the people were behind him. Having a problem with democracy when it doesn't work out your way?

Newsom "stole" his election? Really? Er, evidence?

Posted by Guest on Apr. 19, 2012 @ 1:01 pm

It took 12 rounds to get Ed Lee above 50 percent. Twelve.

And even then, he never tallied as many votes as Ross did. He was short several thousand from Ross’ total. In fact, Ross won after three rounds, and each time had more votes than Lee did.

So I guess that means Ross won by a HUGE landslide, right?

And your point was what? Oh, that’s right. You had no point. You just rambled without regard to facts.

Posted by CitiReport on Apr. 19, 2012 @ 2:35 pm

You are trying to compare apples and oranges here with who got more votes. Lee was in a race with over a dozen fairly well known competitors. Ross had two other major competitors. Of course Ross got more "votes" than Lee did and Lee had more rounds to go through, because there was more competition. Notice I put "votes" in quotation marks because of the goofy way we do this idiotic ranked choice voting. Unless one wins outright without the ranked choice thing, it is impossible to say ANYONE had a landslide.

Posted by Dnative on Apr. 19, 2012 @ 2:53 pm


Lee won by 60%-40% over Avalos. The common convention for declaring a landslide is 60%.

Mirkarimi won by 54%-44% over Miyamoto. Not sure why you are saying that 54% is more than 60% (other than the obvious point that it was the Progresive who got the 54%).

Lee had 15 opponents, Mirkarimi had 3 so yes, given the highly inefficient system of Ranked Choice Voting it took Lee longer to eliminate 15 opponents than it did for Mirkarimi to eliminate 3.

Do you want to tell us anymore about rambling 'without regard to facts'?

Posted by Troll on Apr. 19, 2012 @ 3:07 pm

Lee scored over 60% i.e. he got 50% more votes than Avalos. That is huge.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 19, 2012 @ 3:36 pm

The majority of voters did not vote for Mayor Pak-Brown-Lee...or anyone. (The voter turnout for that election was 42.47%). The majority of registered voters apparently have had enough of all of it! (including myself).

From the Department of Elections:
Last Updated: November 22, 2011 13:33:42
Total Registration and Turnout
Registration 464380
Total Ballots Cast 197242
Turnout 42.47%

So you can stop continually spamming this site with "Over 60% of voters" rhetoric (implying that Mayor Pak-Brown-Lee has some "majority" in love with him). It ain't true, troll. Nearly 60% of registered voters couldn't care less or are sick of it all (I expect it's the latter).

Posted by Guest on Apr. 19, 2012 @ 5:33 pm

I guess we can say the same thing about Ross.

Posted by D. native on Apr. 19, 2012 @ 6:42 pm

"By your logic"

No, it's by the Department of Elections. I don't tabulate votes; they do.

The majority of registered voters did not vote for Ross either. The majority of registered voters did not vote for anyone.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 19, 2012 @ 7:03 pm

Are they really voters?

Posted by D. native on Apr. 20, 2012 @ 4:54 pm

i watched all that as it unfolded. the whole point to getting an interim mayor was to find someone with no intention to run. but looking back, it might have been a better idea to have this person sign a pledge that they would not run....but that's what was verbally understood.

the fact that he won had a lot to do with incumbency, and maybe the asian community standing as a bloc behind him. Incumbency does count for a lot, especially with a sleeping public, alas.

i still have a bad feeling in my mouth about that whole thing...i watched the proceedings, as well as mr lee's body language when asked to confirm that he would not run. slimy...real slimy.

Posted by Daniele E. on Apr. 25, 2012 @ 9:46 am

to getting an interim mayor was to have a mayor. Gavin, the elected mayor was leaving office and the City needed a mayor for a year. Now all the hacks down at City hall certainly did not want a rival getting the job so they tried to make sure that they got someone who would not run. Ooops. Personally I loved it. Basically all the anger over Ed Lee running was that the never elected mayor, new to the system had beaten them all at their own game. Awesome.

And of course- you have some sour grapes- "a sleeping public" If only everyone would just listen to you and then they would know better. I couldn't be because people looked at the candidates and decided they liked the policies and behavior etc. of Lee better.

Posted by Dnative on Apr. 25, 2012 @ 10:19 am

What is "fairly obvious" about your assertion that the "Democratic Party Machine is out get this progessive elected official because more than anything else, Ross symbolizes change that is a direct challenge the corrupt status quo"?

What is the basis for your statement that San Francisco ranks among the "top five corrupt Cities in the U.S." ?

What is the basis for your statement that Gavin Newsom "stole" the election from Matt Gonzales?

What would be the basis for any "countersuit" against the press?

Ask yourself why no progressive Board members, or any other progressives, have come out with any support for Mirkarimi in his current situation.


Posted by Guest on Apr. 19, 2012 @ 1:18 pm


When there is general acceptance of such a high level of corruption in City Elections, and a thoroughly politicized and corrupt Ethics Commission that would never dare take on the stolen ballots issue under Mayor Brown, why would you think any election since the late nineties was legitimate? Did you ever hear the Committee on Jobs, or SPUR, or Don Solem and Associates, or the DCCC itself EVER promote the idea of election reform? Why not? I'll tell you why. They like how it worked under Brown, and Newsom (Brown Junior) and they're glad it slammed Matt out ot the way because he was too damned bright and was getting too much accomplished for the People. He was a threat to the 1% the San Francisco Oligarchs who remain in firm control of The City and the Democratic Party Machine. That Ross was even elected was a fluke and they are only glad to have an excuse to take him out. They must not have been able to steal enough ballots to take him out at the polls, so they're doing it now. If Ross wins, those fearful Progressives should work on a Mayoral Recall Election and boot Lee out. I"m sure Willie could find a another good job for him! LOL

Posted by Stephen Willis on Apr. 19, 2012 @ 3:58 pm

Matt Gonzalez has been kissing Lee's ass lately and Mayor Brown's too. He might have been a progressive at one time, but these days, he's little more than a sell out. See for yourself...



Posted by Guest on Apr. 19, 2012 @ 6:24 pm

I agree with you. I've lost all respect for him. He's turned into an Establishment ass-kisser. I am sick of fake "progressives" like him.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 19, 2012 @ 7:09 pm

Is that the progressives seem willing to forgive and forget for Ross on this, mostly because they like his politics and he was always a solid vote for the far left on the BoS. There is probably even a slimmer of hope that he can overcome this, keep his head down for a number of years and maybe even become Mayor.

Now, would the progressives be willing to forgive and forget if this was say Greg Suhr, Gavin Newsom, etc. in this situation? doubtful.

Posted by Dnative on Apr. 19, 2012 @ 2:57 pm

He made that promise to several of the supervisors before they voted for him. He also made that promise to me and several other Guardian editors and reporters when we interviewed him shortly after he took office as interim mayor. He said very clearly on tape, that there were absolutely no conditions under which he would seek a full term unless every member of the Board of Supervisors asked him to.

Yes, he did promise not to run. Repeatedly. To many people.

Posted by tim on Apr. 19, 2012 @ 2:04 pm

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