With Ross Mirkarimi out of office for the time being, it’s time to assess what comes next in the trial of our overly enthusiastic jailer. Having pled guilty to false imprisonment of his wife on New Year’s Eve, he now refuses to resign. Moderates must be thrilled.
See, getting rid of Mirkarimi is only the end of one progressive’s political career. But by Mirkarimi insisting on the full removal process, he is imperiling the re-election of all five progressives on the Board of Supervisors.
The Ethics Commission will hold a hearing on the official misconduct charges levied against Mirkarimi and make a non-binding recommendation to the Board of Supervisors. (Thank goodness Mirkarimi fought so hard to make the Ethics Commission televise its meetings!) Unless Mirkarimi resigns, the board will eventually have to vote on this case. Now, some supervisors might be hustling to find a way to recuse themselves from all this, but the City Charter is clear: there must be nine votes in favor of removal in order to make it permanent.
Progressive supervisors John Avalos, David Campos, David Chiu, Eric Mar and Christina Olague will each be defending their seats this November, and now they are in a pretty tough spot. Vote to oust Mirkarimi and anger fellow progressives who cling to theories about how their Golden Boy is the victim of a vast, right-wing conspiracy. Vote to keep Mirkarimi and become a piñata for one’s political opponents.
Yesterday, local Democratic Party chairman Aaron Peskin called on Mirkarimi to resign and “mend his relationships and family.” And by that he meant, “Please don’t sacrifice other progressives at the altar of your own ego.”
In a recent survey by KCBS, 53 percent of poll respondents said that Mirkarimi should be removed if he does not resign. Older respondents were more likely to favor removal, with white and Asian respondents leading the pack, followed by 47 percent of Hispanics.
In light of this data, it stands to reason that Supervisor David Chiu, whose district includes enclaves of older white and Asian voters like Nob Hill, Chinatown and North Beach, will be feeling the pressure to vote against Mirkarimi. The same can be said for Supervisor Eric Mar, who represents the Richmond, and Supervisor John Avalos, whose district is dominated by the largely Asian and Hispanic Excelsior neighborhood. According to a May 2011 neighborhood study, the Excelsior neighborhood is 30 percent Latino and 49 percent Asian.
Supervisor David Campos’ district includes the Mission and Bernal Heights, which have large young and Hispanic populations. One might think this means Campos is under less pressure to eject Mirkarimi, but the scuttlebutt is that Campos will be running for State Assembly next year, so he’s got a much larger constituency to consider.
When Ross Mirkarimi was elected sheriff, Christine Olague was selected to replace him as representative of the Haight, which is mostly white but under 50 years old. Mayor Lee appointed Olague to her seat so look for him to push hard for her to vote in favor of removal.
If Mirkarimi cares that he could sour someone else’s election or compromise the progressive majority at the Board, he’s not showing it. No, he’s busy at a press conference lamenting into a nosegay of microphones about how his side of the story has not been heard. It is painfully clear that Ross is all about Ross.
When the time comes for the board of supervisors to vote on Mirkarimi’s removal, we’ll see if the supervisors show the same consideration for his career as he has shown for theirs by forcing a vote.
Hidden away on this week’s Board of Supervisors agenda was a request for $73,000.00 to pay for plaintiff’s attorney fees in the case of Fonseca versus Fong.
This lawsuit goes all the way back to 2007, when San Francisco resident Charles Fonseca requested information from the San Francisco Police Department about its policy of enforcing a certain state law, California Health and Safety Code section 11369. That law, passed in 1953, states “where there is reason to believe any person arrested” for 14 drug offenses ranging from marijuana possession to forging prescriptions, “may not be a citizen of the United States, the arresting agency shall notify the appropriate agency of the United States having charge of deportation matters.”
In 2007, officers were allowed, but not required, to report arrestees who “may not be a citizen” so Fonseca sued to make the City comply with the state law.
While he lost at the trial level, he won on appeal in 2008. After long settlement talks, our police and sheriff’s departments agreed to adopt new immigration reporting procedures in late 2010. Now, whenever the sheriff’s department processes anyone (including juveniles) arrested for the drug crimes listed in section 11369, they must report to immigration authorities anyone who “may not be a citizen.”
So is everyone clear now that San Francisco does, in fact, have to comply with state law? Yes? We’re good? Great. That’ll be $73,000.00.
Citizens rejoice! After a hiatus that none of you noticed, San Francisco Board of Supervisors meetings are once again broadcast over the radio. Last year, a local radio station offered to broadcast the meetings and our genteel residents responded with letters to the board that said things like, “Anyone with an ounce of brain would say yes to putting a community meeting on a radio station.”
The board agreed and now the whole operation is up and running with happy residents writing to City Hall, “Good to have you back on the radio,” and “It’s a big joy to listen to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors on my radio.”
So how can you get in on all the excitement? Tuesdays at 2 PM on (where else?) KPOO.