Over the past two weeks, suspended Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi has been distributing a flier to his supporters. On it is a series of bulleted sentiments, or “Points to convey in letters to the editor, supervisors and on-line media sites. Ideas to get started: choose, combine, re-phrase, embellish.”
The directive mentions the will of the voters or “democracy” at least three times. As in, “The sheriff was duly elected by voters. We put him into office; only we should decide whether he stays.”
On Monday, Mirkarimi petitioned the Ethics Commission to postpone the vote by the Board of Supervisors until after the election because, according to his legal brief, “Each member of the Board has been warned either directly or indirectly that he or she will face political wrath for his or her respective vote.” In other words, voters might hold our public officials accountable for their actions. This also is commonly known as “democracy.”
A source close to Mirkarimi tells me that the sheriff’s appeal Monday to the Ethics Commission was just the first move. If it doesn’t work to delay the vote (and it won’t), Mirkarimi’s lawyers will try to buy more time by raising additional objections to the commission’s proceedings.
Current supervisors have been warned by the city attorney not to publicly discuss their votes on the Mirkarimi case before the official vote, so sitting supervisors who are running for office will be able to hide, saying, “I’d love to talk about it, but I can’t!” during the run-up to Election Day.
To be clear: by postponing the vote on his removal, Mirkarimi would keep voters in the dark about the intentions of our candidates, thus preventing us from making an informed decision on Election Day. And he’s doing this while telling his troops to spread the word that his own removal is a “disgrace to Democracy.” To borrow from a recent Bill Clinton speech, “It takes some brass to attack a guy for doing what you did.”
Overall, the purpose of Team Ross’ bullet points and publicity blitz is to provide political “cover” to members of the Board of Supervisors who will, at some point, have to vote on his removal. Denouncing all prior polls that show overwhelming support for Mirkarimi’s removal, his supporters have yet to conduct one of their own — at least not one they’ll share. Without data, he’s hoping that lining up the Mirkaloonies at public hearings, meetings and comment sections will make enough noise to convince three supervisors to vote in Mirkarimi’s favor.
My source tells me that Mirkarimi believes that supervisors John Avalos and Christina Olague will vote to keep him in office. Avalos was a political ally, and Olague is running for election in Mirkarimi’s former district, where he is still popular. If true, that leaves Mirkarimi one vote shy of the total he needs to return to office. And what could Mirkarimi promise the supervisors who might provide that important third vote (read: Eric Mar or David Campos)? The full support of Mirkarimi’s supporters, who demonstrably have nothing but free time to make stickers, posters and conspiracy theories on a candidate’s behalf.
Despite this support, it will still be a gamble for any politician to vote to keep Mirkarimi as sheriff. But such a vote would be easier to cast after Election Day if Mirkarimi can keep the truth from the voters long enough.
Because he’s all about democracy.
Check out these two pictures. The first was taken at a fundraiser for Norman Yee’s District 7 supervisorial bid. The second is being used by the Yee campaign in a direct-mail piece and doorhanger. Look closely and you can see that Yee has Photoshopped out Supervisor John Avalos’ face and inserted the face of another person already in the crowd.
Avalos has endorsed Yee, so it’s not clear why the Yee campaign would want to get rid of his face, but Avalos isn’t listed on Yee’s campaign website as an endorser either. At any rate, the manipulation is clear: the shirt collar, hand, pants and shoes are all Avalos. The face, not so much.