Mayor Ed Lee to address sheriff personally about taking leave 

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The continuing melee around Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi’s court proceedings could prompt Mayor Ed Lee to ask him if he’d be “willing to take a leave.”

The mayor said at a Chinese New Year event on Monday that he wants to talk personally with the sheriff and “find out from him whether he can fulfill the duties of his office.”

Just hours before the mayor made his comments, Mirkarimi appeared in San Francisco Superior Court and learned he will face trial Feb. 24 on charges of battery domestic violence, dissuading a witness and child endangerment in connection with a New Year’s Eve incident at his Webster Street home.

Mirkarimi’s wife, Eliana Lopez, has been vehemently defending her husband. She insists the allegations have been “taken out of context” and stem from “dirty” politics. Police learned of the alleged incident when they were called by Mirkarimi’s neighbor, who videotaped a bruise on Lopez’s arm.

The mayor said the allegations present serious “distractions” to smooth operation of the Sheriff’s Department.

“It puts the Sheriff’s Department in a unique situation because they have domestic violence programs,” Lee said.

The mayor also addressed criticism that claims against Mirkarimi — the progressive stalwart and former District 5 supervisor — are politically driven.

“I’m trying not to be political about this,” the mayor said. “The concerns I have are very nonpolitical.”

Earlier this month, Lee said he was looking at the City Charter to “review duties” on how to proceed in a situation like Mirkarimi’s, but the mayor has not openly said he has the power to suspend or remove the sheriff if he is convicted.

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Dan Schreiber

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