Sheriff fears very same people who elected him 

click to enlarge Those only-in-San Francisco laws often come at a cost. - SF EXAMINER FILE PHOTO
  • SF Examiner file photo
  • Those only-in-San Francisco laws often come at a cost.

Back when he trusted the good people of San Francisco to make the right decisions, candidate for Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi said, “I've been telling people, vote your conscience.” And side with him we did, electing him to be our Sheriff.

Now Mirkarimi has been charged with domestic violence, child endangerment and witness tampering related to an alleged incident with his wife on New Year’s Eve. Thus far he has maintained his innocence, saying, “I trust in the system, and we have to let the system sort this out.”

By “let the system sort this out,” he apparently means, “use every legal maneuver to prevent San Franciscans from seeing the evidence in this case.” So far his lawyers have tried to keep out of court a video his wife made that purports to document Mirkarimi’s abuse and the testimony of a former girlfriend who claims to have be subjected to similar abuse. Both attempts failed, so now we get the real Hail Mary: a motion to move the trial out of San Francisco, even though jury selection has already begun.

As for this effort to change the location of the trial, his legal team’s argument is basically that “the widespread pervasive and negative nature of the media reports surrounding this case have reached a point where it is impossible to seat an untainted jury in San Francisco.”

Ah, the lamestream media is at it again! Like a serpent, we have delivered the apple of knowledge to Eve and all of San Francisco has fallen from their state of grace as potential jurors. Tainted jurors whose very names were plucked from the voter registration data that let them elect Mirkarimi a mere four months ago.

Want proof of this injustice? The motion cites the fact that if you Google “Mirkarimi” and “domestic violence,” it returns “approximately 494,000 hits.” (I checked and “Griffin” and “domestic violence” returns 8,600,000 hits. Oh dear.)

And how about the fact that the media published stills from Lopez’s video (that any jury judging the case is going to see anyway)? Or that the boring and factless jury questionnaire has been shared with the public? This is all cited as proof that the media has ruined everything.

According to the motion, poor Mirkarimi “has incorrectly been characterized as hot-tempered and a bully who uses his power and office to intimidate and escape consequences.” That his own former attorney is the one who said, “occasionally he can be a bit of tyrant” and that his own wife said (on video) that Mirkarimi “said he is very powerful” is of no consequence. You mindless minions have been brainwashed and confused by the media’s factual jujitsu and none of you are fit to judge the sheriff you elected.

Or maybe he’s afraid that twelve San Franciscans will once again vote their conscience.

Failing again to save board from itself

In the fall of 2009, then-Mayor Gavin Newsom released a document that he had received from the City Attorney called a “cautionary memorandum.” In it, staff attorneys employed by The City laid out the legal problems with Supervisor David Campos’ “Sanctuary City” ordinance. That ordinance prohibited local law enforcement from notifying federal officials when a juvenile arrested for a felony was suspected of being in the United States illegally.

The Sanctuary City law passed anyway, though everyone at the Board of Supervisors understood the legal problems thanks to that cautionary memo.

What if I told you that “cautionary memos” are issued regularly? Each time the Board of Supervisors passes a law that gets overturned by a judge, you can bet the City Attorney has tried to warn them. These documents are confidential, so you and I can’t read them, but you can bet that there were cautionary memos in 2008 before the California Restaurant Association sued the city over a new ordinance requiring calorie counts and other nutritional information on menus.

That kind of law can only come from the state level and California did ultimately pass its own version of the law. But not before the city spent $91,994.33 defending our ordinance in the lawsuit.

And in 2002 when the California Rifle and Pistol Association filed a lawsuit challenging the city’s assault-rifle ban. Again, only the state can regulate assault rifles, but it still cost the city $56,905.41 to learn that lesson.

Right now, the city attorney is defending the recent law restricting the distribution of the Yellow Pages, our plastic bag ban, the cell phone radiation labeling ban, and a law requiring guns kept in people’s homes to be locked in a container or trigger locked.

When the time comes to pay the price tags on these lawsuits, you can be sure that the supervisors, eight of whom are law school graduates, were warned.

Ranked-choice heads to vote

At Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, Supervisor Mark Farrell introduced a charter amendment to repeal ranked-choice voting in all citywide elections.
(District elections for the Board of Supervisors would still be conducted using the system.) Any charter amendment needs six board votes before it can be put on the ballot and now he has six sponsors, making it likely that we’ll get to weigh in on the system in November.

Farrell’s timing is right. The 2012 “CityBeat” poll released by the Chamber of Commerce last month shows the number of San Franciscans who “prefer runoff elections” is at 58 percent and those who “prefer ranked-choice voting” is at 31 percent.

Now Oakland is getting in on the action, with its very own ballot proposition to eliminate ranked-choice voting. A group called Moving Oakland Forward has launched a signature drive to put such a measure before voters November. “This is a pivotal year for Oakland,” said the groups’ spokesman, Melquis Naveo.
“It’s time for some serious structural change in our city government.”

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Melissa Griffin

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