Ross Mirkarimi Case: SF City Hall’s Latest Witch Trial

Let’s start with all the things San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi did wrong:

1) Mirkarimi bullied his wife, Eliana Lopez, when he grabbed her right arm and bruised it Dec. 31.

2) When police first contacted Mirkarimi about the episode, the sheriff did not cooperate with the investigation. Instead, he circled the wagons.

3) He hired a small army of attorneys for himself and his wife, which slowed the legal process. He’s the elected sheriff of San Francisco, and he tried to move his trial outside the city.

4) When Mirkarimi pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of false imprisonment, he thought he could keep his job. Mayor Ed Lee swiftly put an end to that reverie when he asked the sheriff to quit. Mirkarimi refused. So began an Ethics Commission review that led to reams of documentation and Thursday’s and Friday’s hearings on Lee’s bid to prompt supervisors to fire Mirkarimi for “official misconduct.”

In City Hall, there should be a plaque that reads, “The more inconsequential the matter the more time, energy and money City Hall will spend on it.”

This isn’t San Francisco’s first witch hunt. In 2006, Pete Wilson, the late KGO anchorman and talk show host, made the mistake of voicing his discomfort about a baby born to a gay supervisor and a lesbian friend. A baby, Wilson said, should not be “an experiment.” Mirkarimi and three other supervisors demanded that Wilson resign his job.

Now Mirkarimi is on the receiving end. As the New Year’s Eve story bubbled, Mirkarimi texted his campaign manager: “Unbelievable. (Domestic violence activist Beverly Upton) knows that I’ve always been a fervent supporter of the (domestic violence) community. Am I really guilty until proven innocent?” His inner circle was convinced that rival Democrats were plotting against him. They didn’t see that the real enemy is political correctness. When you feed that beast, it can turn on anyone.

Why support him? One, a bruised arm does not rate a domestic violence prosecution. Two, Lopez says: “Ross never hit me, punched me, battered me or beat me.” Three, I don’t believe every bit of hearsay hurled at Mirkarimi. The burden of proof is on the accuser, not the accused.

It’s respectable to argue that Mirkarimi’s guilty plea makes him unsuitable to be sheriff. But the mayor had to throw in a declaration from a spurned one-time girlfriend and add a flimsy charge that Mirkarimi tried to intimidate witnesses. It’s asymmetrical warfare.

Recently, Lee charged that Mirkarimi was guilty of “beating” Lopez. When politicians have to make up charges, watch out.

While I can enumerate Mirkarimi’s mistakes, City Hall has made only one mistake in this matter — piling on. Problem is, city solons keep making that same mistake over and over again, and they never have to admit they were wrong. They just pile on more accusations, declarations and abuse.

A reasonable man would give in, let City Hall win and move on with his life. That’s why San Francisco needs a few unreasonable men. If no one stands up to City Hall’s overkill, no San Franciscan is safe.

Email Debra J. Saunders at [email protected]

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