Reinstate or remove Sheriff Mirkarimi? San Francisco Supervisors vote on Tuesday


KPFA Evening News, 10.06.12

On Tuesday, October 9th, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors will hold a hearing and vote on whether or not to overturn the election of Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, in response to charges of official misconduct brought by Mayor Ed Lee.  KPFA spoke to Mirkarimi attorney David Waggoner about due process, also known as fairness, in the proceeding.




KPFA Evening News Anchor Cameron Jones: This coming Tuesday, October 9th, is High Noon for suspended Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi at the San Francisco Board of San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, right, with his wife Eliana Lopez, center, and son, Theo Mirkarimi, left. Supervisors.The Board will hold a hearing, including a no doubt lengthy public comment period, and vote on whether or not to remove or reinstate the sheriff in response to Mayor Ed Lee’s official misconduct charges. Lee brought the charges after Mirkarimi’s New Year’s Eve argument with his wife, Venezuelan actress Eliana Lopez, which left a bruise on her arm.

Mirkarimi’s lawyers have withdrawn their request that each of the Supervisors sign a sworn statement regarding any possible contact with Mayor Lee about the case. But, they continue to argue for the sheriff and the voters' right to due process. KPFA’s Ann Garrison has the story.

KPFA/Ann Garrison: Advocates for both suspended San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi and San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee have held rallies outside City Hall and asked San Franciscans to lobby Supervisors to vote either to reinstate or remove Mirkarimi, but Mirkarimi attorney David Waggoner said that none of this is equivalent to intervention by Mayor Lee, or Sheriff Mirkarimi.
David Waggoner: Well, obviously, Mayor Lee is a direct party in the case. He’s the individual who brought the charges. Similarly, Sheriff Mirkarimi. It would be improper for the Sheriff to call members of the Board and ask them to do one thing or the other. Any resident of San Francisco is free to call his or her Supervisor and express their views. The real question is what sort of due process is going to apply.
While the Mayor has asserted that this official misconduct proceeding is just like any other administrative hearing, this is not a normal administrative hearing. This is a highly unusual hearing where the Board is being asked whether or not to overturn the will of the electorate. Initially we made a request to the members of the Board asking them to say, under oath, who they may have talked to about the case, if they'd talked to the mayor. We have since withdrawn that request because the law already requires members of the Board of Supervisors to say on the record who they have relationships with in terms of the parties.

Mirkarimi attorney David Waggoner addressed the San Francisco Board of Supervisors as they considered the procedure for the 09.12.2009 hearing on Sheriff Mirkarimi's reinstatement or removal.j

KPFA: Waggoner said that the law identifies two types of conflict that require a Supervisor to be excused from voting.
David Waggoner: The law provides for two situations where a decision maker must be excused from voting. And the most clear and obvious is if there's a financial interest.
The second is if he or she is so personally embroiled in the case that he or she could not reasonably be expected to render a fair and impartial decision. In other words, the probability of bias is too great.
We don't think that any member of the Board has a financial interest in the outcome of the case. The real question is to what extent has any member of the Board been personally embroiled in the case. Embroiled is a word that the case law uses. It's an unusual term but it really means entanglement. How involved is any member of the Board with either party, the sheriff or the mayor?  
KPFA: Much attention has been focused on Supervisors Eric Mar and Christina Olague, both of whom are engaged in hotly contested races. Campaign contributors, volunteers, and/or voters may be affected by how they vote on Tuesday. Supervisor Mar gave a shout out to Mirkarimi and his son Theo at the August rally for SEIU 1021 DeYoung Museum workers.
Eric Mar: I used to be a shop steward myself for 1021. I will keep fighting with many of my colleagues. I saw Ross Mirkarimi and Theo out here, our former colleague from the Board of Supervisors.  
KPFA: Mirkarimi said that he appreciated Mar’s acknowledgment, but that he and Mar have not spoken about his case and that Mar’s remarks should not be interpreted as an indicator of his intent to vote one way or another.
For PacificaKPFA Radio, I’m Ann Garrison.

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