(This week’s California Employment posting was to be on recent globalization impacts on job training in our state. But once again, the Mirkarimi case in San Francisco intervenes, and requires globalization be pushed back one week).
The matter of suspended San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi is coming to its endgame in the next few weeks. The anti-domestic violence advocates who have fought for so long now need our support one more time.
At Fox and Hounds we have done two previous postings on the Mirkarimi matter (here and here) and its importance to all Californians, including us in the workforce community. At the time of the last posting in mid-March, Mr. Mirkarimi had pled guilty to a misdemeanor of false imprisonment of his wife, Ms. Eliana Lopez, while continuing to maintain he did nothing wrong and portraying the women neighbors who reported the matter as hysterical and unbalanced . Given the politics of San Francisco, it appeared he would not only keep his position, but succeed in blaming wealthy Republicans and large corporations for his plight.
But once again in this matter, a public official intervened. First, it was District Attorney George Gascon in bringing a criminal case, after Mr. Mirkarimi dismissed the matter as a “private matter”. Now Mayor Ed Lee used his authority to suspend Mr. Mirkarimi and set in motion a process to remove Mr. Mirkarimi from office.
This action caught Mr. Mirkarimi unaware, but within a short time, he and his close political ally former Mayor Art Agnos, went back on the offensive. They launched an extensive political campaign to rally support among the left in San Francisco.
As a key part of this campaign, Team Mirkarimi went on the offensive against the two women neighbors of Mirkarimi who had reported the abuse, Ms. Ivory Madison and Ms. Callie Williams, and the anti-domestic violence advocates active in the effort to remove Mr. Mirkarimi, particularly Ms. Beverly Upton, Ms. Esta Soler, and Ms. Kathy Black. The advocates were denounced for seeking attention, for seeking money, for breaking ranks.
Anyone who knows anything about San Francisco politics knows that from the start the anti-domestic violence advocates had every incentive to keep quiet. “Go along to Get along” is the mantra of most non-profits in San Francisco, who can depend on subsidies from the city/county government if they are not critical of existing officials or policies.
But Ms. Upton, Ms. Black, Ms. Soler and others have not kept quiet. They have not agreed to compromise or be silenced. Instead, they have done something very unusual in San Francisco politics, indeed in California politics; they have stood on principle and put their careers on the line.
For their actions, they have seen their organizations threatened with funding withdrawals and even the withdrawal of the organization’s tax-exempt status. They have been shunned by former allies, ridiculed, and called every name in the book—“cackling harpies”, one of the few publishable.
So far they have stood strong and show no signs of backing down. But the matter is not yet over. On October 9, the 11-member Board of Supervisors will vote on removing Mr. Mirkarimi. The bar for removal is a high one: nine of the supervisors must vote in the affirmative to remove Mr. Mirkarimi. As this is written, Team Mirkarimi, recognizing the growing public sentiment against him, is working frantically to get one or more of the Supervisors to abstain or be designated as unable to vote, and is keeping up its political attacks. Simply contacting the anti domestic violence advocates by e-mail (www.dvcpartners.org; www.lacasa.org) to indicate support would be valuable at this time.
During one of the recent hearings at the Ethics Commission, Team Mirkarimi brought tens of supporters to cheer for Mirkarimi and boo those calling for his ouster. After waiting patiently for hours, Ms. Upton was the final speaker, and not intimidated she could remind the Commission: “The victims are watching; the perpetrators are watching, the world is watching”.