Supervisor David Campos Explains His Vote to Reinstate Ross Mirkarimi as Sheriff

With District 9 Supervisor David Campos casting a deciding vote, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors moved to reinstate Ross Mirkarimi as Sheriff yesterday, despite Mirkarimi’s guilty plea to charges of false imprisonment, and despite the City Ethics Commission’s determination that Mirkarimi engaged in official misconduct.

The SF Chronicle reports:

Four members of the board voted against the motion to uphold the finding of the city Ethics Commission that Mirkarimi had committed official misconduct, an allegation that stemmed from a New Year’s Eve fight with his wife that resulted in him pleading guilty to misdemeanor false imprisonment. The other seven supervisors voted with the mayor.

Lee needed nine of the 11 supervisors’ votes to oust Mirkarimi. Supervisors David Campos, John Avalos, Jane Kim and – in a major blow to Lee – the mayor’s appointee, Christina Olague, voted to reinstate Mirkarimi. The four said they condemned Mirkarimi’s grabbing his wife’s arm, but that it didn’t amount to official misconduct.

“I don’t believe that we should do anything to minimize how serious this was,” Campos said. “There is simply no justification for anyone grabbing another human being’s arm and bruising that arm.

“But that egregious misconduct does not fall within the definition of official misconduct,” he continued. “We must interpret this provision narrowly or open the door, open the door wide, for potential abuse.”

Campos’s attempt to parse some sort of meaningful distinction between “egregious misconduct” and “official misconduct” seems tenuous, to say the least. Even more troubling, however, is the rather obvious fact that despite Campos’s declared intention, voting to reinstate Mirkarimi as Sheriff is precisely the kind of gesture that minimizes the seriousness of Mirkarimi’s behavior. A therapist might even call it enabling. Campos is running unopposed in next month’s District 9 election. Yet for me, his handling of this matter is disqualifying.

Agree or disagree, Bernal neighbors and District 9 constituents are invited to discuss in the comments.

PHOTO: Ross Mirkarimi (center) confers with attorneys Shepard Kopp (left) and David Waggoner during yesterday’s hearing before the Board of Supervisors. San Francisco Chronicle photo by Jason Henry.

48 thoughts on “Supervisor David Campos Explains His Vote to Reinstate Ross Mirkarimi as Sheriff

  1. Completely agree. If our sheriff can’t be held accountable for upholding the law in his own home, what could possibly construe “official misconduct”?

  2. Domestic violence is a serious issue and Mirkarimi was wrong to harm his wife when she apparently threatened to leave the country with their child, but if every politician who grabbed a partner’s arm and left a bruise or the equivalent had to leave office, City Halls all over the country would be empty. Mirkarimi was charged with a crime, found guilty, and served his sentence… I agree with Campos that the incident didn’t amount to official misconduct.

    • Is there a definition of “official misconduct” that could be applied to this case for any kind of more clear way to determine if the false imprisonment charge fits within it?

      I can readily agree that domestic abuse is horrific, but I do not know what the law is that was being cited to oust Mirkarimi.

    • I agree with Stardust. Mirkarimi may be an asshole, and he should never have grabbed his wife hard enough to bruise her, but being an asshole is not a crime. Even a totally arrogant one. (As some friends at the gym said this morning, echoing Stardust, above: “if every asshole were a criminal, bedrooms all over America would be minus their men.”) Now it’ll be interesting to see what Ross does with this “opportunity.” I think he should be required to pay us all back for this sideshow by working in the SF jails, co-leading, with qualified counselors, groups for dv offenders.

      • Correct. Being an asshole is not a crime. But he did plead guilty to a crime: False imprisonment. Isn’t that the issue here? It’s not merely poor conduct; it’s the guilty plea to an actual offense.

  3. I am really surprised Mirkarimi is being reinstated and I feel like there is no way he can do an effective job given his history. David Campos, the invisible man, comes out of hiding to do one thing and it pisses me off. Who can we write in on election day? Anyone? Bueller?

  4. The fact that this made it to a vote is a joke. How much taxpayer money do you think was spent on this ordeal over the last 10 months? The Supervisors, the Mayor and the Sherriff should done what they are elected to do and resolved this matter long ago. Mirkarimi should have been given a cush appointment out on Treasure Island to allow him to quietly exit the stage and the rest of them should moved on with doing their jobs as elected officials. They obviously all care much more about their political and financial futures than truly serving San Franciscans. Vote them all out in November.

  5. Phew, glad this tempest-in-a-teapot is finally over. I’ve already mailed Supervisor Campos to thank him for his vote.

  6. I have sent David an email explaining that he has lost my vote, and likely those of many of the District 9 voters as well. In his replies he tried to cast this as a narrow ruling based on “official” misconduct. I’m sorry, but someone who’s job it is to incarcerate and rehabilitate people that have done exactly what he did cannot effectively do the job of Sheriff.

    • Don’t waste your vote! My name is Bud Ryerson and I am running as an official write-in candidate for Supervisor, District 9. If you are not happy with Campos, please write-in “Bud Ryerson” on Tuesday, November 6th, and don’t forget to fill in the arrow. For more details, we are on the Facebook as “Bud 4 Nine” and our campaign website is: Send a message!

  7. i don’t think Mirkarimi should have lost his job over this, but i will not vote for him in the next election and can’t imagine he will get re-elected.

    Someone should be running against Campos, because he is not a very good supervisor, but in this case he was voting as a progressive against the city conservatives that were obviously moving swiftly against Mirkarimi.

    The whole incident shows the mayor to be a stooge and Mirkarimi is not fit to hold public office

  8. oh, i should have posted here the eve. that i saw Mirkarimi out strategizing with his peeps on Cortland st. about 2 mos. back, i am about 75% sure that Campos was there with him, but i might be mis-remembering…

  9. A blow to the Brown/Pak/Lee power broker bullies. Which is a good thing for SF.

    On 2 occasions I saw SF DA George Gascon explain that this case was being handled strictly by the book and was neither politically motivated, nor an excuse to embarrass Mr Mirkarimi. But then he added that if he wanted an excuse to embarrass Mr Mirkarimi, he could easily do that. That spoke volumes about what this case was really about. Add to this Mayor’s Lee’s repeated reference to the “beating” that Eliana experienced, and the picture is complete.

    One doesn’t need to be insensitive to the serious issue of domestic violence to see that this entire case was politically and personally motivated. (In fact, to me it was insulting to the seriousness of domestic violence cases to compare this to “beatings” and the like). OK, he got mad enough to grab his wife’s arm, but this hardly rises to such as offense. Really now, what a waste of money. time, press.

    Kudos to the brave 4 supes.

    • And were the city’s domestic violence activists and professionals also “politically and personally motivated” in making their plea to the Supervisors not to reinstate the suspended sheriff, given his guilty plea/conviction?

  10. I do not agree with Campos reasoning! One more reason not to vote for this man…..too bad he is running unopposed!

  11. I work in the criminal justice system so this hits home for me. Notwithstanding what happened between Ross and his wife, and notwithstanding all of the excuses and versions of what actually or did not transpire that fateful night in the car, it happened just days before his swearing in as our new sheriff. Bad judgment call on Ross’s part! Plain and simple. He isn’t fit to be Sheriff of San Francisco. His behavior is a truly horrible reflection of himself and on the City and its voters who elected him.
    On David Campos’s vote, that is to be expected – his comments are to be expected as well. Suggesting the behavior did not occur in the course of his official duties is a big stretch – while yes he was not yet sworn in, he was the elected sheriff and soon to be sworn in. He wasn’t officially on the job, but he was to become the sheriff in a few days – again, bad judgment call. Many of the supes were trying to find a way to wiggle out of doing the right thing and upholding the suspension and not upsetting the electorate this close to election day. But, that is San Francisco politics and, again, to be expected. Each district will have to deal with their candidate as they see fit.
    Putting political considerations aside, the man now running the City department that handles the courts, jails and in-custody training programs (including domestic violence) for incarcerated inmates is himself a convicted wife-abuser and on probation for three years. This does not reflect well on the City and County of San Francisco, the Sheriff’s Department or our criminal justice system. But I guess we’re just going to have to live with it.
    Rest assured I for one (and I can think of a few others I know that) won’t be casting a vote for David Campos this go-around, or ever again for that matter.

    • I watched much of the proceedings live, and I too was stunned and deeply disappointed for our district.

      David Chiu, also a lawyer, carefully parsed the facts of the case and the language of the charter and cast the right vote. (Watch Chiu’s strong, thoughtful argument on Among other points, Chiu notes that the sherrif’s deputies would lose their jobs if they committed a crime off duty and that resinstating Mirkarimi amounts to asking them to abide by one standard while requiring the sheriff, their boss, to abide by another.)

  12. Is the Mayor part of the Brown/Pak political machine? Yes.
    Is Mirkarimi a convicted criminal who pled guilty to domestic violence charges? Yes.
    Is domestic violence a serious crime that is still not taken as seriously as it should be, and protected against, even in San Francisco? Yes.
    Are most San Franciscans and Bernal Heights residents progressive, open-minded, forgiving people who still believe in the rule of law, public safety, the vale of women, and individual responsibility? I think so.
    Are most our San Francisco politics and politicians–moderate or progressive–focused more on the business of political blocs, image, divisiveness, oratory, and labels than prioritizing, getting things done, or standing up for what is right? I do think so.
    Technically, this domestic violence assault might not fit a strict reading of official misconduct (something done against department rules or local laws, especially while on-duty or in the course of fulfilling ones duties), but the position of Sheriff is our top elected, public-safety position in the County of San Francisco, and it is hard to see the efficacy or appropriateness of a Sheriff serving right after being convicted of an assault crime.
    And I worry about what it says about how much we really care about the issue of domestic violence–in all its shades and nuances–and how much we follow up on our San Francisco values of justice, equality, and equal protection in the face of politics.
    I have serious concerns about how our Mayor became our Mayor, but I do think he was making a call that was important to make as far as our laws and our values.
    Why is Mirkarimi even so valuable to us? Where is the record or experience that would even cause us to evenly weigh his service in office against his admitted crime? He had some good ideas as a Supervisor, but he was pretty bad at working with others to make them real. Being a progressive, Green politician does not make him immune to individual or official responsibility.
    And indeed, what value does Campos have for us? What has he done? As a gay man of color, I was excited about his election. But it’s hard for me to see what he stands for or wants to accomplish.

    • oops. “value of women,” instead of the most egregious of my several typos. “Vale of Women” sounds like a 1950s, sci-fi fantasy flick about the discovery (by men of course) of a long-lost, single-sex utopia with strong women in furs. 🙂

    • Mirkarimi did not plead guilty to domestic violence charges. He plead guilty to a misdemeanor “false imprisonment” charge.

      • um…i have to agree with “clumsy:” clarity and truth is always important, especially legally, so my error; but the distinction you focus on, in the big picture, is microscopically small.

  13. Great comments! The reinstaters are dead to me politically, but I see that reasonable people can disagree. One thing that is missing (speaking as a lawyer) is the actual text of the misconduct rules and the alleged violation and how it does or doesn’t apply.

  14. Shame on you Ross Mirkarimi, Shame on you David Campos! Shame on city government! Being a native San Franciscan, living in one of the most beautiful parts of the city, Bernal Heights. I’m happy to say, I did NOT vote for Mirkarimi when he was running for sheriff, UNfortunately, I did vote for David Campos as my district rep, but he won’t get my vote in the upcoming election. Did I read above that no one is running against him, so he’ll be our rep again?! I have seen this city go through so many changes, most of them for the better, but I got to admit, where there was a time when I was so proud to say, “I’m from San Francisco!” has now turned to a bit of embarrassment. I just feel very dissapointed, very let down, but as with everything else, we must just move on…let’s just keep our Bernal Heights fingers crossed that we don’t start seeing, and allowing, naked people walking down Cortland, and let’s try to keep those, “My dad says I’m a gift from god” Anti-Abortion billboard bullshit, off our Bernal Heights buildings! Think maybe you can work your supervisor super wonders, Mr Campos, and take a stand on these?!

  15. David Campos does not seem to really care about the opinions of his constituents. I wrote him a letter on an issue that mattered to me (that the sups were voting on) and never got a reply explaining his vote or opinion. And I did not just send in a form letter. I have used senators Feinstein and boxer’s and congresswoman pelosi’s web based comments form, sent in basically a form letter, and gotten responses (albeit not personal) explaining their reasoning on federal legislation. And they are representing orders of magnitude larger numbers of constituents. It is bizarre to me. He is REPRESENTING us.

    • Wow, that has completely been the opposite of my experiences with him. I have gotten both e-mail responses and phone calls from people in his office.

    • he will respond to you if you agree with him. I’ve had no luck getting a response to issues like improving the soccer fields in GG Park, etc.

  16. David Campos is the worst supervisor in the history of the City. I agree we should have a write-in candidate. Any qualified District 9 residents?

    • Yes, there is! My name is Bud Ryerson and I am running as a fully qualified write-in candidate for Supervisor, District 9. If you are not happy with Campos, please write-in “Bud Ryerson” on Tuesday, November 6th (and don’t forget to fill in the arrow). For more details, we are on the Facebook as “Bud 4 Nine” and our campaign website is: Send a message!

      • Why didn’t you register and get on the ballot? I would have voted for you had I known instead I chose none of the above.

      • Why? Because Campos voted to reinstate Mirkarimi AFTER the deadline to get on the ballot. I barely had time to register as a write-in. We worked really hard to get the word out; but we only had a few days. No debates, no media, and posters on lights poles just don’t reach very far. I sincerely appreciate your taking the time to write. Keep that thought in mind when Campos runs for Assembly in 2014.

      • Looking forward to it. He has done an extraordinarily good job as Supervisor, and, should he choose to run for Assembly, I have every reason to believe he would represent his constituents extremely well in that post as well.

      • Sure thing! He’s got a great voting record, and every time I have contacted him with any questions/concerns his office has been very responsive and helpful. He’s certainly not perfect, but I I feel very well-represented on both a general and a personal level. And, really, there’s not much else I can think of that I would want out of a Supervisor, or any elected representative, than that.

  17. I feel disgusted by both sides. Felt like everyone was trying to shoe horn a set of facts into their legal theory. As citizens we are all left perplexed and disgusted. Cant see the right of either point of view and resent all the rhetoric about domestic violence. Domestic violence is serious shit. This entire event will do more to drive powerless woman from complaining than empower anyone. Let me see. If I report my husband for breaking my jaw, I an illegal, risk losing everything. My American citizen husband divorces me and I have to leave the country. My children born here can not come with me. Or maybe he just loses his job and we all starve. The worst are domestic violence advocates who can not bring perspective to anything. What world do they live in?

  18. Pingback: Bernalwood 2012: The Year in Superlatives | Bernalwood

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