San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi returned to work today, a day after the city’s Board of Supervisors fell short of the nine votes needed to remove him from office on official misconduct charges.
Mirkarimi said he was looking forward to the transition back to work after being suspended in March by Mayor Ed Lee following his guilty plea to misdemeanor false imprisonment in connection with a Dec. 31 incident in which he grabbed his wife’s arm during an argument, causing a bruise.
“It’s a new day,” Mirkarimi said.
“I want to be as accommodating as I can be,” he said, adding that he was heading to a meeting this afternoon with top brass in the Sheriff’s Department, including interim sheriff Vicki Hennessy, who the mayor had appointed after suspending Mirkarimi.
“I asked for a clean, effective transition,” he said.
The board voted 7-4 in favor of upholding the official misconduct charges against Mirkarimi, two shy of the number of votes required by the city charter for the removal to go into effect.
Supervisors John Avalos, David Campos, Jane Kim and Christina Olague were the four who declined to vote with the majority.
Avalos said he thought the city’s case was “convoluted from a legal point of view” while Kim issued a statement today saying that it was not adequately proven that Mirkarimi “used the powers of his office to commit wrongdoing, in this case, physical abuse against his wife.”
However, Kim said she would support a recall effort against the sheriff and that her “faith in him as a person and sheriff has greatly diminished.”
Earlier this afternoon, Lee spoke briefly to reporters and reiterated his disappointment in the board’s vote.
“We have a very deep difference of opinion,” he said, adding that the four dissenting supervisors “sought out an excuse for an inexcusable act.”
Lee said he would be “fulfilling our legal obligation to work together” even though it is a “strongly emotional situation.”
He said he has not considered whether he would support a recall effort against the sheriff.
“That’s the public’s prerogative,” he said.
Mirkarimi, for his part, acknowledged the possibility of a recall and said, “that’s a hurdle we’ll face when we get to it.”
He said, “I hope I can just continue to demonstrate why the people elected me to be sheriff.”
Mirkarimi will get back pay for the time he was suspended, a portion of his annual salary of $208,000, according to the city controller’s office.
District Attorney George Gascon also weighed in on Mirkarimi’s reinstatement, saying in a statement that he thinks the sheriff should “recuse himself from the duties in his office that relate to the custody, supervision, safety and rehabilitation of domestic violence offenders.”
As part of his guilty plea, Mirkarimi was sentenced to three years’ probation and Gascon said, “During the remainder of his probation he needs to wall himself off from this conflict by appointing a high level administrator within his department to oversee all domestic violence related work.”
Gascon said, “The sheriff has another opportunity to act with grace and true compassion by recusing himself from the supervision of domestic violence activities in his department. He can begin to heal the divide in this city and reassure victims that he can be the kind of sheriff they deserve.”
Mirkarimi briefly commented on the district attorney’s request, saying he would provide a “legal response” at a later date.
“I am elected in my own right and we will deal with that,” he said.
Dan McMenamin, Bay City News
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