30-day countdown to Mirkarimi decision begins

September 18, 2012 7:11:35 PM PDT
The fate of suspended San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi is now in the hands of the Board of Supervisors. The city's Ethics Commission officially handed over its findings Tuesday. Now the supervisors will decide whether he keeps his job.

Even the handover wasn't all that simple. Reams of documents were delivered to each supervisor's office Tuesday to help them prepare for a hearing they have scheduled for next month.

The binders represent the full record of the Ethics Commission's hearings into the Mirkarimi case -- everything accepted as evidence, and everything that was tossed out.

"They are not presuming that what they thought was appropriate is what the board will think is appropriate," Ethics Commission Executive Director John St. Croix said. "So the records reflect what was submitted as evidence and what was not."

The ethics commissioners voted 4 to 1 finding the suspended sheriff committed official misconduct when he bruised his wife's arm, was arrested, and convicted of misdemeanor false imprisonment.

Whether he's permanently tossed from office or reinstated is now up to the board of supervisor, where Mirkarimi served for seven years before being elected as sheriff.

"I trust that they'll do their homework and their due diligence," Mirkarimi said. "But I'm concerned like many, that there is a question if fairness collides with those concerned about their political survival."

Five of the eleven supervisors face election in November. Mirkarimi and his supporters had argued for a delay in the hearing until after that. Instead it will be held during the thick of the campaign, on Tuesday October 9.

The procedure calls for a brief overview from the Ethics Commission. The mayor and sheriff both have 20 minutes for a presentation, followed by a five minute rebuttal by the mayor, as well as unlimited public testimony. The thousands of pages of documents hand delivered Tuesday represents a lot of reading. They also received copies of the ethics hearing on a disc.

"I expect that they'll review it," Deputy City Attorney Peter Keith said. "They'll probably look at some parts more closely than others. The Ethics Commission took its job very seriously in assembling a record and sending it on to each member of the board."

Now that the supervisors have the official record from the Ethics Commission, the clock is ticking. They have 30 days to decide Mirkarimi's fate. If the deadline passes, he's automatically reinstated.

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