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On-line petition demands San Francisco sheriff's resignation

Two months after suspended San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi was reinstated, on-line petitioners are demanding the lawman's resignation.

On Wednesday afternoon, rossresign.org went live, declaring: “A criminal in charge of public safety? We deserve better.” The website, which says that “we have a sheriff who is a convicted abuser and in charge of the very programs he is a participant in,” has set a goal of 50,000 names.

Andrea Shorter, a member of the city’s Commission on the Status of Women, is leading the petition drive, which is an exploratory effort before a possible Mirkarimi recall. During a conference call Wednesday, Shorter described a possible recall as “a considerable undertaking” and said “we do want to make sure moving forward that we have as broad-based a coalition as possible.”

Mirkarimi was charged with misdemeanor domestic violence battery, child endangerment and dissuading a witness after a New Year’s Eve argument with his wife Eliana Lopez that left the Venezuelan telenovela star with a bruised arm. Just days before going to trial, Mirkarimi pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of false imprisonment.

Mirkarimi  was sentenced to three years of probation, 100 hours of community service, 52 weeks of domestic violence classes and a $400 fine. A day later, Mayor Edwin M. Lee announced that he would suspend the sheriff from office without pay. It was the first step in removing him permanently for “official misconduct.”

In August, the San Francisco Ethics Commission voted 4 to 1 that Mirkarimi had committed official misconduct and recommended that the Board of Supervisors remove him permanently. Instead, that body voted in October to reinstate him.

As Supervisor David Campos noted at the time, while Mirkarimi’s behavior toward his wife was “egregious,” it “does not fall in the definition of official misconduct.”

[Updated 6:34 p.m.: On Wednesday evening, Mirkarimi downplayed his detractors’ comments and the possibility of a recall.

His opponents are “certainly entitled to that perspective,” he said,  “but I’m focused on tackling on the enormous challenges facing San Francisco.”

Those challenges  include an inmate population with “serious mental health needs, high repeat offender rates and helping protect public safety as I was elected to do,” Mirkarimi said. “This is where my attention is … As soon as I returned to the job, we hit the ground running. The staff has been the epitome of consummate professionals. We’re picking up where we left off. A lot of good work has been done in rebuilding a department that was understaffed and financially handicapped.”]


Chief Deputy Sheriff Kathy Gorwood did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

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-- Maria La Ganga

 
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