Sunday, October 07, 2012

Hyping the significance of the Mirkarimi vote

Mayor Lee and Mirkarimi in happier times

The Chronicle is hyping next week's vote on Mirkarimi. This morning's front-page story goes to "a political scientist" for a Big Thought on the alleged significance of it all:
"This will be precedent-setting," said Corey Cook, a political scientist at the University of San Francisco. "It's the first modern test of this notion of official misconduct...This may be something we're talking about 20 years from now, regardless of the personalities involved. This will be the standard by which future ethics disputes are judged...There's a lot at stake in the current climate," he said. But "we'll remember it because of its institutional significance."

This is pure bullshit that's contradicted in the next sentence: 

It will be the first time the board has decided whether an elected official should be removed for official misconduct since 1932, when supervisors ousted Public Defender Frank Egan over his role in the killing of a widow. Egan was convicted of murder and served 25 years in prison.

Only someone saturated in the history of San Francisco has even heard of Egan, which demonstrates the rarity of the process. The idea that future mayors would be more likely to remove elected officials and/or political opponents on evidence as flimsy as the charges against Mirkarimi is fanciful. Mayor Lee surely knows by now that this is a fight he didn't need, since it's divided local Democrats and created a lot of bad feeling with no real political gain for Lee even if the supervisors dump Mirkarimi.

"Supes' vote on sheriff to establish precedent," was the front page headline in the hard copy of the Sunday Chronicle. In reality only the personal and political destruction of Ross Mirkarimi and his family is at stake.

The story adds a little extra bunk with this: "The business-friendly Lee and more liberal Mirkarimi come from opposing camps within the city's dominant Democratic Party..."

Name a single important city issue on which Mayor Lee and Ross Mirkarimi differ, on business or anything else. It can't be done. Supervisor Mirkarimi was in fact point man for major city development projects supported by City Hall, including the Market and Octavia Plan and allowing UC to rip off the old Extension property on lower Haight Street. And the anti-car bicycle projects were being pushed by Mirkarimi when Ed Lee was still buried deep in the city's bureaucracy in justified obscurity.

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