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August 22, 2012

COSW Meeting Information - August 22, 2012
COMMISSION MEETING MINUTES

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

                                                                                   4:00 PM

City Hall, Room 408

1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Street

San Francisco, CA 94102

 

Members Present                                            Staff Present         

                                    President Julie Soo                               Executive Director Emily M. Murase, PhD

Vice President Nancy Kirshner-                       Media & Community Affairs Director Aimee Allison

Rodriguez                                            Outreach and Development Manager Stacey Hoang

Commissioner Alicia Gamez               Policy Director Ann Lehman

Commissioner Kay Gulbengay                        Grants Administrator Carol Sacco       

Commissioner Becca Prowda              Commission Secretary Cynthia Vasquez        

Commissioner Andrea Shorter             UCLA Intern Hannah Chan

Commissioner Stephanie Simmons      UC Berkeley Intern Katherine Ray

           

           

I.                   Welcome

President Julie Soo called the meeting to order at 4:10 pm.  President Soo reviewed ground rules for public comment.

Action:  Approve agenda. 

m/s/c (Shorter/Gamez/Unanimous)

 

II.                APPROVAL OF MINUTES          

Action: Approve amended minutes from July 25, 2012.

Commissioner Gulbengay amended the minutes to reflect her absence at the July Commission meeting. 

m/s/c (Simmons/Gulbengay/Unanimous)

No public comment.                                    


        

III.             EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR’S REPORT                                        

        

A.           Executive Director's Report                                                                                     

Dr. Murase highlighted key parts of the Executive Director's report.  Dr. Murase reported that the Department has met with Kat Gordon, Founder and Creative Director of the marketing agency Maternal Instinct, to plan a GEP Roundtable in conjunction with the 3% Conference, a historic first-time event dedicated to the business importance of female Creative Directors to address an overwhelmingly female marketplace. The GEP Roundtable, entitled “Genderize Your Marketing: What You Don’t Know Could Cost You,” makes the business case for gender principles in marketing, explains the landscape of  women’s perceptions, and generates ideas on how to capitalize on this $7 trillion market including best practices for a diverse marketing team. 

 

Dr. Murase reported that the Justice & Courage Oversight Panel met on August 1, and received updates, on meetings with Department Heads.  The Oversight Panel met for a special meeting on August 20 to discuss the impact of the Sheriff’s situation on advancing the anti-domestic violence work that has led to the 80% decline in domestic violence homicide over the past 10 years. The Justice & Courage Oversight Panel will present its recommendation for the Commission to urge the Board of Supervisors to remove Ross Mirkarimi from the Sheriff’s Office later in tonight’s agenda.

 

Dr. Murase was pleased to announce that as a part of the San Francisco-Osaka Sister City Association, one of the oldest sister city relationships in the country, the Department will be hosting Mariya Wada, a college student, who will be at the Department the week of August 27.

 

Dr. Murase asked Commissioners to review the memo from the City Attorney of Political Activities by City Officers and Employees.

 

IV.                    Consent Agenda

All matters listed hereunder constitute a Consent Agenda and are considered to be routine by the Commission on the Status of Women.  They will be acted upon by a single roll call vote of the Commission.  There will be no separate discussion of these items unless a member of the Commission so requests, in which event the matter shall be removed from the Consent Agenda and considered as a separate item.  Members of the public may speak on each item listed on the Consent Agenda.

Action: Approve consent agenda.  

m/s/c (Shorter/Prowda/Unanimous)

 

A.           Resolution Recognizing Judge Donna Little on the Occasion of Her Retirement

B.           Resolution Recognizing Marci Seville on the Occasion of Women’s Equality Day

C.           Resolution Recognizing the 3% Conference on Women in Advertising

D.           Resolution Recognizing the 30th Anniversary of the Domestic Violence Consortium

E.           Resolutions Recognizing the 2012 CEDAW Women’s Human Rights Honorees

 

Judge Little expressed her appreciation for the recognition. She explained that, as Presiding Judge, she founded the Domestic Violence Court and appointed Judge Julie Tang to oversee it. Initially, the Public Defender's Office refused to staff the court, but with the leadership of then-Board of Supervisors President Barbara Kaufman, the Public Defender's Office was compelled to fulfill its duties in the new court. She also started the Family Violence Council to create a forum for interagency and community discussion and collaboration on addressing violence in the home.

 

Marci Seville of Golden Gate University thanked the Commission. She explained that her legal clinic focuses on domestic workers and caregivers and providing them with legal assistance.

 

Kat Gordon thanked the Commission and felt very humbled to be recognized. Ms. Gordon stated that female consumers drive the female market economy and that she is only 1 of 3% of women Creative Directors in the country despite the fact that women account for a large majority of purchasing decisions. The 3% Conference will bring together these professional women from across the country, for the first time, to participate in workshops focused on strengthening the influence of women in advertising and marketing.

 

Beverly Upton thanked the Commission for the recognition. She was joined by many members of the Consortium in accepting the honor. Ms. Upton described how the Consortium has grown to include emerging issues, and thanked the Commission for its strong partnership.  Orchid Pusey of Asian Women's Shelter expressed what an honor it is to be associated with the Consortium since 1988. Monica Walters, Executive Director of Donaldina Cameron House, stated that the partnership has been an important one to advance the fight against violence against women and recognized the efforts of Ms. Upton, in particular. Commissioners thanked Ms. Upton and the DVC for their dedicated efforts in the community every day.  Vice President Nancy Kirshner-Rodriguez thanked the DVC for their work with victims of violence and explained how challenging some of the work can be.  Vice President Kirshner-Rodriguez is pleased to see such a great relationship with Community Partners and the Department/Commission.  Commissioner Shorter echoed Vice President Kirshner-Rodriguez sentiments and believes that the DVC is a national model.    President Julie Soo appreciated the linguistically and culturally appropriate nature of the services provided by Partner Agencies. 

 

V.     NEW BUSINESS                                                       

 

A.            FY2011-2012 Violence Against Women Prevention &Intervention Grants Annual Performance Summary           

Graduate Fellow Katherine Ray presented the performance summary for the VAW Grants Program which details service hours and clients served by the 24 Partner Agencies providing services to women survivors of violence and their families.

Ms. Ray reported that the Department granted $2.7 million to the Partner Agencies for FY2011-2012, which helped serve 29,434 individuals and provided 40,908 hours of supportive services.  Ms. Ray presented data by client served by age, ethnicity and disabilities.  Ms. Ray explained that the 4 most spoken languages by clients were Spanish, Laotian, Cantonese, and Cambodian, and that our Partner Agencies operate 31 community-based programs for survivors of violence and their families.   

 

B.              Impact of the San Francisco Sheriff’s Situation on Domestic Violence Policy Work                                

On August 16, the Ethics Commission sustained charges of official misconduct against suspended Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi. Commissioner Andrea Shorter who chairs the Justice & Courage Oversight Panel introduced Panel Members and invited them to provide their perspective and present their recommendation. 

 

President Soo: And now we’ll move to the next item:  the impact of the San Francisco sheriff’s situation on domestic violence policy work.  Commissioners before you there is a recommendation from the Justice and Courage Oversight Panel on domestic violence policy reform on this particular issue.  Yes, I’d like to invite the chair of the Justice & Courage panel Andrea Shorter to introduce members of the panel who are here and would like to share their perspectives with the commission.

 

Andrea Shorter:  Certainly.  If the members of the Justice & Courage Panel could please come forward?

 

Great Commissioners, thank you for the opportunity to introduce once more this distinguished panel of folks.  As you know I chair the Justice & Courage Oversight Panel and along with me the Panelist comprised of Kathy Black who is the Executive Director of La Casa de Las Madres, Jamel Perkins who’s been a community leader and advocate against domestic violence.  Antonio Ramirez, Dr. Ramirez who is very formidable in the field of batterers intervention, and Dion Roberts who is Executive Director of Mary Elizabeth Inn.  And I don’t think that Ken Theisen is with us at the moment but Ken Theisen should also be acknowledged.  He is at the Bay Area Legal Aid and then Beverly Upton who, as we know, is the Executive Director of Domestic Violence Consortium and then certainly goes without saying Dr. Murase’s ex-officio member of the committee.  So the committee, or the Panel convened, as a special meeting on Monday and in doing so has issued a recommendation that you have before you to the Commission.  The Commission had actually requested of the panel to basically go back and keep an eye on the developments pertaining to the sheriff’s situation and then to come back to the Commission with some recommendations.  And so certainly following the Ethics Commission’s process to date the panel was then requested, or basically followed the request, to come back with a recommendation to this Commission in terms of the best way to respond.  So you have before you that recommendation and maybe one of the other panelists would like to talk further about any of the points of the recommendations?

 

Beverly Upton: Thank you.  Beverly Upton of the San Francisco Domestic Violence Consortium.  We thank you for the opportunity; we thank the Commission for the opportunity to make a recommendation regarding a very long process that the city and its residents have been through.  You can see by the recommendation we really wanted to highlight exactly what the Ethics Commission really wanted to highlight, which is domestic violence matters in San Francisco, that it is the most worrisome development in this case, we wanted to echo what the Ethics Commission brought forward in its decision, we wanted to support the mayor in his decision, and we wanted to urge the Commission on the Status of Women to move forward in supporting the mayor’s decision and now the Ethics Commission’s decision regarding official misconduct due to domestic violence.  Thank you.  I’d like to invite other members of the panel to give their perspective.

 

Kathy Black: Hi, my name is Kathy Black and I’m on the Justice & Courage Oversight Panel.  So I’d like to say that, again, that domestic violence is a serious public health and public safety issue in San Francisco, and elsewhere.  That is why this issue that we’re discussing today is bigger than one person, one case, and one incident.  This is about survivor safety, batterer accountability.  It’s about showing our community that San Francisco will prioritize the safety of survivors and take domestic violence seriously no matter who is perpetrating it.  I’ve not been surprised by the minimizing of the injury and unwillingness to take responsibility and blaming others.  Any sheriff who has pled guilty to false imprisonment, admitted under oath that he committed a violent act against his wife, and that at the time he did it he knew he had committed a crime, is not fit to serve as our sheriff.  I always want to say that we learned today that by a ratio of more than 2 to 1, the voters and San Franciscans want the Board of Supervisors to affirm the findings of the San Francisco Ethics Commission and I think that’s also a really important development so I urge you to adopt our recommendation.  Thank you very much.

 

Dion Roberts:  Good afternoon.  Dionne Roberts with Mary Elizabeth Inn, but I also serve on the Justice & Courage Panel and I’ve been doing so for 3 years now and I take seriously our role to ensure that various San Francisco agencies including the Sheriff’s Department are addressing and providing appropriate response to cases of domestic violence  – primarily that perpetrators are held accountable for their actions and treated in accordance with the law, and that victims are encouraged to expose their abusers and seek justice and seek help for themselves.  Cases of domestic violence are not private matters, which is how our Sheriff attempted to characterize this situation, which is nearly the same as tucking it under a rug.  One of our top law enforcement officers cannot remain in his position and be trusted to enforce laws pertaining to domestic violence offenses.  I recommend the Commission on the Status of Women urge our supervisors to remove our sheriff from his position.  Thank you.

 

Antonio Ramirez:  Hi.  I’m Antonio Ramirez.  I’ve been working with men who are abusive for 25 years and our task is to hold men who participate in programs accountable.  Meaning that they have to completely own their violence.  Any moment that we falter, ourselves personally, is an injury to the whole system, especially when someone who is so prominent like the sheriff, who is minimizing and denying the violence including with his violence.  I’ve seen that the public discourse has been hurt already because the understanding of domestic violence now in many spheres of the public are very minimizing of what happens in their home.  Just grabbing someone is not such a big deal, so the harm continues to grow.  So I urge you to adopt our suggestions and I recognize that the Sheriff or Mr. Mirkarimi is not fit to serve as Sheriff.

 

President Julie Soo: Thank you panel.  Commissioner Shorter, could you read the full recommendation into the record please?

 

Andrea Shorter:  Certainly.  So these are the recommendations of the Justice & Courage Oversight Panel on domestic violence policy reform as submitted to this Commission on the Status of Women:

 

In response to the San Francisco Commission on the Status of Women’s’ request for a recommendation the Justice & Courage Oversight Panel on domestic violence policy reform strongly supports the ethics Commission’s determination that Ross Mirkarimi’s domestic violence offense constitutes official misconduct and falls below the ethical conducts & standards San Francisco expects of a sheriff – a top law enforcement officer.  The ethics Commission ruled that Ross Mirkarimi, who pled guilty to a domestic violence charge, committed official misconduct.  Clearly Ross Mirkarimi is unfit to serve as San Francisco Sheriff.  The decision is now in the hands of the 11-member board of supervisors to carefully consider the evidence and facts.  The facts are:

1 – Ross Mirkarimi pled guilty to the domestic violence-related charge of false imprisonment

2 – he is sentenced to 3 years of probation and required to attend a 52-week program for batterers, and

3 – his court-supervised probation will span the majority of this term.

 

Therefore he is unfit to serve as a law enforcement agency leader overseeing programs that address domestic violence.  San Francisco’s approach to addressing domestic violence hinges on success San Francisco collaboration between all law enforcement agencies.  The Department on the Status of Women and community-based service providers who, last year, provided 30,000 people with hot lines, emergency shelters, and legal assistance.  This collaboration, built steadily over the last decade, has reduced domestic violence homicides in San Francisco by an astounding 80%.  Annually the San Francisco Police Department receives about 4000 cases of domestic violence.  The Justice & Courage Oversight Panel is committed, as ever, to its critical mission of advancing domestic violence policy reform in San Francisco, working in full collaborative partnership with all law enforcement leaders and agencies remains integral to protecting and advancing the 80% decline in domestic violence homicide.  San Francisco’s families facing domestic violence deserve and demand the utmost integrity, confidence and trust in all law enforcement officials, sworn to protect and serve the public safety.  We therefore strongly recommend that the Commission on the status of women urge the board of supervisors to remove Ross Mirkarimi from his position as sheriff at this time.

 

President Julie Soo:  Dr. Murase, at this time should we first review key policy proposals on domestic violence on the 3 policy reforms before we take public comment?

 

Executive Director Emily Murase:  Certainly.  The question before the Justice & Courage Oversight Panel was:  What is the impact of the status of the sheriff on the work of domestic violence policy reform?  And the work on domestic violence policy reform is really focused on fundamental response, victim-centered response, to domestic violence.  And the 3 policy reforms that the committee is currently focused on is:  first an officer-involved domestic violence policy, secondly, a workplace policy on domestic violence violence, and thirdly, a city-wide domestic violence policy and I want to invite back Beverly Upton to talk a little bit about the officer involved domestic violence policy.  She’s been doing a tremendous amount of work with the San Francisco Police Department under the leadership of Chief Greg Suhr and I’d like to have her say a few words.  In your packet there is a model policy from the Tacoma Police Department on this issue.

 

President Julie Soo:  Thank you, Dr. Murase. 

 

Beverly Upton:  In 2003 Crystal Judson was killed by her then Police Chief husband in Tacoma, Washington.  We were fortunate enough to meet her father, Lane Judson within a year or so of Crystal’s death.  They were struggling in Tacoma to deal with the tragedy that had happened.  She was killed in front of her children after a family court appearance.  The gentleman then turned the gun on himself.  It was a tremendous tragedy for Tacoma and we met them at a conference.  And he asked me then, Lane Judson, “Does San Francisco have an officer-involved policy?”  And at that time I knew that we had some officer-involved language in the general order.  San Francisco had been sensitive to this issue for quite some time.  I believe it started in the 80s.  But certainly it was not sufficient.  So over the years we have kept in touch with Tacoma, kept in touch with Washington State which ultimately adopted Tacoma’s officer-involved policy as a statewide policy as has Florida and several other states.  So in the last 10 months we have been working San Francisco Police Department and I must say they have been such good partners at the table; Chief Greg Suhr, Lt. Joe McFadden who has lots & lots of experience in domestic violence unit in internal investigations and is now the head of the crime scene unit.  So he’s been an excellent partner at the table.  I also want to thank Monica Walters from Cameron House, who was in Washington serving as a domestic violence executive director when it happened so we brought her expertise to the table as well.  So, for the last 10 months almost we’ve been meeting the domestic violence community with the San Francisco Police Department, the Sheriff’s department is now involved under interim Sheriff Hennessy’s leadership, and we are about 75% where we need to be towards a new officer-involved domestic violence policy.  So I’ve been honored to share that with the Commission, or the Justice & Courage Oversight Panel, and also with the Commission on the status of women and the department, and we’re thrilled to see it as one of the priorities for Justice & Courage Oversight Panel.  Thank you.

 

Executive Director Emily Murase:  Secondly on the workplace policy on domestic violence, San Francisco does have a zero tolerance policy for violence at the workplace.  But that’s quite different than if an employee shows up at the workplace with a black eye or having suffered verbal abuse or other forms of domestic violence.  So we have been in conversation with Paul Henderson, chief of staff of public safety, with Senior officials at the Department of Human Resources on what that workplace might look like.  City of LA has a workplace policy.  Many other cities and many other companies actually have workplace policies on domestic violence so we would really like to see the city & county of San Francisco come up to what has become common practice in other organizations.  Finally citywide domestic violence policy is a memorandum of understanding that was first proposed in an executive directive by then mayor Gavin Newsom as part of a portfolio of policy reforms and we have been working at the staff level with the Police Department, district attorney, adult probation, sheriffs, emergency management, on victim-centered response to domestic violence, and in that policy document at the very end of the memorandum of understanding are signature lines.  So there’s a signature line for police chief, signature line for adult probation chief, a signature line for sheriff.  And so there has been discussion at the Justice & Courage Oversight Panel about whether we can really ask a sheriff who is currently undergoing a 52-week batterers program to sign onto a document that assures citywide understanding of domestic violence response.  So these are the kinds of issues that the panel has been focused on and are sort of the basis of their recommendation today.

 

President Julie Soo:  Thank you, Dr. Murase.  At this time I’d like to take public comments, and I just want to remind those who have come in after my announcement that there are speaker cards for you to fill out.  And that you can return to Cynthia.  We ask that the commenters be respectful and the audience be respectful so no outbursts.  We will ask those making outbursts to be removed from this meeting or I will also help this meeting.  So first step:  2 minutes per person.  And the commissioners can ask questions but this is not a time to debate so the commissioners may ask question to clarify an issue and not entertain the commenter in debate.  First we have Juana Villegas.

 

Commissioner Gamez: President Soo may I ask a question, or to Emily?

 

President Julie Soo:  Yes.

 

Commissioner Gamez:   The document, Emily, that you mentioned that the chiefs sign, is that in our packet?

 

Executive Director Emily Murase:  No the chief hasn’t signed it.  This is a draft.  It’s a work in progress.

 

Commissioner Gamez:  Oh it’s a working draft for future use, not… it isn’t currently in use.

 

Executive Director Emily Murase:  Yes.

 

Commissioner Gamez:  OK, thank you.

 

Juana Villegas:  Good afternoon Commissioners and ?????.  My name is Juana Villegas and I am here because like any other woman I feel really offended that here you are talking about an issue about domestic violence without taking the words from the supposed victim in this case and I would like to know why this victim doesn’t get a personal invitation to attend this commission because I can’t believe people who is really concerned about victims of domestic violence they are supposed to support first the victim.  Not that . . . for who they are working, not because they are having really good relationship with the politic person around San Francisco and I just want you to know and put in your mind that you have to respect (tape flip) . . . the victim for . . . the process that I don’t see any following process in this case.  They never asked the victim did she need some help.  They never took the word from her so I am asking you to listen the victim.   Follow the process.  Don’t act before the victim asks for help because it’s a process.  And I don’t see anybody from the Casa de Las Madres following this process in the way it’s supposed to be.  Thank you.

 

President Julie Soo:  Next we have Aurora Grajeda and then Dion Roberts following that.

 

Aurora Grajeda: Good afternoon Commissioners.  My name is Aurora Grajeda. Inaudible.

 

President Julie Soo:  Yes.  Thank you.  Thank you.  And I called for Dion, but Dion we heard from you earlier.  Do you want to speak again? 

 

Dion Roberts:  No thank you. I provided my comments earlier. 

 

President Julie Soo:  OK.  Silvia Ramirez.  Sylvia?  And if we could have Lori Lederman get ready to speak after her?

 

Silvia Ramirez:  Good afternoon.  My name is Silvia Ramirez and I am a community organizer and also a domestic violence survivor.  I am from (inaudible)  in Redwood City and in San Francisco and I am very concerned because as a survivor of domestic violence again I’m just studying how people are saying that  he is a perpetrator of domestic violence.  He’d never accuse himself as a perpetrator, first of all.   And this Commission doesn’t say also the same thing.  So, they find him as an official misdemeanor but there wasn’t any surprise.  He did it in the last months.  So why people has been saying domestic violence.  And the other thing is that I hear that mayor’s decision’s commission so the city hall is not any more our house?  This is the house of (inaudible) the house of our community.  I’m also tired of hear that Gavin Newsom and some other officials making or adopting and recommending things against Ross Mirkarimi.  So did they really have the moral to still saying the same thing against him?  Also Ed Lee has a moral once.  He is a liar and we know that he doesn’t come to this position because he was really honest.

 

President Julie Soo:  I’d like to remind the speakers that we will not tolerate defamatory statements so I ask that the speakers speak solely to the issue without use of defamatory comments.

 

Thank you.  Next we have Lori Liederman.

 

Lori Liederman:  Good afternoon Commissioners.  The incident that took place on December 31, 2011 between Ross Mirkarimi and Eliana Lopez was dealt with through the criminal justice system.  It was anything but swept under the rug and it was anything but victim centered.  The sheriff was pummeled relentlessly by the media and by the domestic violence community which treated him as a pariah based solely on third party allegations.  The plea agreement resulted in a sentence, again, not swept under the rug.  The sheriff is serving that sentence and contrary to accusations leveled against him, he has repeatedly accepted full responsibility for his action.  The demand that he be removed and that the people of San Francisco lose our Democratically-elected sheriff is unjustified and excessively punitive, both to the Mirkarimi-Lopez family and to the Democratic process.  The Mirkarimi-Lopez family has suffered immeasurably and that needs to stop now.  The work of the domestic violence community is vital to our community.  I respect that work and I’m grateful for it.  But this case is not a poster child for the issue of domestic violence.  The wishes and statements of Eliana Lopez were summarily dismissed and discounted.  She was ignored and even infantilized and though she has proven herself to be a creative and articulate, confident, assertive and independent woman, she continues to be discounted.  I have heard a lot about how the final outcome of this case will send a message to victims and perpetrators of domestic violence.  I agree, it will send a message that any politician out of favor with the mayor may be subject to political persecution and potential loss of position if his or her conduct in any way is offensive to a particular group.  And it will send a message to women who are struggling with a decision as to whether they should report domestic violence.  If their husbands and fathers might be subject to the loss of employment and loss of income, they might well be less likely to come forward.  Please do not accept this resolution.  By disrespecting Eliana Lopez it disrespects all of us as women.  And as for the sheriff, his experience in this process will make him far more able to work in the sheriff’s department, not only with perpetrators . . .

 

President Julie Soo:  Next we have Vivian Imperiable and following that Francesca Rosa.

 

Vivian Imperiable:  My name is Vivian Imperiable.  I’m a city worker speaking as a private citizen on my own time.  Let’s stop for a moment and look at the status of one particular woman.  Eliana Lopez.  She was a beloved wife, mother, and professional woman.  She’s a strong take-charge woman who commands a room with her charm, intelligence and wit.  She took a strong position against being unjustly labeled as a victim, yet her protestations were turned around and used against her.  Ross Mirkarimi and Eliana Lopez are not part of the domestic violence demographic.  The only hurt in that household was caused by advocates who zeroed in on them instead of any number of actual victims.  The false characterization of Eliana’s life led to months of forced separation of the family.  The disingenuous nature of the labeling is evident when we know that not one agency contacted the couple.  Not one offered services to Eliana.  If they labeled her as a victim, why didn’t they try to help?  Instead of reaching out to her, the advocates reached out to the media.  Domestic violence advocates besmear their effort by taking advantage of a high profile couple and using them to gain publicity for themselves.  They should be ashamed of trying to destroy this loving family to increase their visibility.  They have disrespected the needs and wishes of Eliana.  They have no right to claim her and defame her.

 

President Julie Soo:  I’d just like to remind people to refrain from any outbursts or comment following public comment.  Francesca Rosa.

 

Francesca Rosa:  Hello Commissioners.  I’m a long time resident of San Francisco.  I work in social services but I’m speaking as a private citizen.  First I want to thank you for your service on the Commission.  I appreciate your willingness to volunteer your time for the city.  I know it takes a lot of time and energy to do this.  But I very respectfully submit that you all have a conflict of interest due to the fact that this Commission is appointed by the Mayor’s office, and also funded by the Mayor’s office.  So when asked to make a decision that the Mayor has taken a very strong position on, in this case Sheriff Mirkarimi, the elected sheriff - I want to stress the word elected - being removed from the job he was elected to by the voters of San Francisco, you will not be able to act with the objective independence needed, even though again I really respect your role as Commissioners.  We all know how serious an issue domestic violence is, and that groups like Casa de Las Madras have done very excellent work helping battered women survive their abusers.   But many of us are very troubled by a complete lack of the concept of proportionality in this instance.  The one size fits all concept that a one-time low level offense should be treated in the same manner as the behavior of a serial batterer who causes ongoing physical and psychological abuse to a woman who has no means of escape or is in denial.  I also have a concept and, again, I work in social services and my title is Direct Service Professional that professionals always know better than the families themselves who are affected.  And no I don’t think they always know better and I think that the first, you know, that people should actually consult with the families in question.  And this is a family that very much wants to stay together.  And Eliana Lopez is a very strong woman and she very much wants to rebuild her marriage and I think that that should really be listened to.  I also note that former sheriff Mike Hennessy, who was respected across the law enforcement community and the political spectrum, has stated that he thinks that Ross Mirkarimi

 

President Julie Soo:  Thank you.  Rosario Cervantes?  Rosario?  Yes.

 

Rosario Cervantes:  Afternoon Commissioners.  My name is Rosario Cervantes and I live in the District 11.  I just want to say, aren’t we here to seek the truth?  I understand everyone has a point of view here and I understand the domestic violence do excellent work but you’ve got the wrong person here, the sheriff.  He is serving probation for his 3 years and he is not a batterer.  You have Eliana Lopez.  Nobody listened to her.  Her voice got lost in the process and you destroyed a family.  You destroyed a son, 3-year old Theo Mirkarimi and I just believe that what, I am totally against what you’re saying and I believe that everybody should get a fair chance and there was no violence here and I believe that the domestic violence groups just have the wrong person and he wants to redeem himself and we should let the voters, the 84,000 people who vote for him, remain the sheriff because he is a good sheriff.  Thank you.

 

President Julie Soo:  Next we have Eliana Lopez.  Following that, Paula Canny.

 

Eliana Lopez:  Hello Commissioners.  I’m not impressed that I was not invited to this meeting.  That shows, again, once again, after 8 months how my voice has been dismissed.  How anyone cares, I’ve been betrayed, not only for cold friends, for organizations that should be trying to help me.  Trying to hear me.  Being in my side.  Any one of them.  Not the Mayor.  Not the District Attorney.  Not anyone.  Any of you have been trying to reach me or hear me.  Something important in domestic violence is intent.  Ross never intent to hurt me.  We are not talking here about murders or any like that.  So let’s be clear what is this is about.  Use a family as a weapon to destroy it.  A politician is wrong.  And if you support as a women, you support that resolution, you are betraying again the women.  Thank you.

 

President Julie Soo:  Paula Canny?

 

Paula Canny:  Hi.  My name is Paula Canny.  I’m a lawyer.  It’s hard to get a lawyer to say anything in two minutes but here goes.  I was a deputy DA in 1981.  I was part of the first pilot project in domestic violence prosecution in the state of CA in Ventura.  So I can not believe that I am standing before you all in this position.  As Eliana said, it’s a matter of intent, and the other thing I want to try and get across is the criminal justice system is a flawed system.  Ross Mirkarimi took a plea bargain.  The plea that he took is the plea bargain that is routinely offered any time law enforcement is involved in an alleged domestic violence offense.  It’s considered to not be a domestic violence charge.  It is a charge that allows a police officer to keep their firearms and maintain their employment.  And so if you believe in the criminal justice system part of it is rehabilitation.  Part of it is compassion for the defendant as well as for the victims and I’m saying too by what’s transpired here to have it being so vitriolic and hate-filled, we’ve all done each other a grave disservice.  I have worked for many years to stop the problem of domestic violence, but that’s not what’s happened here.  By turning this into something that it isn’t, and that’s been done by the press, it’s horrible.  I mean in terms of how much, I don’t know if you could really even stop the tide of this.  But I’m asking you to listen to Eliana.  I’m asking you to understand the nature of a plea bargain, because the reality of it is most domestic violence cases aren’t filed.  That’s a problem.  What is filed when it goes to trial, they don’t get convictions in San Francisco.  So Ross did the proverbial step-up-to-the-plate and now he’s completely condemned when it ought to be exactly the other way.  So, you know, there’s my 2 minutes.  Thanks.

 

President Julie Soo:  Thank you.  Isabel Gutierrez?  After Isabel, Beatrice Herrera?

 

Isabel Gutierrez:  I will try not to use defamatory language, although I must say that using the word batterer and Ross Mirkarimi in the same sentence to me is defamatory since I don’t believe that he is.  And I’m going to repeat something that I said at the last Ethics Commission meeting.  Domestic violence is not a private issue.  It’s not a private matter.  As a woman I totally agree with that statement.  However, I do not believe that this case falls in the category of domestic violence.  This was simply an argument between a husband and a wife.  I am a strong Latina woman and Eliana Lopez is a strong Latina woman.  She is an independent, intelligent woman, as am I.  We would never allow ourselves to be victims of battery.  We would never allow ourselves to be victims of domestic violence.  How many times is she supposed to say that, those words?  How many times is she supposed to say, I was not a victim of domestic violence?  And how many times are they supposed to say, oh but yes you were.  But I wasn’t.  Yes you were.  I wasn’t.   Yes you were.  How many times?  And I also want to say, Ross did take responsibility.  He took responsibility and he keeps taking responsibility.  As far as that poll that was taken is concerned, I want to know who was asked.  I wasn’t asked.  Certainly the people that show up week after week, or commission meeting after commission meeting, that stand in line for hours were not asked.  Certainly not the lady who was the very first lady in line for a 5pm meeting.  And I asked her, what time did you get here?  And she said 8am, for a 5pm meeting.  I brought myself some water, I brought myself some fruit, and I brought myself a little chair, and I’m going to stay here until 5pm because I feel that strongly because Ross would come out in his pajamas in the middle of the night when there was an incident, and he came to comfort us when our sons were murdered in the streets of San Francisco.  I also want to know, why are these organizations wasting time and resources when there are women that are being battered that need their help.  Eliana does not need your help.  Ross Mirkarimi needs to get his job back, he needs to get paid.  And one more thing, where were these ladies when Miss Hayes-White, the chief, OK.

 

President Julie Soo:  Beatrice Herrera?

 

Beatrice Herrera:  I have been a domestic violence advocate for 6 years and help immigrant victims of domestic violence.  I hope this will stop women from reporting domestic violence. Many victims feel scared that no one will believe them or that they will be deported.  Domestic violence is not ok.  I urge the Commission to support the Ethics Commissions recommendation to remove Ross Mirkarimi. 

 

President Julie Soo:  Next we have, is it Yoly Magallanes?  And Lucia Ray-Guilien.

 

Yoly Magallanes:  (inaudible) . . . to me it’s a matter of common sense.  Someone who has been convicted of a crime can not oversee the imprisonment and rehabilitation of those convicted of similar crimes.  This is not a personal matter against the suspended sheriff.  It’s about the facts.  And it’s bigger than just one case.  If the suspended sheriff is reinstated, it will not only set a bad precedent for our city’s elected officials, but most importantly it will send a dangerous message to our community – victims and batterers alike.  Everyone is watching, not just our community but the nation as a whole.  We can not change an elected official’s choices, but we can change who we choose to represent San Francisco as a sheriff.  Thank you.

 

President Julie Soo:  Lucia?

 

Lucia Ray-Guilien:  Hello my name is Lucia Ray-Guilien, and I am a domestic violence advocate.  If Ross Mirkarimi is reinstated as San Francisco sheriff it will send a wrong message to victims of domestic violence.  I work with victims who report their abuse to the police every day.  I am deeply concerned that failing to hold Mirkarimi responsible for his actions will have a silencing effect on survivors city-wide and beyond.  They will be scared to come forward, afraid that their batterer will also get away with the abuse.  As a result they will stay in danger.  Please, I urge you to support the Ethics Commission recommendation, as victims’ lives could be held in balance.  Thank you.

 

President Julie Soo:  Next we have Debra Walker.  Following Deborah Walker, Tammy Bryant.

 

Debra Walker:  Commissioners, first of all I want to thank you for your time.  I know, I’m a Commissioner myself and it’s a lot of time and effort and this is a very emotional and very complex issue.  I always want to thank the DV advocates for the work they’ve done over the decades.  A lot of us have done together to make sure that we have made advances to protect victims of domestic violence.  It is very disturbing that no one here, that no one here, has talked to the person that you are describing as a victim of domestic violence.  No one else in this process is calling this a domestic violence.  The people involved have denied that it is, and they’ve told their own story of what happened.  The 2 people who were part of it.  And the fact that you all are moving forward, you all have apparently funded a poll, which actually I did get a call and I was offended at its anti-Mirkarimi questions.  It was definitely a push poll meant to determine an outcome which you got.  There’s another poll on SFGate where it’s 3-to-1 not supporting removal from office.  So if you’re going to go on polls you have to look at all of them.  But what I would ask instead is that you listen to the person you’re describing as the victim here, Eliana Lopez, who’s saying this is not an issue of domestic violence, that they did have an issue that I actually think our sheriff has come forward and trying to move forward, at the pressure of everyone to do the right thing, and stop the nonsense, stop the witch hunt.  And that is what it is.  And quite frankly I want to say that I think that honesty under oath is an important issue.  We would not be here if there was more honesty in City Hall.  And maybe we don’t expect it here, but I certainly expect it under oath.

 

President Julie Soo:  Tami Bryant?

 

Tami Bryant:  I’m a resident of District 5 and I’ve worked with the sheriff as a constituent for 7 years.  I am here because I believe Eliana and I believe in Eliana.  All we want is love, justice and democracy.  I raised two wonderful daughters and I was raised by a lesbian feminist and I myself survived domestic violence 2 decades ago, so I should be your natural ally.  But so far, we’re not allies.  You have taken an adversarial and counterproductive position on the sheriff since Day 1.  In fact since the beginning, you characterized Ross as the worst villain of all times, even after working with him for years.  To end domestic violence, you never thought of taking the situation and turning it around into an example of what people can and should do.  People can learn from their mistakes, get the resources they need and move forward.  Why was your first reaction a negative over-reaction?  You dismissed his wife, you dismissed his long-time ex who stated that in their 7 years together he never, ever had a physical outburst.  You can not define the entire character of a person by one split second of time.  He accepted responsibility and is following the requirements set forth by the court.  There’s been no fair process.  It’s been a one-sided conversation the whole time, and in that you’ve dismissed the majority of women in San Francisco.  There are a lot of women in the Western Addition who are furious at the thought of their vote being stolen.  Trust me, Sheriff Mirkarimi did not commit official misconduct.  This was not on City time or City premises.  There are no city resources involved in any of this.  Sheriff Mirkarimi will have no trouble overseeing the programs and the personnel of the sheriff’s department.  In fact, I have noticed a brotherhood among law enforcement where they forgive one another and I am sure they will see their boss as a great man with human characteristics and I don’t see a problem with that.  I urge you to think of the majority of women who are outraged by the attack on the sheriff and will not agree with you by voting to have him removed.  It will show real courage and commitment to justice to vote down this recommendation.  This was not a criminal act, it was a moment of family crisis.  You have disempowered and very powerful woman.  We as women are not here to disempower women, we are here to empower them.  Thank you.

 

President Julie Soo:  Erica McDonald?

 

Erica McDonald:  I actually have something to pass out to you all.  My name is Erica McDonald and I’m very distraught to stand before you today and the reason why I am so distraught is because I am a violent crime survivor.   A violent felony was committed against me when I was attacked on the streets of this city.  I was denied justice by the San Francisco Police Department.  An officer came out who was very nice, who took a report, I was crying my eyes out, I was hysterical.  The problem came the following Monday when I tried to pursue my case.  I encountered a woman, I have a copy of her business card as well as my case number right here.  Her name is Laura Gardner.  She gave me less than 2 minutes of her time.  She refused to collect evidence.  There was physical evidence – a broken purse strap, a broken watch, I had bruises all up and down my arms and on my abdomen because I was dragged over a wooden fence!  The man who attacked me was a young adult male in a red and blue mesh tank top with several very large and loud gold chains around his neck.  I know he was following me because I heard the gold chains.  I was working as a waitress at the time.  I made less than $24,000 a year.  I was coming home (inaudible) night and this is the treatment that I received from law enforcement in this community.  Yet I’m here to tell you that Ross Mirkarimi was elected Sheriff for a reason.  And he was elected because the people of this city are fed up.  With a 2000-strong highly paid police force that is ineffective at best and brutal at worst.  I want to know what you are going to do to make sure that my daughters never have to face this situation.  My oldest daughter, Amy, started kindergarten this very week at Buena Vista-Horace Mann.  She is a public school student.  We live in the Mission.  It’s a high crime area.  Not once have I seen any cop out there walking a beat.  I do not have a car myself, I don’t drive, I came here on BART and I’m still out of breath.  I have to run back to child care by 6 o’clock to pick up my children.  And if you take our law enforcement (inaudible) Ross Markarimi away from us, I’m going to hold each and every one of you personally responsible if anything bad ever happens to me or my family.  There was a murder on my block just earlier this summer.

 

President Julie Soo:  Excuse me.  We have one more speaker, Dennis Mosgofian?

 

Denis Mosgofian: Commissioners, my name is Dennis Mosgofian.  I’m a native San Franciscan.  I’m a father of 3.  I’m still married.  And domestic violence is a serious issue.  Even minor violence is serious.  This wasn’t, this wasn’t domestic violence.  Did you hear Commissioner Studley on the last day of testimony?  After the vote?  She said, you know, I don’t think we can call the December 31st instance domestic violence.  There’s no pattern.  There’s no history.  Despite 5 months of hearing, and I went to every one of the hearings, because I saw this as political, I didn’t see this as domestic violence.  And I care.  I’ve got a daughter.  I’ve got a wife.  I’ve got a mother.  And I’ve grown up on the streets of San Francisco so I know violence.  You need to listen.  They didn’t prove domestic violence.  They decided it was official misconduct despite the fact that when it happened, but none of them at that Commission, nor the Mayor’s Office, ever reached out to talk to the victim.  The victim walked right past a demonstration of the domestic violence consortium outside on City Hall steps.  They didn’t know who she was.  I find that astonishing.  I don’t think that’s a joke.  I think that’s really serious.  If you don’t care about the victim, but you’re victim-centric you’re lying.  This was an opportunist effort to get the glare of the press and to generate funds.  And it worked.  But it’s not appropriate, and you guys should not be used in this process.  And as far as the Mayor is concerned, his entire behavior in this thing was disingenuous.  The (inaudible) did not find what is being claimed.  He was never really found to be a batterer.  And I think it’s important that you understand that.

 

President Julie Soo:  Thank you.  Thank you.  Commissioners, I’d like to entertain comment from you on the issue, the final issue.  We haven’t called the question yet, but I’d like to hear from you.  Any comments?

 

Commissioner Alicia Gamez:  I do have, if it’s appropriate, I would like some clarification, maybe Andrea, rather than addressing it to the public maybe I can address it to the Commission.  Regarding the statement that we’re voting on that does characterize this as a domestic, as a, it says, (inaudible) that Ross Mirkarimi’s domestic violence offense constitutes, and he pled guilty to the domestic violence charge.  My understanding of what Ross Mirkarimi pled to is that it was a misdemeanor false imprisonment charge.  If violence had actually been involved, it would have by law have been a felony.  So by definition of what he was charged with as something that was non-violent, my understanding is further that the courts in California have already interpreted misdemeanor false imprisonment to be by definition something an act for which, in which there is no intent to harm.  Therefore, a court in November 5, 2010 in California found that it was therefore not a crime of moral turpitude.  And so I’m just wondering about the language of domestic violence here.

 

Commissioner Stephanie Simmons:  Can I ask a question while you’re . . .

 

Commissioner Alicia Gamez: Sure, sure.

 

Commissioner Kay Gulbengay:  I’m just wondering, Dr. Murase, is it our charge to, has it already been determined, we have a recommendation from the Ethics Commission and the Justice & Courage Panel is asking us as a Commission to either recommend this to the Board of Supervisors, their recommendation.  So, are we, we’re not here to determine whether or not Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi committed domestic violence or did not commit domestic violence.  That seems to be a recommendation from the Ethics Commission to the Board of Supervisors, and as the process goes on it’s determined by the Board of Supervisors whether or not Sheriff Mirkarimi will be the Sheriff or not.  I’m just wondering, Dr. Murase, if you could clarify.

 

Executive Director Emily Murase:   I did offer my perspective.  My perspective is the criminality of what Ross Mirkarimi did was decided in the courts.  That was the courts’ thing.  They had to decide was it criminal, was it not criminal.  He has been sentenced to 52 weeks of a batterer’s intervention program.  That’s fact.  What the Ethics Commission was asked to determine was whether the Sheriff’s behavior constituted official misconduct.  They found that his behavior constituted official misconduct.  What’s before the Commission, the recommendation from the Justice & Courage Oversight Panel is, the impact of having a sheriff, any sheriff, who has pled guilty to false imprisonment, against an intimate partner, which constitutes domestic violence.  That impact on the ability . . .

 

President Julie Soo:  Excuse me.  If you’d like to take your conversations outside you’re welcome to do that.  We’re trying to conduct our meeting here.  Thank you.

 

Executive Director Emily Murase:  . . . the ability to advance domestic violence policy reform and the spirit of the recommendation is that this Sheriff would really have a negative impact on the ability of this Commission to advance its work on domestic violence policy reform.  So the question before the Commission is, whether or not to urge the Board of Supervisors to remove Ross Mirkarimi from his position of sheriff.

 

Commissioner Kay Gulbengay:  OK.  Thank you.

 

Commissioner Alicia Gamez:  Question of clarification.  Is the question before us whether to urge removal or whether to approve the statement presented to us by Justice  & Courage?  Because the question I have is whether the statements as presented in the Justice & Courage Oversight Panel are accurate.  Again, I think Emily did a good job of summarizing some of the points for us there that misdemeanor false imprisonment was the charge, that the Ethics Commission determined through its own process whether there was official misconduct, but the language here advocates in a manner I’m not sure that it adheres strictly enough to the facts.

 

Commissioner Andrea Shorter:  Well, what fact in particular?  The fact that he is convicted of a false imprisonment?

 

Commissioner Alicia Gamez:  Sure.

 

Commissioner Andrea Shorter:  The fact that he’s on probation for 3 years?  The fact that he has to submit to a 52-week program for batterer’s intervention?

 

Commissioner Alicia Gamez:  The statement reads in response to the San Francisco Commission on the Status of Women request for information, Justice & Courage Oversight Panel on domestic violence policy reform strongly supports the Ethics Commission determination that Ross Mirkarimi’s domestic violence offense.  I don’t know that that’s what was said there.  I don’t know that that was their determination.

 

Commissioner Andrea Shorter:  Well, I think that in the State of California, that false imprisonment actually is consistent with domestic violence offense.  Is it correct that after 30 something years of this Commission’s being involved in domestic violence policy reform?

 

Commissioner Alicia Gamez:  Well again, a misdemeanor is by definition not a violent act.

 

Commissioner Andrea Shorter:  I don’t know that that’s accurate.

 

Commissioner Alicia Gamez:  It is.  If force or violence is involved, by definition it has to be a felony.  So that’s kind of what’s concerning me.  You know.  One of the issues here that’s what’s concerning me.  And I would like to, well, let’s stick to the one topic for the moment before we . . .

 

Commissioner Andrea Shorter:  Well the Sheriff has falsely imprisoned someone so you don’t take issue with that.  But you’re taking issue with the use of the term domestic violence offense.  That’s what you’re trying to deconstruct?

 

Commissioner Alicia Gamez:  I’m just, as a Commissioner who’s being asked to vote on a statement, I want to make sure that the statement is . .

 

Commissioner Andrea Shorter:  No, I know.  I’m asking for you to further clarify.  I’m still not clear on what you are.  What are you deconstructing?  What are you specifically . . .

 

Commissioner Alicia Gamez:  Well as I mentioned earlier, the 4th line from the top reads:  Mirkarimi’s domestic violence offense constitutes official misconduct.  I do, my understanding of what the Ethics Commission did was they found official misconduct.  I don’t know that they characterized it.  It said here he pled guilty to a domestic violence charge.  He pled to misdemeanor false imprisonment, which by definition is the momentary retention of someone without use of force or threat.

 

Commissioner Andrea Shorter:  So are you retrying the case, because again as it’s been stated, the case has been tried. 

 

Commissioner Alicia Gamez: I’m not retrying.

 

Commissioner Andrea Shorter:  Are you asking specifically with the Ethics Commission?  Are you, I’m still not clear on what . . .

 

Commissioner Alicia Gamez:  The term violence.

 

Commissioner Andrea Shorter:  OK, so as used by the Ethics Commission, are you, by the state?  What are you . .

 

Commissioner Alicia Gamez:  Used by, in the statement.

 

Commissioner Andrea Shorter:  OK.  OK.  Alright.  Well, we’ve not asked you for that but thank you for your offer.   Yeah.

 

Commissioner Julie Soo:  Excuse me.  If you’d like to keep your conversations outside, we’re trying to conduct a meeting here and I’d allow time for Commissioner Shorter to respond.

 

Commissioner Andrea Shorter:    Well, certainly in our understanding, having witnessed the Ethics Commission’s deliberation on this matter, that domestic violence was in fact inherent as an offense in its constitution of official misconduct.  So, therefore, the statement that you are requesting, I suppose further clarification, I think stands as it is.  That it is a domestic violence-related offense.  It constituted official misconduct, and does fall below the ethical conduct and standards San Francisco expects of a sheriff.  So I’m certainly appreciate your, the fact that you’re weighing certainly with all due consideration, the statement, but that was the interpretation and the understanding as rendered by the Ethics Commission.  Therefore the statement is as it is.

 

Commissioner Alicia Gamez:  Do we have the Ethics Commission statement?  Do we have that statement?  Do we have the statement that was handed down by them?

 

Commissioner Andrea Shorter: I’m trying to find the email that was sent to me.

 

President Julie Soo:  Emily do we have that statement?

 

Executive Director Emily Murase:  That has not been issued yet.  So they made a determination that Ross Mirkarimi did commit official misconduct.  They’re having their attorneys draft that statement.

 

Commissioner Alicia Gamez:  OK.

 

Commissioner Stephanie Simmons:   I just wanted to ask Dr. Murase, do we need to vote on the language of this particular statement or the conclusions?  It seems to me that we are making a recommendation just based on that very bottom sentence of this recommendation and I don’t know, Commissioner Shorter, if you have any more clarification. 

 

Commissioner Andrea Shorter: The conclusion, thank you President Soo.  So the conclusion of the recommendation of the Panel is that the Commission on the Status of Women urged the Board of Supervisors to remove Ross Mirkarimi based on its finding of official misconduct.

 

Commissioner Stephanie Simmons:   I have to say, and I think I understand where Commissioner Gamez is coming from, because we had a former Deputy District Attorney up here explaining to us what the actual charge of false imprisonment does and does not mean, so if I’m going to vote based on the language of this document, I want to make sure the language correctly reflects what the actual charges are.  I mean, that’s how I feel.  So I think her question, you know because we all, we want to get it right, but I don’t want to attach my vote to something where I feel like the information has been misrepresented.

 

President Julie Soo:  Are there other comments from other Commissioners?

 

As I understand it, it was a domestic violence-related charge and not a plea to domestic violence per se, but it’s still the false imprisonment was related to a domestic violence incident.  So, and I understand I’m very much into language and nuances.  And I understood this document to mean domestic violence-related charge under the Facts paragraph.  And if we are to look at the statement and if we feel like we need to support the statement depending on how we vote on this, if Commissioners want to vote on the entirety of the statement, I would recommend amending where it says domestic violence offense on the first paragraph to domestic violence-related offense.

 

Commissioner Alicia Gamez:  May I in that (inaudible) remind us again if violence had been in this charge it would have been a felony.  He did not plead to a violent offense.  He pled to an offense that, by definition, if force or violence had been involved it would have been a felony.  Misdemeanor false imprisonment is, by definition, non-violent.  Therefore my questions have (inaudible) the term violence.  It was a domestic event perhaps, but I don’t know if it was violent.  Where actually, the facts do not support a claim of violence.

 

Commissioner Becca Prowda:  So one thing that I would just add is that I feel like what we’re being asked is whether or not we think that something that happened constitutes misconduct and falls below the ethical conduct and standards for someone who is in a top position of law enforcement in this city.  That’s really what’s at the heart of this.  Is this an ethical conduct?  Is this the standard to which we on this Commission are going to hold our law enforcement officers to?  So, for me, what we’re sort of discussing here is semantics and I know that words are important and they’re particularly important in this case, but it was my understanding that we were asked provide an action around whether what was pled to falls below the ethical conduct and standards that we expect for our sheriff.

 

Commissioner Stephanie Simmons: I understand that but that’s not what it says in the statement and I guess, and I understand where you’re saying that’s what we’re being asked but once, you know, this is a public forum and once it goes in the record I don’t know that I agree with the characterization of a domestic violence offense.  I don’t know that I agree with that and I don’t, once this is all over and this is part of the record, people will go back and read this and say, the members of the Commission on the Status of Women voted to endorse this based on the representation that Ross Mirkarimi created a violent offense, and I don’t feel comfortable.  I’m being honest.  I don’t feel comfortable attaching my name to that.  I understand where you’re coming from and I understand the question, but as it’s being represented it’s very easy to say that words are important, they’re very important because once we’re all gone, someone can pull from this testimony and say no no, that’s what they said . . . . . . (cassette flip) . . . . . . so for this I need to feel better about how this is characterized, what’s written here.

 

President Julie Soo:  I have a question of Dr. Murase.  Could we entertain this because I know this is agendized so it is public notice that we’re taking action on this particular item?  Can we divorce ourselves from the particular statement and still find misconduct in order to recommend removal or not recommend removal to the Board of Supervisors?

 

Executive Director Emily Murase:  Yes, so if the Commission would like they can vote on whether or not they support the last 2 lines of the statement.  Or whether they support the statement in total, or whether adjustment to language will garner more support.  So those are 3 options; at least 3 options.

 

Commissioner Alicia Gamez:  May I, in response to Commissioner Prowda’s question, for your information, this question of whether false imprisonment inherently means moral turpitude, has been litigated and it has been found not to be moral turpitude.  So I don’t know, you know, where the line of moral turpitude falls between misconduct and moral turpitude, but normally for an elected official, I think that you have to, in order to undo an election, and to go against a fundamental basis of our government, which is election by the people, there’s gotta be some basis or some standard that would go against, be sufficient to nullify an election.  That is a very significant issue.   If we’re removing this from domestic violence, the next question is, OK, this is not about domestic violence, does it fail a standard?  OK, I believe that then opens it up into a discussion of what are the issues?  What are the factors that bear in removing an elected official from office?  Where do we go from there?  The CA courts have interpreted false imprisonment and they have found it to not be “moral turpitude” precisely because by definition false imprisonment does not inherently mean that there was an intent to harm.  No intent to harm in false imprisonment.

 

Commissioner Kay Gulbengay:  Madam President?

 

Commissioner Julie Soo:  Yes.

 

Commissioner Kay Gulbengay:  May I make a suggestion?

 

Commissioner Julie Soo:  Yes.

 

Commissioner Kay Gulbengay:  Having dealt with language all my life.   So the last sentence where it says we strongly recommend, we could say, just throwing it out to everyone, the Commission on the Status of Women urge the Board of Supervisors to remove Ross Mirkarimi from his position as sheriff for official misconduct.  Because that’s the question that’s going to come before the Board of Supervisors.  That’s their charge to either decide whether he should be removed or not be removed for official misconduct.  We know in the media, we’ve heard what the official misconduct could be, or is not.  But for this body I think we’re just sending over an urge to the Board whether or not we request the Board to remove Sheriff Mirkarimi for official misconduct.  I don’t know if that satisfies Commissioner Simmons.

 

Commissioner Andrea Shorter:  Commissioner, could you restate what you are offering as an amendment?

 

Commissioner Kay Gulbengay:  That the Commission on the Status of Women urges the Board of Supervisors to remove Ross Mirkarimi from his position as Sheriff for official misconduct.

 

Commissioner Julie Soo:  Thank you.

 

Commissioner Stephanie Simmons:  Again, I think because the Ethics Commission, their actual statement and their decision has not been disclosed to the public, again, I don’t know how we can really take a position supporting their decision or not supporting it.  Again, I just, I want to be fair.  I just want to be fair.  And I’m not comfortable taking a position when we don’t even have what the decision, what the fully disclosed decision and the written decision of what the Ethics Commission had to say.  So if we’re supporting, I don’t know how we can support it when we haven’t seen it yet, I guess is my point.

 

Executive Director Emily Murase:  If I may, the Ethics Commission did make a ruling and that was publicly, I mean I, we sat through 6 hours of public comment and they made a decision and many of the Commissioners were there, they watched the proceedings so there was a public vote to find that the Sheriff did commit official misconduct.

 

Commissioner Alicia Gamez:    And that’s true.  We don’t have their dossier yet to understand how that relates specifically to the Commission on the Status of Women.  I think that the testimony here that we’ve heard today has raised significant issues regarding, you know, we are the Commission on the Status of Women.  Part of our overview is domestic violence programs in San Francisco.  I believe I am accurate in saying that every single person in this room is against domestic violence and supports victims.  I also think it’s probably very safe to say that every person in this room believes that a woman has a right to be the author of her own life and make her own decisions.  As some of you know I’m an attorney and I practice in probate and estate and tax, and one of the things that I work on . . .

 

Commissioner Andrea Shorter:  Commissioner, if I might . . .

 

Commissioner Alicia Gamez:    May I finish?

 

Commissioner Andrea Shorter:  Yes, please do.

 

Commissioner Alicia Gamez:    On conservator . . .   Excuse me.  On conservatorship proceedings for people who are being legally declared incompetent.  It’s very hard to do that.  Right?  It’s very hard to remove, it’s considered a violent act against them, it’s abridgement of their civil rights to take away the ability for an individual to make their own decisions and run their own lives.  And in this setting there is a point at which women’s rights, women’s autonomy, and domestic violence structures, legal structures, come in to some conflict.  And we’ve heard that today in public testimony, and so as we consider this I think it is important to keep the public testimony in mind, and remember that removing a woman’s right to run her own life and make her own decisions is not something to be taken lightly.

 

President Julie Soo:  Excuse me.  We set the ground rules at the beginning of the meeting so I’d ask the public to refrain from any reaction to comment.  Commissioner Shorter.

 

Commissioner Andrea Shorter:    Commissioner, I wholeheartedly agree with you and having been a member of this Commission for a little over a decade now, the work that I have certainly committed myself to doing is exactly that.  I don’t take it lightly.  And I certainly don’t take any particular protest or accusation that we are taking it lightly or that we have denied any particular woman or individual her right to pursue her course of action her way.  We have not denied that at all.  So there is certainly the intent to take into consideration not only the public comment that has been made here today as we move forward, but also to take into consideration other issues in terms of our ability to move forward and make sure that all San Franciscans are availed of the right to pursue life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in a safe way.  And certainly under the command and direction of law enforcement chiefs in which they have complete, or considerable trust and confidence in their ability to do so.  So, I certainly, I am wholeheartedly in accord in agreement with you in terms of standing to protect any woman’s right to speak of her own accord.  No one has been denied that.  Certainly not in this public forum and in this public body.  People may not be receiving personal invitations, but it is a public body.  So at the same time we want to make sure that we move forward with respect for what we are charged as Commissioners, and that is on the issues of governance.  And our ability to work, or our inability to work in a cooperative and collaborative fashion with the current chairperson, so those are considerations.  No one is out to harm, no one is out to pose any particular harm to any particular individual or their family.  That is not the intent.

 

Commissioner Alicia Gamez:    I’m sorry if my statement made, is provoking this response.  I certainly did not suggest that to you.

 

Commissioner Andrea Shorter:  You don’t have to apologize because you know I’m going to tell you exactly what I think.

 

Commissioner Alicia Gamez:    But I didn’t suggest it.

 

Commissioner Andrea Shorter:    Well, OK.  OK.

 

Commissioner Alicia Gamez:    I’m glad you’re telling me and everyone what you think, but let’s just be clear that that comment is not in response to my comment.

 

Commissioner Andrea Shorter:  Yeah, well.  So.  I would like to have the Commission entertain the amendment that Commissioner Gulbengay has suggested.

 

President Julie Soo:  Commissioner Gulbengay you looked like you had something to day.

 

Commissioner Kay Gulbengay:  I do have something to say because I’m looking at the timing of when the Ethics Commission actually delivers their materials and documents to the Board of Supervisors and then the Board has, I believe, 30 days to actually decide it.  I’m all for voting on the amendment but I’m wondering is there urgency that there are members of the Commission that have questions, not having seen the document.  Is there an urgency that we have to act on this tonight and possibly do that at September’s meeting?  The Board is in recess until September 4th I think, and we might even be closer to getting a recommendation, closer to when they’re going to be having it before them.  I’m willing to go either way; I’m just trying to address other people.

 

Commissioner Andrea Shorter:    If it satisfies the Commission we can certainly do that.  We basically came back as the Panel as was requested from the Commission after the Ethics Commission had adjourned and to do so in short order.  So it is certainly up to the Commission as to whether or not it wants to gather more information as far as with what the Ethics piece was.  We basically were following through on the request of the Commission on the Status of Women to report very promptly following the Ethics Commission’s report, so as the chair of the Panel, unless there are clear objections from other members of the Panel, that’s something that we would be willing to, if that is the druthers of the Commission.  However, I would like to state that I do think that in projection that we will still more than likely come to the same conclusion in terms of language and commentary.  And the intent for the Commission to take a stand are, to advise, the Board of Supervisors with regard to the issue of official misconduct and the Sheriff’s tenability and continuing his service.

 

Commissioner Kay Gulbengay:    OK, I take continuing off the table.

 

Commissioner Andrea Shorter:  Can you say that again?

 

Commissioner Kay Gulbengay:    I’m removing my motion to continue the matter.  Because I do agree with Commissioner Shorter.  What we decide now, in all likelihood we will decide in a month whether we’re unanimous or not.

 

President Julie Soo:  I just have to say that I actually disagreed with the deliberations of the Ethics Commission.  I think in particular from Chairman Hut who said he didn’t consider looking into the future the ability to do the future job.  And I think that’s what impinges on the Commission’s work the most.  I think it’s important to know whether or not a person can execute his or her duties in the future.  Even if this were not a domestic violence case, we’re considering whether a conviction, misdemeanor conviction, rises to the level of official misconduct.  I disagree that it also has to fall during office hours, in uniform, or on government premises.  I look to the standards for state licensing, for attorneys, and Commissioner Gamez I think you will agree with me.  When someone is considered for admission to the State Bar they look at a person’s conduct before licensing.  They look at a person’s conduct throughout his or her licensing history.  I am an enforcement attorney for the California Department of Insurance.  We do remove and revoke licenses from people who have been convicted of domestic violence, of DUI, of other things.  And they can be misdemeanors.  I don’t necessarily look at misdemeanors as lesser things because oftentimes we know that felonies are pled down to misdemeanors, so it’s just a hair’s difference.  But it all goes to the standard of conduct; whether or not we want to call it moral turpitude.  A single act of DUI is not necessarily found to be moral turpitude, but more than one the courts have found to be moral turpitude.  And I disagree, I don’t know if you need to have a pattern of domestic violence because I had a co-worker…  This is why I do the work that I do.  Previous to my adult life, I did not know anything about domestic violence.  I had not known anything about dating violence.  It was only during my work life.  And sad to say in 2008 the day after President Obama was elected, my colleague, a fellow attorney, was shot and killed by her husband.  There was no prior history of domestic violence and yet she is dead.  Her husband then turned the gun onto himself and so in that instant 2 young children were left as orphans.  So I don’t, I think every factual circumstance is different but I personally think that if rank and file employees are held to a standard of conduct at the local, at the state level and the federal level, then the person in charge, the person who has the most public trust because he or she is elected, should be held to an even higher standard.

 

Commissioner Alicia Gamez:    I will.  You make many good points.  The Bar is the governing body for admission to the practice of law in California.  The voters of San Francisco is the governing body for the admission to an elected office in San Francisco.  The voters of San Francisco know how to do a recall.  And the voters of San Francisco are the ones who should be making that call.

 

President Julie Soo:  I want to say that there is a process.  The voters also voted for this particular ordinance.  It’s not necessarily one person, there is a multiple step process, so there are checks and balances.  The recall process is not available until 6 months and sadly this has dragged on for more than 6 months.  I don’t think a family should have to suffer and I sympathize with the family and I believe in services for family and trying to keep families intact where appropriate.  So I think it’s the public trust.  And why can rank and file employees be removed from employment . . .

 

Commissioner Alicia Gamez:  But rank and file employees cannot be removed from employment for this sort of thing.  They cannot be removed from employment for a misdemeanor, non-violent, no intent to harm . . .

 

President Julie Soo:  Commissioner, I disagree with you because if I were to walk down the street naked I don’t need to, I’m not going to do that, but if I were, I understand that I can be removed from my employment because I bring dishonor to my government agency.  So I’m just saying that every agency has a particular standard of conduct.  You don’t need to be convicted of a crime so it’s plain wrongful behavior

 

Commissioner Alicia Gamez:    OK and so what does that mean then for our democracy, if people can be removed for, if it’s a mere employment violation.  By whose standards?  That is the question that is now before, I think, us as a people.  There is a finding of official misconduct.  That official misconduct, by definition, is, and I won’t repeat it again.  It applies to elected officials in San Francisco.  Do you really want your elected official vulnerable for removal or these proceedings that we’ve been watching for many months, for a misdemeanor, non-violent, no intent to harm action?  Without moral turpitude.

 

President Julie Soo:  There is a conviction so I’m going to leave it at that.  I mean there’s also the impeachment process for high crimes and misdemeanors subject to the definition of high crimes and misdemeanors but I want to offer the floor to Commissioner Kirschner-Rodriguez.

 

Vice President Nancy Kirshner-Rodriguez:  Thank you.  So I think as, from my perspective as we’re looking at our role today, you know, I feel the need to say that we can not change the course of any of the actions that have occurred.  Whether we agree with any particular point in this process, all of these actions have happened.  And I’m not a lawyer so I’m not going to try to challenge the misdemeanor felony wobbler definitions of, you know, how someone pleads, what they plead, what would have happened if a trial had occurred.  For the citizens of San Francisco, unfortunately and fortunately our reality is that our sheriff was convicted and chose to agree, agreed to a sentence.  A sentence that domestic violence convictions, those convicted of domestic violence pursue and it is basically a requirement, so I am, I don’t feel like I am here today to re-debate any of this, but just to look at this is the point that we are at in our community, and we, the Commission on the Status of Women is inextricably connected to the issue of domestic violence, family violence, elder abuse, child abuse, also improving the status of women.  That’s what we’re here to focus on.  And if I remove myself from the particulars of this and I look at the bigger perspective and the statistics that 40% of California women in their lifetime experience some form of domestic violence.  I think the challenge is, lots of people have different definitions.  The law is what makes the definitions that we can abide by and so I have struggled on a daily basis to try to remove the personal, and I know there’s people that will say you can’t remove the personal, but I’m trying to remove the personal views and feelings and relationships because when you have someone that’s been elected and then they have taken a conviction and they’re overseeing the law enforcement, it’s just an incongruous situation for me to understand how we could take any action except to recognize the rulings of official misconduct and make a recommendation.

 

President Julie Soo:  Commissioner Shorter?

 

Commissioner Andrea Shorter:  Madam President I would like to move that we, just again I would like to thank the Oversight Panel for its great work and intent in terms of moving this recommendation to the Commission.  I would like for us to entertain, or actually to, hear again from Commissioner Golbengay.  She had given some language in terms of, that I think would suffice, so that we can move towards a vote on this matter.

 

President Julie Soo:  Emily, is this going to go as a statement or a letter?  It’s not an official resolution so it’s just a statement from the Commission?

 

Executive Director Emily Murase:  A statement, yes.

 

Commissioner Kay Gulbengay:  For clarification of the language, we would, Commission on the Status of Women would urge the Board of Supervisors to remove Ross Mirkarimi from his position as sheriff for official misconduct.  That is the language that we’d be using, Commissioner Shorter?

 

Beverly Upton:  The Oversight Panel accepts the amended statement.

 

Commissioner Andrea Shorter:  Great.  Panel supports the amendment. I move to approve the statement. 

 

President Julie Soo:  Do we have a second?

 

Commissioner Andrea Shorter:  I second that.

 

President Julie Soo:  Excuse me if you’d like to take your conversations outside you’re welcome to do that.  We’re trying to conduct a meeting here.

 

I think we need another person to second it because you made the motion.

 

Commissioner Andrea Shorter:  OK.

 

Commissioner Becca Prowda: I’ll second it.

 

President Julie Soo:  We have a second so we have a motion on the floor as stated by Commissioner Gulbengay.  All those in favor say Ay.

 

President Julie Soo, Vice President Nancy Kirshner-Rodriguez, Commissioner Becca Prowda, Commissioner Kay Gulbengay, and Commissioner Andrea Shorter:  Ay . . .

 

President Julie Soo:  All those opposed.

 

Commissioner Alicia Gamez and Commissioner Stephanie Simmons:  No.

 

President Julie Soo:  OK.  The motion carries.

 

Next order of business we have the 2012 Conflict of Interest Code Review.

 

Commissioner Alicia Gamez:  May I just ask a clarifing question?  So what we have just voted on is simply the last 2 sentences and none of the preceding ones?

 

President Julie Soo:  Just the last sentence, just what Commissioner Gulbengay stated.  Thank you.

 

So it’s 2012 Conflict of Interest Code Review.  Dr. Murase?

 

Executive Director Emily Murase:  Yes.  So annually the Commission is required to review the Conflict of Interest Code.  It’s the statement of incompatible activities.  And so we have had an issue come up because some of our Commissioners are self-employed and we have consulted the City  . . . .  Perhaps we should allow. . . .

 

President Julie Soo:  Emily why we don’t take a moment to let the room clear.  Why don’t we take a 2-minute recess?

 

Members of the Justice & Courage Oversight Panel reviewed key policy proposals on domestic violence as follows:   

 

         Key Policy Proposals on Domestic Violence                                                                                    

1.      Officer Involved Domestic Violence Policy         

2.      Workplace Policy on Domestic Violence

3.      City-wide Domestic Violence Policy

 

The meeting also focused on three domestic violence policy items: (1) officer involved domestic violence policy, (2) citywide workplace policy on domestic violence, and (3) citywide MOU on domestic violence. Panel Member Beverly Upton reported that a draft officer involved domestic violence policy is nearing completion and that a report will be available for review in the next few months. The Panel recommended meeting with the City Attorney, the Department of Human Resources, and the Mayor’s Office to review and finalize the draft citywide workplace policy on domestic violence written by former staff Laura Marshall. The Panel recommended proceeding with urging the adoption of a citywide domestic violence MOU amongst first responders.

 

Action: To adopt a position on the status of the Sheriff.

 

C.              2012 Conflict of Interest Code Review       

Commissioners reviewed the proposed amendments to the Commission’s Conflict of Interest Code.  Dr. Murase explained that the amendment is for disclosure purposes for any Commissioner who is an independent contractor and what the threshold amount would be.  The amendment would reflect that if a Commissioner identifies a client that receives any funding from the Department would need to be disclosed.

 

Action: To approve amended language for Conflict of Interest Code.

m/s/c (Gulbengay/Kirshner-Rodriguez/Unanimous)

No public comment.

 

VI.    PUBLIC COMMENT                                                                      

Lenora Lee, choreographer, has been working on a project to reflect the experiences of Asian American trafficked women. She announced that the project will be previewed in October12-14 at the Dan Mission Theater. 

          

VII.   ADJOURNMENT                                                                

Meeting adjourned in memory of Milton Marks III, Judge Ollie Marie-Victoire, Helen Gurley Brown, and Phyllis Diller.  Meeting was adjourned at 6:35 pm.

m/s/c (Soo/Gulbengay/Unanimous)

No public comment.

 

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Government’s duty is to serve the public, reaching its decision in full view of the public. Commissions, boards, councils and other agencies of the City and County exist to conduct the people’s business.  This ordinance assures that deliberations are conducted before the people and that City operations are open to the people’s review.  For more information on your rights under the Sunshine Ordinance, or to report a violation of the Ordinance, contact the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force at 415-554-7724.  To obtain a free copy of the Sunshine Ordinance contact the  Sunshine Ordinance Task Force, City Hall, Room 244, 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place, San Francisco, CA 94102-4689, phone: 415-554-7724, fax: 415-554-7854.  Copies of the Sunshine Ordinance can also be obtained from the San Francisco Public Library and on the City’s website at www.sfgov.org. If any materials related to an item on this agenda have been distributed to the Commission after distribution of the agenda packet, those materials are available for public inspection at 25 Van Ness, Suite 130, San Francisco,  CA  94102 during normal office hours.

 

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Individuals and entities that influence or attempt to influence local legislative or administrative action may be required by the San Francisco Lobbyist Ordinance [SF Campaign & Governmental Conduct Code § 2.100] to register and report lobbying activity.  For more information about the Lobbyist Ordinance, please contact the San Francisco Ethics Commission at 25 Van Ness Avenue, Suite 220, San Francisco, CA  94102; telephone 415-252-3100; fax 415-252-3112; website: sfgov.org/ethics.

 

 

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