Last gasp ends the sordid Mirkarimi saga

The arm-grab that Madison reported to police set off a feeding frenzy that engulfed Mirkarimi.
Luke Thomas/Fog City Journal

A San Francisco judge has dismissed a defamation lawsuit against Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi and his wife, Eliana Lopez, which is likely to be the last step in an ugly and protracted political, legal, and administrative battle stemming from Mirkarimi grabbing Lopez's arm during an argument on Dec. 31, 2011.

The couple's neighbors, attorney Abraham Mertens and his wife, Ivory Madison, reported the grabbing incident to police over the objections of Lopez, who had sought advice from Madison and allowed her to film a short but emotional video displaying a bruise on her arm, which became the main evidence against Mirkarimi.

That exploded into a high-profile drama in which Mirkarimi was vilified by the media, charged with domestic violence and witness dissuasion, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor false imprisonment, suspended without pay for six months by Mayor Ed Lee, and finally reinstated to office by the Board of Supervisors in October.

Along the way, the two couples – who are still neighbors, despite Mirkarimi's efforts to sell his house and move – became increasingly bitter public rivals. Lopez consistently denied being abused and implied to reporters that Mertens and Madison had political motives for breaking her confidence and reporting the incident to police. Mertens and Madison maintained that Mirkarimi tried to dissuade their cooperation with police – an allegation that the long investigation failed to substantiate – and blasted Mirkarimi and Lopez in a San Francisco Chronicle op-ed.

Other than that, Madison and Mertens refused to talk to the press as the saga unfolded – a stance they maintained today, with a man who answered the phone at the Red Room website business they run immediately telling us, “They're not interested in talking.”

But Madison, who went to law school before becoming a fantasy writer, did let loose in June when she submitted a wild, incredible 22-page declaration to the Ethics Commission as part of the city's effort to permanently remove Mirkarimi on official misconduct charges, purporting to describe the tyrannical way the Mirkarimi ran the household, as Madison claimed she was told by Lopez (which she disputes).

The commission criticized and gutted the declaration, finding that it was prejudicial and contained little usable evidence. Commissioner Paul Renne even dressed down the deputy city attorneys for submitting it, calling it “clearly hearsay, clearly having the intention of poisoning the well of this hearing,” causing Deputy City Attorney Peter Keith to apologize and explain they had little to do with the declaration because Madison had hired a private attorney who helped her prepare it.

The couple and their attorney have threatened to sue Mirkarimi and Lopez for more than a year, and they finally filed the defamation case in January, and it has now been quickly dismissed. Domestic violence advocates and allies of Mayor Lee also threatened a recall election against Mirkarimi, but that also seemed to wither late last year – meaning this is probably the last we'll hear about this case, at least until Mirkarimi runs for reelection in two years, if he decides to do so.

Asked to comment on the lawsuit's dismissal, Mirkarimi told the Guardian, “My family and I are very happy and have moved forward, and I hope they are too.” His attorney, David Waggoner, told us, “Hopefully, the dismissal represents the end of what has been a long and painful experience for everyone involved.”


Have you not noticed how quiet and low profile Ross has been lately? Supposedly he was going to introduce all these radical policies but, in practice, he has been too scared to rock the boat.

The opinion polls show him losing the next election and he is now too toxic to be considered for any further office. So even though you might argue that Lee "lost" the battle to remove ross from office, the reality is that Ross self-destructed due to his own arrogance and stupidity.

You need a new hero.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 18, 2013 @ 5:40 pm

I hope Ed Lee learned something from this but I doubt it. Tenants are going to tear his head off over the condo convert legislation.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 18, 2013 @ 10:51 pm

So your comments makes no sense.

Lee's approval rating remains high.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 19, 2013 @ 5:49 am

Ed Lee's plan is to make San Francisco be like Cyprus?

Like Cyprus, Britain should beware of becoming a playground for Russia's rich

"An island state advertises itself as the destination of choice for the super-rich – mainly from Russia – to launder their money and reputations, while enjoying the high life and low taxes. Then it discovers all is not what it seems...."

Posted by Guest on Mar. 24, 2013 @ 12:44 pm

This is sounding awfully familiar now??

"...An industry has been created to cater for the oligarchs' every need. Former ministers represent them in the Lords; former spin doctors do their PR; lawyers queue up to represent them, using Britain's hideously indulgent defamation laws to slap suits at the first sign of trouble.

Financial advisers make sure the oligarchs pay as little as possible on their earnings, savings, and even their council tax. Private boarding schools welcome their children, and their chequebooks.

A parallel economy of designer shops, private jets, speedboats and security guards exists for them, and for the new rich of China, Brazil, the Middle East and elsewhere. The top end of the skewed housing market in London and the south-east exists only for them."

Posted by Guest on Mar. 24, 2013 @ 12:48 pm

Hardly a newsworthy revelation, surely?

Posted by Guest on Mar. 24, 2013 @ 1:05 pm

I guess not.

Unique £1.6m porcelain Bugatti Veyron turns heads during first ever appearance in Britain

"The spectacular 253mph, 1,000bhp 'White Gold' car, was spotted outside the five-star Dorchester Hotel in London's swanky Mayfair."

Posted by Guest on Mar. 24, 2013 @ 6:15 pm

If I sold everything, I could just about afford one, but then I wouldn't be able to eat.

Or insure it either, presumably.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 25, 2013 @ 12:36 pm

Were you able to get your money out?

" The two banks at the centre of the crisis - Cyprus Popular Bank, also known as Laiki, and Bank of Cyprus - have units in London which remained open throughout the week and placed no limits on withdrawals."

Posted by Guest on Mar. 25, 2013 @ 6:56 pm

anyone familiar with international press.

The real reason for Cyprus's problems is an over-centralized government which does not allow Cyprus to devalue to compensate for their economic weakness. Same probelm with Spain, Greece etc.

80% of the population of Cyprus work in banking and finance - hardly applicable to SF.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 24, 2013 @ 1:03 pm

Actually, there's another problem....

"...a bailout of Cyprus' banks would be a bailout for Russian oligarchs and mafiosi..."

Posted by Guest on Mar. 24, 2013 @ 6:23 pm

No the real reason for Cyprus's problems is a casino economy.

"French Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici rejected charges that the EU had brought Cypriots to their knees, saying it was the island's offshore business model that had failed.

"To all those who say that we are strangling an entire people ... Cyprus is a casino economy that was on the brink of bankruptcy," he told Canal Plus television."

Posted by Guest on Mar. 24, 2013 @ 11:07 pm

"...the best predictor of crisis is large inflows of foreign money."

Posted by Guest on Mar. 25, 2013 @ 12:19 pm

Most tenants want to become home owners some day. More condos and TICs increase the supply of ownership units. The number of hardcore tenant activists is very small and only getting smaller.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 19, 2013 @ 9:36 am

...including Ross Mirkarimi, one might add.

Posted by Hortencia on Mar. 19, 2013 @ 9:44 am
Posted by Guest on Mar. 19, 2013 @ 10:00 am

"The number of hardcore tenant activists is very small and only getting smaller."

The number of renters evicted by TIC are too numerous to keep track of.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 19, 2013 @ 12:03 pm

This is a primary reason why people work toward owning the home they live in. SF has some of the strongest rent protections in the country, but it still comes down to renting someone else's property.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 19, 2013 @ 12:20 pm

no tenant can count on staying more than a few years in their home.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 19, 2013 @ 12:52 pm

"...but it still comes down to renting someone else's property."

Most people can't afford to buy in SF which is why 2/3 of the city are renters.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 19, 2013 @ 1:32 pm

Why live in a place where you are doomed to second class status forever?

Posted by Guest on Mar. 19, 2013 @ 1:43 pm

"Why live in a place where you are doomed to second class status forever?"

Exactly what I tell the TIC victims screaming at Land Use to be bailed out of their bad real estate investments.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 19, 2013 @ 2:52 pm
Posted by anon on Mar. 19, 2013 @ 6:38 pm

My balloon payment doesn't come either.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 19, 2013 @ 8:19 pm

Inviting 2/3 of the city to leave if they don't want to participate in TIC real estate scams is exactly what this condo conversion legislation is all about, and exactly why I say tenants will tear Ed Lee's head off.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 19, 2013 @ 3:05 pm

Many homeowners think of their overpriced SF house or condo as a piggybank they can cash out when ready to retire or something they can tap when they need some quick cash from their equity. Homeowners will understand that the massive condo conversion legislation proposed by Supervisors Wiener and Farrell, and Mayor Lee, will create thousands of new condos that will drive down the value of a homeowner's condo or their smaller home, so I doubt the legislation will be supported by many homeowners either.

When the BOS finally votes on the Farrell and Wiener legislation - assuming it ever gets out of committee - I suspect it loses 7-4 or 6-5. If the BOS passes it, then tenants will collect signatures to have it put on a ballot to defeat it. If the legislation loses at the BOS, but Mayor Lee or 6(4?) supervisors put the massive condo conversion on the November ballot, that means 8 Washington will get a lot more "no" votes from tenants motivated to vote in November's election, many of whom will follow the advice of the Milk Club, SFBG and SFTU to vote no on both the condo conversion ordinance and 8 Washington. Hopefully other progressive legislation will find its way onto the November ballot since there is bound to be a very active campaign to get as many tenants registered to vote as possible.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 19, 2013 @ 4:07 pm

Those TIC buyers are all former tenants, you know?

And although a fair number of untis will go condo as a result of this, they would never have become rentals again anyway, and would always have become condo's.

It's a non issue.

Posted by anon on Mar. 19, 2013 @ 6:40 pm

Most current tenants realize that if this massive condo conversion goes through, then the day after the election TIC buyers from across the world will be scrambling to purchase as many rent-controlled buildings as possible, evict the current tenants, and convert even more units to TICs. If the city allows a massive conversion now, of course the city will allow thousands more rent-controlled apartments to convert to condos in the future.

You've made the same point at least 100 times here without once recognizing that any large condo conversion will beget even more rent-controlled unit condo conversions, with more tenant evictions in the process. You're speaking to the wrong crowd if you think you can keep repeating a lie long enough that we'll eventually believe it.

When you wonder why this conversion legislation loses either at the BOS or on a subsequent ballot, and Wiener, Farrell, and Mayor Lee are viewed as politicians who tenants can't trust since they are trying to encourage even more TIC evictions and condo conversions, you can thank yourselves for making it so obvious what is really going on with this legislation: Supervisors Farrell, Wiener, and Mayor Lee want to eventually abolish as many rent-controlled apartments as possible and evict the current tenants who reside in them. Your dishonesty about what the legislation is really all about speaks volumes to your duplicity. Either that, or you're terrible in chess, a game that is always played a few moves ahead of the current action.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 19, 2013 @ 7:49 pm

or just a butter knife.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 19, 2013 @ 8:13 pm

He sounds like he may be a Wei qi player actually.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 19, 2013 @ 10:56 pm

Attitudes are changing. TIC conversions are being driven by demand. Many of the newest SF tenants eventually want to own a home and will not vote as a single anti-conversion block.

In any case, we'll see soon enough.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 20, 2013 @ 2:09 am

There is a flood of real estate money coming from china because they tightened capital gains on home sales, where the demand comes from.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 20, 2013 @ 5:23 am

Generally the Chinese do not like old homes, and are very picky about the fung shui of any property they buy. TIC's really don't have any fung shui.

No, sorry, but that's just scaremongering. This proposal makes it very clear that it is a one-off, and therefore will not affect any future conversions. Moreover, Ellis'ed buildings, which are the most common method of creating TIC's, cannot be condo'ed ever, so that is a red herring.

Of course the BofS might allow another bypass in the future. But then they might do all kinds of things, including repealing rent control or making it more strict. There is no point in speculating about that.

Posted by anon on Mar. 20, 2013 @ 6:11 am

"While Still Cautious, Investment Rule Changes In Asia Encourage Capital Outflows as Overseas Buyers Acquire Choice U.S. Assets..."

"...The U.S. is seeing an increase in cross-border investment activity from throughout the Asia-Pacific, said Marisha Clinton, director of capital markets research for Jones Lang LaSalle. And like other investors, the supply of available core coastal and gateway properties is dwindling.

"In the office sector, there’s been a lot of activity coming out of South Korea and Singapore into the U.S., which is still number one -- we're the largest and most liquid and transparent real estate market," Clinton said. "They’re targeting primarily the trophy properties, but as those opportunities become more limited, we’ll some see a shift by these investors into the secondary markets."

That shift appears to already be under way. U.S.-based Invesco Real Estate recently competed for and won the $412 million deal to buy the 1.4 million-square-foot Williams Tower in Houston, not historically considered a gateway market by Asian funds. But the sale offering of Williams Tower by Hines attracted a lot of overseas investor interest, Clinton noted. "

Posted by Guest on Mar. 20, 2013 @ 11:30 am

China Vanke Markets Debut Dollar Bond Sale Amid Government Curbs

"China Vanke Co. (200002) is marketing its debut sale of U.S. dollar-denominated bonds after Fitch Ratings Ltd. said the country’s largest property developer by market value is better placed than its peers to cope with government measures to cool house prices."

Posted by Guest on Mar. 20, 2013 @ 11:36 am

"Chinese developers are starting to venture overseas, chasing wealthy locals who are buying apartments as the government restrains the market at home."


Posted by Guest on Mar. 20, 2013 @ 11:40 am

not provided an iota of evidence that they are buying up SF TIC's nor (the implication) that they are displaceing tenants.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 20, 2013 @ 12:35 pm
Posted by Guest on Mar. 20, 2013 @ 12:09 pm
Posted by Guest on Mar. 20, 2013 @ 12:41 pm

Real estate speculation in the US has given us tens of thousands of failed banks over the past 100 years, the US depression of the 1930's, the S&L crisis of the 1980's, and the most recent property meltdown in 2007 that threatened (and still threatens) the entire world financial system. After every real estate meltdown the US public debt increases dramatically after the bail out of the financial institutions depositors and bondholders.

During the same time, households are paying more for rent than ever, ownership housing affordability is at an all-time low, and real estate speculators continue to make small fortunes until the market crashes - yet again - leaving millions of households in foreclosure with ruined credit and the US dollar losing over 20% of its value compared to other country currencies, making it even cheaper for foreigners to buy up US housing.

This isn't an issue about xenophobia. It's about the most basic human need besides water and food - decent housing that is affordable to everyone. Not surprisingly, US and state laws subsidize speculators and landlords, leaving the local residents and taxpayers far worse off.

Rather than fight dozens of overseas wars to make the world safer for multi-national corporations and their (mostly) millionaire owners, it would be nice if the government would turn its attention to the war happening on US soil where investors and property speculators are waging war against the bottom 2/3 of the American public that keeps falling further behind economically with little hope for a better financial future, all because the laws favor property investors and hurt average American families.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Posted by guest on Mar. 20, 2013 @ 12:53 pm

Broken record.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 20, 2013 @ 1:02 pm

"I had a cab driver in Guangzhou a few days ago - very typical case - the guy's from hefei which is way inland, far away, his wife and two sons are there on the farm, he's been away from the 15 years so that he can earn money and send it back to them, sends them like 90% of his salary every month.

He owns 4 apartments back at home because these are investments for his sons, right?

I was listening to him talking thinking to myself, you don't realize it yet, but you've lost your life savings."

"Doomsday" scenario for China

Posted by Guest on Mar. 20, 2013 @ 12:35 pm

the very best investment of all. Something about 1.5 billion people and they all have to live somewhere.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 20, 2013 @ 12:54 pm

"My own view is that residential property development in China has really come to an end." (60 minutes, March 3, 2013)

Zhang Xin - CEO of SOHO China, the largest commercial real estate developer in Beijing

"China Vanke, the country’s largest home builder by sales, announced that it is targeting the US for its first overseas project (201 Folsom St, San Francisco)....

...Vanke’s interest in developing projects in the US is reportedly driven by the interest of its Chinese customers in American real estate investment opportunities.

...plans were leaked regarding Beijing developer Vantone’s discussions with authorities in San Francisco to re-develop the city’s Pier 19 as a tourist destination with Chinese characteristics."

China Developers Vanke and Vantone Target US Real Estate Market

Posted by Guest on Mar. 20, 2013 @ 1:43 pm
Posted by Guest on Mar. 20, 2013 @ 1:53 pm

this troll gibberish about China's real estate bubble?

The trolls can't stand this story and that's why they are acting-up here so badly.

Why not take this as a good moment to snuff a few of them out.

Posted by lillipublicans on Mar. 20, 2013 @ 2:09 pm

It is funny how the comment thread completely morphed off topic. I suspect it's because we're all very tired about Ross and his dramas. There will be an election in 2 1/2 years and we'll see then what the voters think. Until then, many of us will be much happier if we never have to read another story about him and his family dramas.

Unaffordable real estate, invasion by foreign property speculators, the growing divide between rich and poor, and politician's alignment with the wealthy over the lower and middle income groups are the main stories that affect our lives, which get reflected in many of the comment threads regardless of the nominal article heading the page. Thank goodness the SFBG gives us the space to vent.

Posted by guest on Mar. 20, 2013 @ 2:37 pm

You trolls have milked the Mirkarimi story for all its worth. Now that you've utterly failed to destroy Ross and his family, you're "bored" with the story. Well, 2 1/2 years is a long time -- long enough for memories to fade -- and Ross could very well win re-election as sheriff. By that time, there will probably be another other scandal consuming the voters' interest...most likely, by the name of Ed Lee.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 21, 2013 @ 12:11 pm

"If the bubble bursts, who's left holding the bag?"

"There are multiple classes of people who are going to get wiped out by this. People who have invested three generations worth of savings, grand parents, parents and children, into properties will see their savings evaporate."

- 6min 52 seconds into video

Posted by Guest on Mar. 20, 2013 @ 12:22 pm

People do not tend to give up living in houses the way they might give up on smoking.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 20, 2013 @ 12:42 pm