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PD Editorial: Officeholders behaving badly

Even if he manages to hang on to his office, Ross Mirkarimi's political career is almost certainly over.

Mirkarimi, the newly elected San Francisco sheriff, forfeited his reputation, credibility and political viability with a domestic violence conviction involving his wife. The tawdry details are well known: A New Year's Eve argument ended with Mirkarimi bruising his wife's arm in front of their toddler son.

A plea bargain spared Mirkarimi a trial that threatened to uncover more embarrassing stories about a politician already famous for his volcanic temper. Last Monday, he was sentenced to three years probation and ordered to attend counseling sessions and parenting classes.

Given his conduct, including his initial dismissal of the incident as a private matter and his intimations of conspiracies against him, Mirkarimi ought to resign. No county needs a sheriff who committed a crime on the eve of taking office.

For now, Mirkarimi is fighting efforts to remove him from office, and a final decision rests with the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.

This case has dominated the headlines, but Mirkarimi isn't the only elected official in California whose recent behavior has raised doubts about fitness to serve.

; Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi was arrested in October after walking out of a San Francisco store without paying for $2,500 worth of clothing. Hayashi, D-Castro Valley, initially said she was distracted by a phone call and later pleaded no contest to shoplifting, saying a benign brain tumor affected her judgment.

; Assemblyman Martin Garrick, R-Solana Beach, was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving in June after running a stop sign and failing to stop for two CHP officers on bicycles outside the state Capitol. Garrick was spared a night in the drunk tank, but his license was suspended for four months when pleaded no contest.

; Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, R-Twin Peaks, was arrested in January when security screeners at Ontario International Airport found a loaded handgun and spare ammunition in his luggage. Donnelly, who didn't have a concealed weapons permit, said he left the gun in his bag inadvertently. He is trying to work out a plea bargain with San Bernardino County prosecutors.

; Del Norte County District Attorney Jon Alexander is on State Bar probation after stipulating to instances of legal misconduct. His law license has been suspended previously, and the Sacramento Bee reported that Alexander is presently the subject of another State Bar investigation as well as an FBI inquiry into bribery allegations.


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