Debra J. Saunders

Lee told the San Francisco Chronicle editorial board Thursday that he wishes the Ethics Commission hearings hadn't taken so long. Mirkarimi's lawyers aren't exactly slouches at delaying tactics. But these hearings never would have taken as long as they did had the mayor not thrown in loose charges. The mayor's amended complaint charged that Mirkarimi had told Lopez that he is "powerful," for example, and that Mirkarimi tried to dissuade neighbors from testifying.

Investigators were sent out to investigate these stories. In overcharging Mirkarimi, Lee dumped on the commission the unhappy job of wading through depositions of neighbors, a campaign consultant and even an old Mirkarimi girlfriend. These side charges gave way to an orgy of hearsay and character assassination.

I've heard Mirkarimi critics repeat some of the side charges against Mirkarimi as fact. They should know that after months of investigation, the commissioners found Mirkarimi's official misconduct to consist of bruising his wife's arm, a violation of her personal liberty, and pleading guilty to a criminal charge. The other charges did not stick.

Commission Chairman Benjamin T. Hur dissented. He said that he found Mirkarimi's behavior to be "egregious," but there was no link between his actions and his "official" duties. Indeed, Mirkarimi hadn't even been sworn in as sheriff on New Year's Eve.

At City Hall, there should be a plaque that reads, "The more personal and less official a matter is the more City Hall wants to do something about it."

Debra J. Saunders

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