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SF Mayor Lee questions whether sheriff can do job while fighting violence charges

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POSTED January 23, 2012 1:28 a.m.

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee has questioned whether the city’s new sheriff can effectively do his job while battling domestic violence charges.

Lee said Friday that he intends to speak with Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi soon about the possibility of stepping aside while the charges are heard in court, but he also wants Mirkarimi to consider that option himself.

“The sheriff has got to serve the people of San Francisco. I think the question for him now is whether he can do that with this distraction that’s going on, (these) very serious charges,” Lee said.

Lee has the authority to suspend an elected officeholder for official misconduct and start removal proceedings.

He made the comments after a media event to hoist a San Francisco 49ers flag from the mayoral balcony at City Hall, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Meanwhile, Mirkarimi is due back for a court hearing Monday at which a trial date could be set. He has pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor counts of domestic violence battery, dissuading a witness and child endangerment in connection with an alleged New Year’s Eve argument with his wife, Eliana Lopez, 36, a former Venezuelan telenovela star.

Mirkarimi is alleged to have grabbed Lopez’s right bicep during the dispute, leaving a bruise. Lopez has denied the abuse allegation, but a judge this week still ordered Mirkarimi to stay away from her and their 2-year-old son.

Mirkarimi has refused to step down from the job and is going about his duties as the newly sworn-in sheriff. He has chosen staff and made night visits to the jail to check procedures, according to former Mayor Art Agnos, a friend of Mirkarimi’s with whom Mirkarimi is staying.

Agnos told the Chronicle that Mirkarimi has so far shown he can handle the job while fighting the charges.

“I think he’s doing the job,” Agnos said. “Have there been any escapes? Has there been anybody getting hurt? Have there been any riots, any abuses? Nothing.”

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