In the past, the San Francisco ethics commission has been accused of acting slowly, diluting penalties, and siding with the very people they are meant to police. But between being perpetually understaffed and overworked, they’ll have their work cut out for them with Mirkarimi.

Currently 16 people work for the commission, and they serve as the professional support to the volunteer commissioners. The five commissioners are appointed by the mayor and other city officials and once per month to hear cases. Of the five members, four are lawyers.

The commission was first started in 1993 by a ballot initiative. The hope was that the independent body would control and eliminate pay-to-play politics and other forms of corruption. However, the commission has swung and missed at high profile cases in the past. Supervisor Tony Hall faced up to $240,000 in fines for campaign finance violations. They levied a $6,000 penalty. In another case, the commission fined a person $26,700. However, the fine was settled for $267.

From the San Francisco Chronicle:

The San Francisco Ethics Commission will soon face its biggest test: recommending whether suspended Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi should be permanently removed from office for official misconduct.

Former ethics commissioners say the panel is more than capable of rendering a fair decision, but critics say that if its past work is any indication, observers shouldn’t expect a very inspiring performance.

Read the full article here.