By Frank Gormlie
For the last twenty-four hour news cycle, San Diegans have watched stunned as three Democrats have stepped forward and publicly called for Mayor Bob Filner to resign. Donna Frye, Cory Briggs and Marco Gonzalez all sent letters to Filner – and the media – in the last couple of days calling on the Mayor – who has been in office all of seven months – to step down.
Briggs and Gonzalez are both attorneys involved in litigation against the City of San Diego. Donna Frye, of course, is the former City Councilmember and the ‘woman who should have been mayor’. Frye actually won a three-way race a few years ago for mayor in her write-in campaign, but was not sworn in due to the ballots being questionable.
Frye and Gonzalez alleged sexual harassment charges in their letters – although no details were given – whereas Briggs cited other issues, mainly around the latest Sunroad controversy.
The three are holding a press conference, today, Thursday, at 10 a.m. to outline more details it is assumed. The San Diego Free Press will have a reporter present who, hopefully, will be writing up a report later this morning.
In the meantime, thoughtful Democrats and progressives have had their worst nightmare materialize. Their darling – the most liberal mayor of San Diego in history – is on the ropes. Will he resign? Can he weather this crisis?
At this point – we urge Mayor Filner NOT TO RESIGN.
We want to see substance in the charges; we want details, if not names, then descriptions of the incidents – if the first Democratic Party mayor elected to the City’s highest office in 20 years is going to resign.
We do believe that Mayor Bob has to step forward himself and tell us why he shouldn’t resign.
We also have many questions – not just for the mayor – but for his accusers.
Cory Briggs has filed a number of lawsuits against the City of recent day, around the Convention Center, around the tourist tax, and most recently, he sued in efforts to have his group, Free PB (Pacific Beach) be allowed to hold an event that was similar in nature to the infamous Over-the-Line tournament held on Fiesta Island annually. He lost, and Mayor Filner came out publicly in support of OTL. Briggs does tout himself as an open-government kind of guy – but his latest suit seemed very trivial in light of the other serious problems facing the region.
Briggs is not a top Democratic Party activist and has never held office – and quiet frankly, does not speak for us. Who selected him as our advocate?
Likewise with Gonzalez, he has made a name for himself lately going after the one-time fireworks shows that communities hold on July 4th. He sued La Jolla, downtown, and has declared that other fireworks – such as the one in Ocean Beach held a week ago, are “illegal”. Gonzalez touts himself as an environmentalist, and wields his lawsuits as weapons – and making money as he goes.
Yet, Gonzalez ignores the fireworks displays of SeaWorld while going after the “little guys”. SeaWorld shoots off fireworks nightly during the summer months and weekly during the rest of the year. These explosions do much more harm to the environment, the marine life, and the neighboring communities than the once-a-year displays – but because SeaWorld has been granted a permit – Gonzalez is okay with the marine park’s fireworks.
But Gonzalez too, is involved in litigation with the City – and now says he represents some of the women who are allegging harassment by Filner. Again, who elected Gonzalez as chief government watcher? Not us. He certainly does not represent us.
Donna Frye, on the other hand, has progressive cred; while on the city council, she was a strong advocate for open government and transparency – even to the point of boycotting certain council meetings because the meetings violated her sense of governance.
So Frye’s allegations are much more serious and as she is the nominal head of the party – hers is the most damaging charges. Yet even her charges are so vague that for her to demand that Filner resign without providing more details is very premature. Hopefully, she will clear these up at today’s presser.
We have some questions for the trio (Frye, Gonzalez, Briggs): Did you all – especially you, Donna – try any kind of intervention with Filner? Did you sit down with him and other independent progressives and liberals and have a ‘come-to-Jesus moment’ with him? If not, why are you going public? Also, why haven’t you included other progressives in your plans?
The liberal and progressive movement in San Diego struggled long and hard through the lengthy primary and then general election season to get our man elected. It was a long battle – and now the Accusing Three want it all just to evaporate.
What is your gameplan? Your endgame? Have you thought this all through thoroughly? If Filner resigns, there will be a Special Election held in 90 days – 3 months. Have you three decided that Donna will run again. If so, that is such a terribly risky endeavor – to chase out the current Democratic mayor only to stage a campaign for another one in a few months.
The U-T started off today, predictably, with inch high headlines “Backers Call on Filner to Resign.” Logan Jenkins, the loyal Manchester columnist puppydog, ran his front page column, “Filner needs to remind us why he should be mayor”, suggesting that Filner get a dog, as he doesn’t have any human friends. Plus, the U-T is giving Briggs and Gonzalez a lot of play time – normally they wouldn’t get the time of day from the daily fishwrap.
Carl DeMaio and Kevin Faulconer and Papa Manchester are running around in glee. They cannot believe this moment has been handed to them. DeMaio already is plotting his comeback. Faulconer is sharpening his knives.
What do Frye and Gonzalez and Briggs know? Perhaps, they have caught wind that the Feds are about to indict Filner, and they want to guarantee that the mayor’s seat remains in the Democratic fold. So, are they positioning themselves – especially Frye – for the Special Election – knowing that Filner will be forced out?
Do they also know who votes in these Special Elections? Angry white men vote – and they won’t be voting for Democrats.
Also, pretty-boy Nathan Fletcher is standing in the wings, waiting for the call to run as a Democrat. Todd Gloria, the Democratic president of the city council, is maybe thinking about changing his mind and running for mayor – and not take on Susan Davis’ Congressional seat, as she is resigning next year.
Right now, we need more details, and they had better be substantial, substantial enough for this mayor to resign. Also, right now, we need Mayor Bob to come up to the microphone, make his apologies, pledge his changes, promise to correct his behavior, and stand by open government.
If Filner is being charged with such serious allegations, then let’s hear his defense. He’s at least entitled to an arraignment, a preliminary hearing and perhaps trial and a conviction by his constituents before he is punished.
We also are wondering – what is going on with Filner’s staff? Why has it been so slim? Where is Vince Hall – his chief? Why has Filner not gathered around him a type of ‘kitchen cabinet’ to advise him on the roads and pitfalls of City Hall?
Meanwhile, the bright side of the City’s new sunshine has been clouded over – mirroring the weather for today. Gray, cloudy, and gloomy.