NOT Quitting: Filner Apologizes, Says He’ll Seek Help

If my behavior doesn’t change, I cannot succeed in leading our city.

filnerdvdBy Doug Porter

After several days of drama following calls for his resignation from three prominent San Diegans, Mayor Bob Filner has responded via a DVD released to the local NBC affiliate. Here’s the text of his statement:

I begin today by apologizing to you. I have diminished the office to which you elected me.

The charges made at today’s news conference are serious. When a friend like Donna Frye is compelled to call for my resignation, I’m clearly doing something wrong. I have reached into my heart and soul and realized I must and will change my behavior.

As someone who has spent a lifetime fighting for equality for all people, I am embarrassed to admit that I have failed to fully respect the women who work for me and with me, and that at times I have intimidated them.

It’s a good thing that behavior that would have been tolerated in the past is being called out in this generation for what it is: inappropriate and wrong.

I am also humbled to admit that I need help. I have begun to work with professionals to make changes in my behavior and approach. In addition, my staff and I will participate in sexual harassment training provided by the city. Please know that I fully understand that only I am the one that can make these changes.

If my behavior doesn’t change, I cannot succeed in leading our city.

In the next few days, I will be reaching out to those who now work in the Mayor’s Office or have previously worked for me – both men and women – to personally apologize for my behavior.

I will also be announcing fundamental changes within the Mayor’s Office designed to promote a new spirit of cooperation, respect and effectiveness.

You have every right to be disappointed in me. I only ask that you give me an opportunity to prove I am capable of change, so that the vision I have for our city’s future can be realized.

The latest development prior to Filner’s statement was an interview published in Voice of San Diego wherein Liam Dillon. She said she’d warned Democratic Party leader Jess Durfee about six women who’d told her about Filner physically or verbally harassing them.

From Voice of San Diego:

“As disgraceful as Bob’s behavior has been, it’s been tolerated by our Democratic Party leadership,” she said.

Saldaña said Filner never personally harassed her and declined to say who alleged to have had run-ins with the mayor. She said former City Councilwoman Donna Frye, who is calling for Filner’s resignation over unspecified sexual harassment allegations, inspired her to talk.

Meanwhile, Marco Gonzalez says that he, Donna Frye and Cory Briggs will respond to Filner’s apology on Friday after consulting with clients and others. They held a 20 minute press conference on Thursday morning basically demanding the Mayor’s resignation, with the implication being that if Filner didn’t resign, details of his mis-deeds would be forthcoming.

My Analysis

I have no crystal ball. The actions (or lack thereof) by his publicly known accusers will decide how far the media feeding frenzy goes. One local TV station is even promising grainy black and white video shot by “private investigators” showing Filner “with women”.

My bet is that Mayor Filner’s statement came after a lot of negotiation with leaders on the Democratic side of the equation. Lori Saldaña is hardly the only woman in this city that supported Bob Filner through clenched teeth in the name of party unity despite hearing accounts of his behavior.

And if you say okay, “Bob Filner, go away”, what does that accomplish for the actual people of San Diego who aren’t walking around with a Carl DeMaio sized chip on their shoulders? What is the end game here?

I’ve received dozens of emails (thank you all) asking my opinion and asking for advice on this situation. I hate to sound like every athlete who’s ever been interviewed on ESPN, but “It is what it is”.

snidelyI do have some points I’d like to make to progressives:

1) Don’t eat your own, progressives. Just because we don’t like what Donna Frye,, are saying, there’s no excuse to attack them.

2) Don’t let the media goad you into participating in “slut shaming”. Don’t feed the social media frenzy that will no doubt erupt when and if any of Filner’s accusers are identified. Just ignore it.

3) No doubt the mighty righties downtown that have been whispering about a recall since the election results were counted will go public in the next couple of days. Whatever you think about Bob Filner and his actions, don’t give aid and comfort to the likes of Carl DeMeano and Snidely Whiplash (Tony Krvarik). If it comes to a recall, go vote your conscience.

4) End game, end game, end game. What’s best for San Diego? Know any city that’s benefited from public floggings? Let us not forget that Mayor Filner is one (very deeply flawed) human being. Ideas and values about governance also count. And if we’re going to replace him, let’s make sure we get a winner for San Diego.

In closing I’d like to remind everybody just how effective the last recall in California was… oh, Arnold, can you take a bow now?



Doug Porter

Doug Porter was active in the early days of the alternative press in San Diego, contributing to the OB Liberator, the print version of the OB Rag, the San Diego Door, and the San Diego Street Journal. He went on to have a 35 year career in the Hospitality business and decided to go back into raising hell when he retired. He's won awards for 'Daily Reporting and Writing: Opinion/Editorial' from the Society of Professional Journalists in 2013, 2014 and 2015. Doug is a cancer survivor (sans vocal chords) and lives in North Park.
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  1. avatarLaura E. says

    This is a brilliant move on Filner’s part. He apologizes, but now if the U-T attacks him, they’ll look even more classless than they already are. Though I’m sure a gloating front page editorial is already being written.

  2. avatarmicaela porte says

    what a dummy…power corrupts… when are we gonna learn…?
    maybe we should have a election age limit for old folks who are losing it…
    and, please, all you stone throwers,… look into your own hearts and lives first… thank you…
    BUT , Thanks Very Much, Professor Mayor Bob, for the inspirational , and economical re-model of the plaza de panama in balboa park, brillant and beautiful, a simple and elegant solution…my compliments, and to the city planners too…
    ALSO, i have heard that our US miltary, and even our own lifeguards are doing sexual harrassment workshops on a regular basis to try to come to grips with their masculine ego issues… good luck boys! and i mean that!

  3. avatarMiguel G says

    I work in private industry if after a full investigation it is found that harassment has occurred, appropriate corrective action will be taken, which may include disciplinary action ranging from a reprimand to termination of employment.

    In Filner’s case The City’s sexual harassment policy should be exercised including a complete investigation. If proven to be true, disciplinary action must take place like it would for any other City employee. An apology video is not disciplinary action.

  4. avatarbob dorn says

    It’s going to be interesting to see how KOGO, Channel 10’s sister a.m. radio station and host to Rush Limbaugh treats the mayor’s confession and promise to amend his life. For instance, Sully hosts MANTALK! there in late mornings. We’ll see if he and his manly callers use words like feminazi in reaction to Filner’s me culpa. Then… there’ll be Manly Dougchester’s old (boy) newsletter with its adaptation to this day’s events. Voice of San Diego will have its 30 minutes on the weekend at Clear Channel’s KOGO, too.
    Get out the hate meter.

  5. avatarthoughtfulbear says

    “…election age limit for old folks…”? Age has NOTHING to do with this.

    To admit that you have a problem, that you need help, and are resolved to get that help, is a huge effort to own up to, just to yourself.

    Imagine saying the same to your family. To your friends.

    Now, imagine Our Mayor saying it to the entire community – or, wait, he’s just done that! Good for him!

    It’s far more important that he succeeds, for his own sake and everybody else’s; though I don’t doubt for one moment that there still are – and always will be – those down on all-fours praying for him to fail…

    “He who is without sin, let him cast the first stone…”

    • avatarMiguel G says

      Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?”She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.”

      Let’s see if Filner will “sin no more”

  6. avatarHoward Elliott says

    So I am just curious at this time why we all, as citizens of this great city, will have to endure an intolerable, costly, and unbearable amount of time and resources to a person’s behavior counseling while also trusting them to run the city, it makes no sense at all, please Mr. Filner step down for the good of the city and let the city move on successfully without all this baggage weighing us all down in the process. Please!!!

    SAN DIEGO – In a statement released on DVD, San Diego Mayor Bob Filner has offered an apology for his recent behavior. In his statement, Filner said, in part, “I begin today by apologizing … I must and will change my behavior …” The mayor acknowledged that the claims against him “are serious,” and said he would be participating in sexual harassment training. He also asked that he be given a chance to prove he could change. … So this is supposed to be an acceptable fix to apparently true allegations? I don’t think so, now I am totally upset over this and our voices will be heard loud and clear, his corrections/remedies to these issues need to be done on his time not the city’s and he certainly does not or should not be allowed to run our city while seeking help for his issues either. On your own time Sir, I have had enough already and sick to my stomach over this…

    • avatarGoatskull says

      Here’s something to think about. This is a quote from a friend of mine on FB:
      “I worked in an office that shut down because of a sexual harassment lawsuit. The woman was psychotic and was trusted by her boss. She was the most vulgar mouthed woman I’ve ever met (still never met anyone worse, and they had a very loose relationship with F-bombs heard throughout the office many times. At home, she would print out her boss’ emails- mostly jokes between his friends, inappropriate things he thought were private. She lost, but the office was already closed. Yes, stupid to do be inappropriate over work or personal email, but stand up for yourself and do things right. Perhaps Filner really does have “a problem”, but let’s not confuse two things. No formal complaints, no lawsuits, just women with convenient timing so Sherman and Faulconer and idiot Jan can claim “the City is coming to a screeching halt.” Try watching City TV. The City has never moved so fast. Infrastructure, cleaning bird shit on rocks, sewer jobs getting sped up, bike lanes, balanced budget, a compromise on Plaza de Panama that looks great (and will get better when patios/landscaping/planters added), homeless shelter extensions, bike lanes, mobility projects, transportation corridors…1st democratic mayor & majority council in what? 37 years or something? Sorry Channel 10 and the UT and all of the business cronies aren’t happy, but hello, 70 years old…it ain’t like he’s snapchatting dick pics and it obviously isn’t something that just started. All I’m saying is you knew what the dude was about (he was, after all, a Congressman), so add him to sleazy slimy pervy old school politicians (redundant, no?), but being an asshole hasn’t stopped him from moving stuff forward that has been in deadlock my entire life. So yeah, #TeamBob.”

  7. avatarmicaela porte says

    yah… elective age limit for old folks… do we want another alzhiemer reagan running the world? we have a youth age limit for everything….

    • avatarKathryn Burton says

      Regarding your idea of age limits: it depends on the individual. My 88 year old father-in-law just published his 30th book and is as sharp as ever – and becoming more progressive as he ages.

  8. avatarjudi says

    Micaela, Since when does this only happen to “old folks.” What age limit do you think is immune to this “problem?” It’s not that I don’t want another “alzhiemer” running the world. It’s that I don’t want another “Reagan” running the world.

  9. avatarCharlie says

    Doug, I appreciate your analysis and points to progressives – very nicely done sir!

  10. avatarTom Hunter says

    I am a bit disappointed. Man the barricades, defend our own (no matter what). All this before any knowledge of guilt or innocence. Are there any women in the editorial offices down there? What does this knee jerk reaction of save ourselves at any cost say to young people??? Filner has had a problem, evidently for a long time, and now because of a good friend (Donna Frye) he is starting to deal with it. What he doesn’t need are friends that say we’re behind you 100% – NO MATTER WHAT. What do we stand for?

  11. avatarJudy Swink says

    Doug – all I can say is Ditto to Charlie’s comment. We all need to take a deep breath and let this work itself through without making further assumptions that may or may not have foundation.

  12. avatarJudith Wesling says

    Innocent until proven guilty. The knives were out from election day onwards. But Bob has now admitted that some sort of harassment and power play has taken place. So he learns from this. It cannot be repeated, now that the consequences are clear to him. Without the public charges and facts we cannot assess the situation. I just know that that press conference by Marco Gonzalez and Cory Briggs was useless. Donna was apparently sympathetic to the alleged victims, but I am amazed she participated without letting us in on the actual misdeeds. She looked like a tool of the other two.
    Without the facts, I’m not buying the outrage. Women, stand up for yourself. If you are fired as a consequence, THEN you have a real case and protection in the law.

    • avatarCatherine says

      Actually, you don’t have to be fired to have protection under the law as a victim of sexual harassment. I supported Filner. I was excited to have an unapologetic progressive as mayor. I’m disheartened by this situation and it makes me nauseous to think how Republican operatives are just drooling with pleasure at the moment, BUT, I’m alarmed at how many progressives are eager to accept an apology and a promise to do better when we’re talking about something this serious. It’s not a sex scandal. It’s not an affair. We’re talking about sexual harassment of female staff. That can’t be easily dismissed. If it were a Republican mayor, no one here would be prepared to so easily dismiss it. The UT is calling for the city to afford Filner “due process.” Clearly, they just want to drag him through the mud. I don’t. Filner has tacitly admitted to the accusations. He said he has a problem. That he’s getting help, attending sexual harassment training and said he’s glad we’re in a time when this kind of “wrong” behavior is called out as unacceptable. He admitted to being disrespectful to his female staff. What else am I to conclude from his statement?

      I really appreciate Doug’s commentary on this today. A note of calm and reason when most progressives are kind of losing their grip on reality with conspiracy theories.

  13. avatarwizard of cape may says

    why does the mayor hate women? how can you progressives support Filners “war on women” in this year of Gaia 2013?

  14. avatar says

    Well, as the national media points out, we Americans often give politicians a second chance. Just consider: Anthony Weiner, the peter tweeter, is ahead in the race to become Mayor of New York. Elliot Spitzer, the hooker booker, will undoubtedly win the race to become Comptroller of New York. Mark Sanford, the Appalachian trail hiker, just got elected as a Congressman from North Carolina (or is it South?). I’m sure Bob Filner will still be able to do his job as Mayor of San Diego and remain popular as well. Even if he resigns, he like all the rest of them, will get a second act – maybe as a Congressman or Senator.

    Why do these people who are entrusted with doing some good take all these chances of throwing it all away – not only in terms of their own careers but in terms of the good they could have done for the underserved people of San Diego?

    • avatarrak says

      Speaking of second chances, how about Louisiana senator David Vitter? Although in 2007 he acknowledged being a client of the D.C. Madam (Deborah Jeane Palfrey), he never faced criminal charges due to the statute of limitations. He never considered resigning and the Republican party locally and nationally displayed such a forgiving mood that there was never even a need for a “second” chance. He is currently still the junior senator from Louisiana. I just can’t help but wonder how this would be playing out if the mayor were a Republican.

      • avatarCatherine says

        The difference is that this isn’t a sex scandal involving consenting adults who behave inappropriately. The accusations are of sexual harassment of his female staff. HUGE difference.

  15. avatarJEC says

    I find it useless to take sides in the battle of shadows. Why shadows? I’ve watched, listen and read and have not one piece of solid information. No names, dates, places, circumstances, what did he do – we have been giving nothing. The high point is the ABC instant poll shows most San Diegans share the same wait and see attitude. Why to stay classy San Diego, insist on facts. I am critical of Donna for failing to recognize the need to actually enlighten and inform – to write letters, hold a press conference to ask us to trust her. Sorry Donna, I need some facts to do that. For Marco and Cory, theylook like plantiff attorneys simply out to win a case in the court of public opinion in order to gain a better out of court settlement. But for Donna, her presentation conveys sincerity but wihtout a single detail. Even with Filner’s apology we no nothing. It challenges credibility, even for Donna. Excuse me folks, you toss around accusations as if they are nothing more than Frisbee’s. Either share the facts or stop talking about it. Is this all about party politics?

    • avatarDorothy Lee says

      Somebody finally said it. Agree totally. The lawyers were crass in their moves, but that’s what lawyers do. Frye seems to have been sucked inside their drama: As much as Donna’s supporters (and I was one most of the time re her council decisions) admire her, even admirable people make mistakes of judgment. She did in this case. Filner says he has erred in his personal relations and behaviors, apparently chronically, but I respect that he expresses a desire to change and believes that he can. Does he get the chance? I hope so, while he continues to advocate for the policies that he believes, and I believe, are right for San Diego. Shaming him out of office is not giving him due process. If people want to file civil suits for compensation for having suffered his behavior, then they have to come forward, sue, and make sworn statements. Marco G is evidently taking all calls.

  16. avatarbob dorn says

    Good on all of you, Doug, Dorothy Lee, JEC, Goatskull, Judith Wesling, and all the rest of us who wonder how a mayoral election can be undone because two lawyers and a politician say in a press conference that they have it on good authority that the mayor did something they can’t describe to people they can’t name.

  17. avatar says

    There are remedies under the law if one has been wronged. Women and men alike avail themselves of these remedies through legal processes. But it takes courage to seek legal justice and it isn’t accomplished by surrogates.

    Openness and courage are in short supply in this brouhaha — except for Mayor Filner. Filner was publicly pilloried for serious offenses by three surrogates, but neither he nor we were allowed to hear the evidence or see the accusers. Instead, Filner was called upon by his accusing “friends” to resign elected office “immediately” after seven months’ service.

    Filner was both smart and courageous to perform his prompt mea culpa. Even if he is an alleged serious miscreant, he is our smart courageous alleged serious miscreant. He accepted responsibility for negative and insensitive behavior to colleagues at City Hall; he publicly apologized; he said he will make personal amends; he said he will seek counseling to modify his behavior; he said he resolves to do better as the Mayor of San Diego. He should be held to these promises. He also declined the invitation to resign, and I am glad for that.

    I am stunned by the perfidy of the surrogates — leveling accusations against anyone in this manner — without evidence or a single warm-bodied complainant. I am deeply skeptical when two of the surrogates are proud practicing lawyer-warriors who accept only paying clients and are accustomed to being heard. I am shocked that the third surrogate, Donna Frye, has participated in this kangaroo court to remove Mayor Bob Filner from office forthwith, purportedly based on her nurturing feelings for wounded anonymous co-workers at City Hall.

    I have no idea why three such politically-savvy people would resort to such crude and damaging tactics, but I do know it makes me question their motives and their intelligence. I also know they will have done grievous harm that will prove difficult to recover from. Thanks a lot.

    I recall Frye as often being idealistic beyond the point of naivete, “nurturing” (according to CityBeat’s admiring David Rolland — who also admires new Democrat Nathan Fletcher) beyond the call and practice of politics in San Diego, and also as a (robbed?) disappointed mayoral contender from the past. So I wonder about that.

    • avatarDorothy Lee says

      The more I consider how this has been handled, the angrier I get. There has been much talk about “revictimization” and “fear of retribution.” The latter charge is silly; there are many levels of protection in the work place, and every avenue of recours and redress is open to anyone who has a complaint. And any revictimization that occurs is appearing more and more likely to be the result of how this has been dealt with. The surrogates, in their emotional claims and use of words such as “horrifying” and worse may have set up the accusers for a fall if any specific revealed charges fall short of criminal assault or civil rights violations.

      Lorena Gonzalez has now admitted that Filner did nothing “illegal,” only “inappropriate.” Susan Davis has spoken with Filner and seems to be aware of his inappropriate behavior, knows he needs to change, but doesn’t believe he should resign. Neither do Sherry Lightner and Francine Busby (La Jolla Light interviews).

      Meanwhile, ugly, racist cartoons have been posted on a Facebook page to recall Filner (FB or someone has removed them in the past few hours). And Marco Gonzalez is flippant enough to tweet “stay tuned” as he waits for clients.

      I hope everyone can recover from this.

  18. avatarDianne says

    Thanks everyone for giving this some thought and being willing to have it published. It helped clarify my own thoughts: give him a second chance. Let him have an opportunity to redeem himself and continue his work for the city. Perhaps some good will come out of this.

    • avatarLaura E. says

      The local Democratic political machine would rather sell him down the river. I hope Filner makes their lives hell.

  19. avatarjohn eisenhart says

    The information is getting more confusing as the story unwinds. And why is Donna in front of the attorney’s building, she can stand on her own turf. Why the mystery to the story? Trust you?You? This involves million people who are governed by Bob not three people who say trust us. No – lets hear the truth from all involved then make a decision on the matter.