How to Get Mayor Bob Filner Out of Office and Why It Won’t Happen

by on August 5, 2013 · 37 comments

in Columns, Government, Media, Politics, The Starting Line

startinglinelogoBy Doug Porter

The City Council is on August recess. The Mayor is getting his head examined—one hopes from within, at least. And the campaign to get rid of Bob Filner continues, having failed to do much more than foster a gaggle of press conferences, one civil lawsuit, a nascent recall movement and whole lot of nastiness.

There is, of course, The Shame.  Let’s face it; the Mayor is a masher. As Daily Show substitute teacher John Oliver put it, there’s a lot of “ewww” there.  Admitting that there is a problem and doing something about it, however, are two vastly different things.

While the rollout, timing and (probable) coaching of the assorted witnesses against Bob Filner may not be a coincidence, denying that the Mayor has a problem doesn’t solve anything. I suspect he’s done enough denying in his lifetime to cover any quota imaginable.

Questioning the veracity of those women in comments around town won’t do squat either, except making the writer of the comments look bad and the Mayor look worse.

At this point the only arbiter of truth that counts is a judge or jury. And despite what some people would like us to believe, Trial by Twitter has not yet taken the place of our judicial system.

Bob Filner won’t back down under fire. It’s just not in his DNA.  I didn’t coin that phrase, former Mayor Jerry Saunders did recently in a UT-San Diego interview.  The current Mayor grew a thick skin during his civil rights years (a couple of months in prison will do that to a person) and has learned to suppress the urge to flee when confronted with threats.

You Must Be Evil

none-of-the-aboveThe “Mayor’s gotta resign” people around town are looking increasingly like they were plucked from a novella about the Salem witch hunts, i.e., “What? You haven’t renounced Satan yet? You must be evil, too.”

For an example, we’ll turn to VOSD part-time ‘freelancer’ and fulltime comment troller Randy Dotinga:

Hey, has anyone seen Filner apologists Don Bauder and Nicole Murray Ramirez in the same room? Just curious.

— Randy Dotinga (@rdotinga) August 5, 2013

Both of the aforementioned human beings are not without frailties.  But the mocking of them for supporting the Mayor is illustrates the kind of self-righteous faux morality inherent in this movement.  It’s ‘he’s bad (Filner), so we get to be bad, too’. And this isn’t one sided.  There’s been plenty of venom coming from the other side of the tracks.

At this point I choose “none of the above”.  For many of these folks, that’s the same as saying you’re on the ‘other side’. I’ve been given the distinct impression that’s not an option.

After two years of urging people to attend and participating in the VOSD Politifest, I had no interest in attending this year, knowing full well from reading the points of view expressed by the panelists and promoters that there would be no room for the point of view that demanding resignation may not be a good or even the only answer.

Like many San Diegans, my point of view on hizzoner has evolved as the picture has become clearer.  I hate the sins, but not the sinner.  And because I truly care about what happens to the city, I’m not willing to subscribe to the “everybody knows” fan club.

Recall, which at least gives the people a say in the matter, isn’t likely to work.

The chances of any San Diego effort to recall succeeding are virtually nil. The bar to qualify is set high and any five dollar lawyer can tie it up in court for years.

As SDFP’s occasional contributor Jay Powell points out:

…my understanding of the court decision that the City Attorney and Council believe they need to fix is that it is unconstitutional to not let registered voters in the official jurisdiction vote on each matter separately. In essence they are two different issues on the same ballot: A. Do you want to recall the official? B. who do you want to vote for other than the current person holding that office from the list of those who have qualified as candidates. you can vote for A or B or A and B.

You can vote yes or no on A and still get to vote on the B list. They apparently have corrected State law to comply, but San Diego is still out of compliance. Regardless of whether that makes sense to you, it is apparently the law. The real fun will come as to whether it is constitutional to change the city rules in the middle of an official’s term (ie, I ran for the office and got elected under this set of rules…) 

While we’re at it, I’d like to dispel the notion, propagated by some in the media, the recall leader Michael Pallamary is some kind of “land use consultant”.  The guy has a decades old grudge against Bob Filner as evidenced via a posting over at SDRostra as part of a memoriam for deceased conservative activist Jim Sills.  And I suspect this is just the tip of the iceberg.

You Want Him Out? Here’s an Idea..

third wayAssuming our Mayor has a problem and it truly is in the best interests of our city for him to resign, how does one get him to step aside?

The answer is not to threaten him in what he sees as his role of defender of the downtrodden.

You might, on the other hand, get away with promising that good governance will occur without him.  Say it in a believable fashion (i.e., anybody but Todd Gloria or Jan Goldsmith mouthing the words), give Filner a way out that doesn’t increase (or at least abates) his legal problems and he could be gone.

The real work here would be defining good governance.  A package of proposals and a commitment to back them, combined with a promise to not simply restock city hall with Jerry Sanders’ cronies might just do the trick

It wouldn’t be a fast process, but it’d be faster than any of the other choices available.

And it ain’t gonna happen.

Because the people pulling the strings here (Donna Frye, et. al., are really no longer players) won’t let it happen. His bad behavior has been a convenient excuse; the Recall Filner website domain registrations were done more than seven months ago.

Over the next few weeks we’ll see a Pandora’s box of bad policy being threatened (or enacted) in the hope Filner will back down. It’s gonna be almost as cringe inducing as watching those assorted women describe his conduct.

It’ll be like “Resign Bob or we’ll shoot this cute kitty”. Not literally; maybe something more subtle, like bulldozing Balboa Park. Or one of Carl DeMaio’s big donors announcing that he’s laying off employees because nobody wants to vacation here. You get the picture…

Speaking of dear Carl, word on the streets is that the (GOP leaning) Tarrance Group is polling around town looking to see if voters are sufficiently incensed to swallow their fears of the Dark Lord.

So Many Questions…

UT-San Diego ran a lengthy interview with Lee Burdick on Sunday, the Mayor’s latest chief of staff that actually made her (and by default the administration) sound reasonable. It was damn sweet of them to do so after putting columnist Logan Jenkins on the front page last week suggesting all the key players left at City Hall were some kind of quislings and urging them to resign. To hear Jenkins tell it, the Mayor’s so guilty he doesn’t even deserve a lawyer.

Here’s a snippet of the Burdick interview (Do read the whole thing!):

Q: At least one critic of Walt Ekard’s decision to accept a job as Filner’s chief operating officer described it as “enabling a monster.” Do you consider yourself enabling a monster?

BURDICK: “No, I do not. I would never characterize the mayor as a monster and anybody who does is engaging in the worst form of hyperbole. He was elected by the citizens of San Diego because of the values and the vision he presented and I am standing up for those values and that vision. I know that the legal process and the mayor’s defense is going to play itself in time and we’re going to know the right thing to do at the right time. But I refuse to jump to conclusions because the mayor may have a challenging personality, that he’s done anything wrong. I just refuse to go there. I think that’s contrary to his right to confront his accusers, which he has not done, and to build an evidentiary record on which a fair and just decision can be based.”

Then there’s the Voice of San Diego interview with former Filner chief of staff Vince Hall.  I was biting my tongue so hard while reading it I thought it’d bleed.  What a self-serving load of crap:

Hall said that he had long heard infidelity rumors involving Filner, but McCormack’s comment in the June 20 staff meeting was the first time he had heard any allegations of sexual harassment against the mayor from his staff.

Hall, who had worked for the mayor on and off since the late 1980s, said all he heard before becoming mayoral chief of staff was that Filner was a “womanizer” and that he never confronted him on any of those rumors.

“The mayor was my supervisor,” he said. “We never had a personal conversation about any personal issue.”

I’m wondering if any of the folks (some of whom are amongst the Mayor’s accusers) who actually had to work with this man will step up and refute this balderdash.  From what I hear, (and, yes I’ve heard plenty, from multiple sources) the truth of the matter is in another universe from the city hall world Hall described.  Sadly, I got all this info on background some time ago, so all I can do is jump up and down and flap my arms.

Sore Losers, Again

sdfp-UT-SD-logo-goldAs if picking a (mostly) losing slate of candidates last fall was enough of an indignity, word’s out that UT-San Diego publisher Doug Manchester feels that he got the short end of the stick in his attempt to buy the Boston Globe.

From the Boston Herald:

A losing Boston Globe contender is claiming his San Diego media company outbid Red Sox owner John Henry — and would have gone even higher — a bombshell allegation that he says could delay the deal and leave the New York Times Co. open to shareholder backlash.

“We bid significantly more than Henry,” said John Lynch, the CEO of U-T San Diego, one of the Globe finalists. “At the end of the day, I’m certain our bid was higher and could have been a lot more higher if they had just asked. I’m just stunned. I thought this was a public company that had a fiduciary duty to get the most by its stockholders. … From the beginning, I don’t think they wanted to sell to us.”

Sometimes life’s about more than money.  Maybe they should try a political breath mint next time.

Check Out the SDFree Press Calendar

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On This Day: 1957 - American Bandstand made its network debut on ABC-TV. The show was hosted by Dick Clark. Until this day the show had been a local show in Philadelphia.  1963 – The Limited Test Ban Treaty was signed by the United States, Britain, and the Soviet Union. The treaty banned nuclear tests in space, underwater, and in the atmosphere.  1981 – The U.S. federal government started firing striking air traffic controllers.

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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 won awards for 'Daily Reporting and Writing: Opinion/Editorial' from the Society of Professional Journalists in 2013 and 2014. Doug is a cancer survivor (sans vocal chords) and lives in North Park. NEW: Ello contact @dougbob
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avatar Anna Daniels August 5, 2013 at 10:22 am

San Diego has opted for a good old fashioned, thoroughly orchestrated, auto de fe instead of the usual summer BBQs this year. Here in City Heights, we continue to address emails to Mayor Filner. What are our options? Calling Doug Manchester?
So I sent off my email to Mayor Filner today reminding him of what needs to be done in City Heights–City regulation of the taxi industry (see Jim Miller’s excellent article); additional bilingual Vietnamese/English staff for the police Multicultural Community Office; and utilization of the Mayor’s homepage, and District 9’s, to provide information about enrollment in ACA (Obamacare).
Mayor Filner is not going anywhere yet, and neither are we, in City Heights. We have neither the luxury nor the cynicism to give up on good governance.

avatar Judith Wesling August 5, 2013 at 11:03 am

Excellent catch, Doug, of the whine, whine, whine of Manchester and John Lynch. Maybe not choosing Manchester in the Boston GLobe deal also had something to do with this:
from the NYTimes, 8-5-13: “Mr. Henry benefited in the deal from the fact that the Time Company has agreed to hold onto the group’s pension obligation.”
Does anyone imagine that Doug Manchester would not stick it to the unions connected to the paper? The Times Company felt the Boston Red Sox owner would be a better steward of local interests than Manchester, apparently.
And then this: “Sometimes a newspaper does not have to turn a big profit to benefit a local owner. In San Diego, Mt. Manchester, a real estate developer, bought the San Diego Union Tribune in 2012, changed its name to The U-T San Diego and immediately began pushing his development agenda and candidates for public office who shared those values.”

Oh snap!

avatar Kim Schmidt August 5, 2013 at 12:02 pm

Thanks for calling out Mike Pallamary.

avatar john eisenhart August 5, 2013 at 12:05 pm

Okay- I changed my mind- Filner needs to stay in office as long as possible. This is actually a huge opportunity to advance progress liberal causes. Filner should enact as many policy decisions as he can.
Fair wage for all city jobs, take the CCDC money and hand it out small businesses, Skyline, City Heights- Fire the Police chief (after all he was head of the CONVICTED sex assault cop Alvarellos)- City council voted to support the cop in attorney fees, remember that Mr. Gloria, Mr. Falcouner? etc… What ever power the Mayor has use it. Go hog wild. Its a cultural war right? The Power Elite have been at war with the average person for 45 years. Time to push back.

avatar bob dorn August 5, 2013 at 12:29 pm

The longer this thing goes on the better for the city. If the Republicans can paralyze Washington, San Diego’s Democrats can elect a mayor.

avatar Cynthia August 5, 2013 at 12:36 pm

Or simply keep one.

avatar bob dorn August 5, 2013 at 12:54 pm

Yeah, I guess I was saying — what with the recall nonsense that started way before the damsels sang and with the phantom “federal investigation” also attached to Filner by GOPMerdia — that ANY Democratic mayor would have been attacked. Ms Frye, who experienced a suspect ballot disqualification herself, certainly must know that.
The longer the wannabe bluenoses, and the actual alcoholics, continue their witch hunt the more absurdly nasty they’ll appear, in comparison to our sometime skirt chaser.

avatar lori saldana August 5, 2013 at 12:24 pm

San Diego is definitely going down the rabbit hole. It remains to be seen who and what is lurking below.

Agreed: we need to consider the curious timing of these allegations and the convenient coalition that has emerged: local environmental attorneys (now overshadowed by Ms. Allred), their close associates and family, all chiming in and demanding “off with his head.”

Did they really think the sheer decibel level of their announcements would be enough to drive Filner out of City Hall?

The Mayoral 6 month “honeymoon” ended in June, approx. We have officially entered the countdown to the midterm elections, and- suddenly- the problems many of us had known about for years came to the forefront?

Very convenient timing, to stir up the local electorate who, in off year elections, are already inclined to “throw out the bums” and join the Tea Party.

The biggest winner in all this may be KPBS news. They had first bite at the apple, and have forced the other news organizations to scramble to keep up.

“Investigative reporting” is suddenly in vogue again! If it continues beyond this scandal, and looks beyond the “sex, power and politics” of the moment, that could be the best thing to emerge from the rubble that is piling up as we attract national attention.

avatar Cynthia August 5, 2013 at 12:35 pm

Lori:
Many good points. I hope that someone as smart as Filner, with this huge public outing of his problems, can seriously address them. Hey my father gave up smoking in one day. And his energy and policy are first-rate.

Also, we listened to 89.1 yesterday while in the car. During the time we listened it was just music, but we are going to listen every time we get in the car to see how the talking is. As I mentioned on Sunday, bad reception on Torrey Pines and Genessee. North Park fine.

avatar Randy Dotinga August 5, 2013 at 1:58 pm

Fact Check! I am a full-time (paid) freelancer and part-time (unpaid) comment troll.

The latter volunteer work reflects my sterling commitment to public service.

avatar Frances O'Neill Zimmerman August 5, 2013 at 3:00 pm

Oh, where to begin?

Let’s work backwards.
1) Dotinga ought not parse his characterization here as a troll: it represents true Christian Charity. His “Morning Report” over at Voice of San Diego is an anti-Filner propaganda disgrace.
2) Lori, KPBS is no “winner” in this set-up: KPBS is a water-carrier and breathlessly complicit with their big-money funders from Qualcomm and elsewhere who hate Bob Filner and want to replace him with tabula rasa Nathan Whatsisname. (Maybe you were just kidding.)
3) Good thinking John Eisenhardt! Mayor Filner DOES need to stay in office as long as
possible — and that would be to the end of the term to which he was elected by 55% of the people.
4) Yes, Judith, that Lynchkick of Papa Doug complained yesterday about getting shut out of bidding for the Boston Globe, but try this for High Irony: today the Boston Globe’s know-nothing editorial page inveighed against Mayor Bob Filner’s staying in office, citing as their source our own fish-wrap, the San Diego U-T. (I am trying to gain
99-cent on-line access to the Globe to make a scathing comment.)
5) Yes, Anna, there is much to be done for the neighborhoods of our city. Filner needs to get on his horse and continue doing good works, while the rest of us keep the faith.

avatar La Playa Heritage August 5, 2013 at 3:30 pm

Hi All,

Please get up to date on the $1 Billion from Tax Increment (TI) in Successor Agency assets hoarded by Civic San Diego CCDC Redevelopment Agency (RDA). The Housing assets are under the control of Civic San Diego. Late this summer 2013 the State Department of Finance (DOF) will unfreeze the remaining $616 million in non housing assets. Including over $100 million in cash and bond proceeds siting in the bank.

http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs/news-ticker/2013/aug/05/former-ccdc-misused-a-billion-dollars-over-two-dec/

http://www.sandiegoreader.com/news/2013/jun/19/citylights1-will-civic-san-diego-help-truly-needy/

http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs/news-ticker/2013/aug/01/filner-imbroglio-is-all-about-greed/

http://www.tinyurl.com/20130610a

avatar JEC August 5, 2013 at 4:54 pm

The “must be evil” comment hit a nerve. On Thursday my old friend Terry slammed me hard when I mentioned I still could not support DeMaio – if you don’t support the opposition then you must condone Filner’s bad behavior. No middle ground – drive the herd into a stampede – a mad rush before anyone can think about it. Jay Powell provides good advice; ponder and reflect, no need to rush to judgment least you be a tool of others.

avatar Tom Hunter August 5, 2013 at 6:39 pm

OMG that ass City Councilman “The sky is falling” was on KPbs again. Oh the city is so screwed. Can’t wait to get back to the good old days of corruption in the streets. KPBS is starting to sound like kpBS. Good overview.

avatar Goatskull August 6, 2013 at 8:41 am

This much I think. Whether or not Bob will finish out his first term remains to be seen. No one has a crystal ball. Assuming he does finish his term he is so mired in all the controversy I have serious doubts he will accomplish a lot of what he set out to do, and I doubt even more he’ll be elected to a second term. Plenty of liberals/progressives want him gone even if it means a less progressive Democrat takes his place and even if it means the possibility of a Republican. At least that’s the impression I get from people I talk to. No matter your feelings on him, this looks to be a bad situation with no silver lining.

avatar Simon Mayeski August 6, 2013 at 9:52 am

Doug Porter, your work (and opinions) continue to make the most sense, day in and day out, of anyone, on this topic without the absolute frenzied craziness the other scribes have seemingly chosen. (And yes, I read “the whole thing” – the Burdick interview.) The way-over-the-top All Filner-All the Time nonsense at VOSD kept me away from Politifest this year too and has gotten me to wonder why I keep supporting those guys with my pitifully small donation each year…time to match theirs with one to you folks, at least, on the next renewal which I think is coming up soon :( And thanks for including Jay Powell’s bits – he’s another very sharp guy with smart things to say.

avatar Doug Porter August 6, 2013 at 12:08 pm

Thank you Simon. It’s always nice to get compliments.

I want emphasize that my remarks about Politifest were not intended to disparage VOSD as an institution and I’m certainly not advocating for people not to support it. I just feel like there’s no room in their tent these days for my sort.

I love the concept (not necessarily the execution) and read them regularly. When I’ve had spare change in the past I’ve sent it their way. I don’t buy into the conspiracy theories about VOSD and their funders, although I do think those relationships do influence their point of view, if for no other reason than everybody wants ‘approval’ for what their doing.

The only analogy I can draw to describe my sense of what going on over there these days is to call to mind the reason my father is no longer a Republican; they’ve left me/us by the side of the road.

avatar Simon Mayeski August 6, 2013 at 3:37 pm

Nor were mine, really, Doug. I’ve been a supporter of VOSD since the beginning – July of 2006, and even though I see their “lens” as center-right, on the political spectrum, and mine is not, they have been good and true reporters and have done many very interesting projects. I enjoy their monthly events. I was happy to do one of the video supporter things, although it has never been posted on their site :( And I have done a few of their volunteer gigs.

There’s may be even more room for me there than for you, from what you are saying. It’s just that lately they have been all on the Filner thing, especially in their Morning Report, and while I guess that helps them pull the eyeballs in, they sound, sorry, just like the U-T as they do so. That may be more Randy Dotinga than Scott Lewis – and I am first to admit Dotinga is not my favorite correspondent – but even so…and I think I miss Andrew Donohue. Scott tries really hard, I think, but working from that center-right spot limits him more than he knows. Yet.

I tried posting in the past on their site, but every time I said anything interesting I got an argument from Jim Jones and felt like I was spending all my time fighting him. Which was not worth it, because his responses seemed written from a spot at a 90 degree angle from reality.

Well, I’ve likely pissed off enough people for one day, but I feel good getting all that out :)

avatar Randy Dotinga August 7, 2013 at 12:43 am

Hi,

Sorry I’m not your favorite correspondent at VOSD. Maybe I could make the Top 10? Could I be your favorite talking head if the only people left on earth are you, me and Glenn Beck?

FYI: I write the Morning Report four days a week. It is always based on direction from my bosses, and it’s always edited before being published. It’s usually slightly different than what I submit. Items are added, removed and revised.

• Filner: Everybody wants to stop talking about him but no one ever does. There’s intense interest in this on-going story.

• You’re always welcome to send comments about the Morning Report to me and VOSD. I will valiantly fight the temptation to view every criticism as an attack. (This is a common affliction in journalism. Maybe 2 weeks of therapy will cure it.)

• Scott is most definitely not center-right. It’s extremely rare to find mainstream journalists who fit that description. He doesn’t.

• As for Jim Jones: He offers a Tea Party perspective that’s not often seen on the VOSD site but definitely exists in the community and has influence at the ballot box. He’s definitely aggravating to argue with. (I know this from personal experience. Ugh.) But he does serve a purpose in getting people to think about and defend their assumptions.

-Randy (BTW: I’m an independent contributor to VOSD. I don’t speak for them and they don’t speak for me. We all like it that way.)

avatar Simon Mayeski August 7, 2013 at 11:20 am

- OK, Randy, you’re now in my Top 10 at VOSD. Provisionally, of course and subject to ratings changes. DON’T rest on those laurels; if you try to reduce the ‘humor’ level a bit in the Morning Report, your number will likely improve. As an alternative, you could drop the whole writing thing and go all out for a stand-up career. One or the other is probably best.
– I didn’t say Scott was center-right; I said the VOSD “lens” was center-right and there is a difference. I think that lens has competing directional pulls -Scott’s interests, beliefs and knowledge are only part of the picture; where funding comes from is likely another, and what draws our eyeballs yet another. And this list is not exhaustive.
– Jim Jones: would suggest either a daily word count limit or daily post limit, whatever is easier to manage. Seriously. Give us all a little (limited) peace. Try it out, might improve your page view count – I’d post more often, for sure. May be a good thing, maybe not :)

Rock on.

avatar Judith Wesling August 8, 2013 at 2:24 pm

Regarding Jim Jones – he feels he must comment on everything, and I find his thoughts on teachers and our public schools far too negative.

avatar nostalgic August 8, 2013 at 5:03 pm

different “from”, not different “than.”

avatar Catherine August 6, 2013 at 2:44 pm

I always enjoy Doug’s thoughtful commentary on this and other issues, but I’m amused by the accusations of hyperbole by the same folks here who compare this situation to the Salem witch trials and lynchings. That seems to entirely miss the point that in those tragic historical events, the persecuted generally never did anything wrong. They were simply swept up in ignorance and the violence of mob rule. The same folks who are saying, “take a deep breath,” and “calm down,” are also declaring that Balboa Park will be razed and developed if Filner is no longer our mayor. It’s ridiculous. Overreacting pot meet kettle.

What I do appreciate particularly about Doug’s pieces on this issue is that he always takes care not to slutshame and diminish the accusers, a habit most of the regular posters here have gotten into with the choice of words like “damsel.”

I’m not calling Filner a monster (although interesting he used that word in a self-description) or suggesting he should be locked up for 20 years or burned at the stake or lynched. But even if I thought his therapy efforts were sincere (I’m skeptical but who knows) lifelong habits are hard to break. But that doesn’t matter either. His credibility is shot. He’s embarrassed himself completely. The idea that he could carry on in the biggest management position we have in this city, it’s just beyond absurd. And if he were in any other job, he would have been placed on administrative leave and fired, but he most certainly would not be allowed to carry on in a management position.

avatar Cynthia August 7, 2013 at 12:18 am

Catherine:

Did you find the previous two mayors that were allowed to complete their terms credible?

If embarrassing oneself is a criterion for resignation of office, perhaps we should be asking Jan Goldsmith and Todd Gloria to please step down.

avatar Catherine August 7, 2013 at 12:55 pm

Have Todd Gloria and Jan Goldsmith been accused of sexually harassing members of their staff and using their positions to leverage dates and sexual favors? Have they been accused of creating an extremely hostile and abusive work environment? I’m not aware they have. That Filner has essentially admitted this behavior seals the deal for me.

I was no big fan of Jerry Sanders, but political differences aren’t a reason for a mayor to resign or be recalled. Dick Murphy resigned in the wake of the pension scandal. Whatever one feels about JG and TG, neither has done anything that makes it impossible for them to effectively manage their own staff. Given the size of the mayor’s staff, I’d say his credibility problems there are a huge liability.

In what job, do you think you could be accused of sexually harassing staff, making repeated unwelcome advances at every woman you encounter professionally (women who are in a position to need something from you, which is an abuse of power), essentially admit to the behavior, and get to stay on?

avatar Cynthia August 7, 2013 at 10:52 pm

I think that in any job, the accusations would have to be validated and the accused have a chance to defend himself or herself instead of being fired on the say-so of others. What is the big hurry, that the Mayor cannot have his day in court? Why must the mayor be recalled forthwith?

Your stated reasons for Mr. Filner leaving without a chance to defend himself were that his credibility is damaged and he embarrassed himself. Todd Gloria has very little credibility to some, since being elected he merely snuggled into the fold and did not exert himself for the neighborhoods. And he has embarrassed himself in his transparent desire to become mayor without the trouble of an election. The legal problems of the amiable mayor, Mr. Sanders, speak for themselves. It is not embarrassing to be caught taking orders from the Lincoln Club? As for Mr. Goldsmith, he became a national laughingstock himself with his recent prosecution of the sidewalk chalker. That is embarrassing, one might even say incredibly so.
Dick Murphy was not allowed to complete his term. Mayor Murphy resigned “in the wake of” pension scandals that he did not cause. I think that “in the wake of” is language clearly designed to imply that Mr. Murphy brought these problems on himself. He did not, and I would have been happy to see him fight the national smearing done to him the way Filner is apparently going to do. I am glad to see anyone fight for his or her dignity and rights, and that includes both Mr. Filner and Mr. Filner’s accusers.

avatar Catherine August 8, 2013 at 10:05 am

I appreciate your argument for due process. I do. I get that there is a lot of potential to damage someone with accusations. But, in this case, there is a difference between the legal due process for the individual accused and the political process. I’m not an attorney, but I believe that in most cases, the employee would be placed on mandatory administrative leave during an investigation because most people can see that it’s hard to carry on as a manager when you’ve been accused of this kind of abuse of power. Actually, as I understand it, this is the City of San Diego’s policy in such cases.

Frankly, the fact that the mayor doesn’t seem to think this would inhibit his ability to serve as the city’s leader tells me he doesn’t fully understand the gravity of what he’s been accused of. Or, he doesn’t care. But it adds to my skepticism about the sincerity of his therapy.

I do not believe the mayor can effectively manage the affairs of the city because he has has essentially admitted to a pattern of behavior that can only be described as sexual harassment. That’s my opinion, obviously. I’m not a lawyer. He has only said that he doesn’t believe he would be found guilty of sexual harassment, without actually denying that he has done anything he has been accused of and while simultaneously admitting that he has a serious behavioral problem.

As a result, his credibility is shot. He can’t even meet with women privately regarding city business because no one can be sure he won’t hit on them or try to touch them. Lee Burdick has tried to paint this as a normal, open government policy, but that’s spin.

Your accusations against Todd Gloria are that he is guilty of bald political ambition (and Filner’s career has been entirely altruistic?) and isn’t doing the job the way you want him too. I can understand that might make him a disappointment, but it’s hardly grounds for his resignation and certainly can’t be compared to the behavioral problems, if we want to call them that, that the mayor has admitted to.

So my argument is not that the mayor must resign because he has embarrassed himself, but because of how he has embarrassed himself and undermined his own credibility.

Murphy did resign in the wake of the pension scandal. But there is no implication on my part that he caused it. I am well aware that he did not. He made a decision that the city needed to move forward and sacrificed himself.

avatar Cynthia August 8, 2013 at 1:19 pm

In so doing, Mr. Murphy did not help the city that betrayed him, and we got what we probably deserved and will get again if Mr. Filner is driven from office: robbed blind.

avatar Judith Wesling August 8, 2013 at 2:22 pm

What I find interesting is that it was men who announced that women could not meet with the mayor alone. So very protective. Why not leave it up to women? Either to decide on an individual basis, or get together themselves and make it a joint decision, which could be supported by the men who head the department etc.
As a woman, I can hardly credit the descriptions of “head lock” and “dragging me around the room”. No man would ever do that to me twice.
Having not been there and experienced the actions of the mayor, I am not blaming women per se. I am just wondering how to take these accusations. Another reason for due process, where more legalistic heads prevail.

avatar Catherine August 8, 2013 at 3:16 pm

The men have made this policy because they are in charge.

The rule isn’t to protect women, it’s to protect the city from liability should he continue to harass women while performing his job. Since they have detailed knowledge of the accusations, they can’t possibly do otherwise. If he were a city employee he would be on mandatory administrative leave, but they can’t force the mayor on leave.

avatar Judith Wesling August 8, 2013 at 3:52 pm

Why not two women in the office when consultation with the mayor is to be done? One as the witness. Would that be sufficient to protect the city?

avatar Catherine August 8, 2013 at 4:50 pm

So, you’re okay with having a mayor who can only meet with women if there’s a second person there to act as a witness in case he can’t keep his hands to himself? Also, I’m not sure the rule is that the chaperone has to be a male. Is this the case?

But I’m stunned that everyone here thinks a mayor who needs a chaperone to behave himself professionally is going to be all that effective.

avatar Judith Wesling August 8, 2013 at 8:27 pm

Here’s my last comment on this. I do not think the mayor needs a chaperone, the city attorney – I think – is the one who ordered that. I think improper language and suggestions can be dealt with by an empowered woman who can make it plain that such words are inappropriate and cannot be ever repeated. Physical contact is something else entirely, and women not only can say no but can threaten and indeed act to file charges. I do not know if any of the supposed acts reported are considered sexual assault. And I do not know if promotions were denied, or salaries cut or whatever, if the women did not comply. That’s also for due process to deal with.

I AM stunned that none of Filner’s associates, underlings or colleagues ever corrected his actions, which appear boorish and, frankly, stupid. For all these men to be now jumping in with denunciations indicates they failed. Way too much false chivalry going on here. The mayor can reform himself, and he can govern. My comment about 2 women, one being a witness, was sarcastic.

avatar Randy Dotinga August 8, 2013 at 8:31 pm

If my memory is correct, Filner’s chief of staff has said the chaperone system was the mayor’s office’s idea. I think it came up during the Rachel Maddow show interview.

avatar Cynthia August 9, 2013 at 8:36 am

Judith, I agree that San Diego probably does not need Horatio at the Bridge to protect itself from the mayor. However, in this case I think that having someone there at all times is also a protection to the Mayor, for nobody can claim later that things happened that in Mayor Filner’s opinion did not transpire in the manner floridly described by the only other person with him.

avatar Catherine August 9, 2013 at 8:45 am

Except that he was corrected many times, mostly by the women he was hitting on, and he ignored them. Okay, he stopped harassing Laura Fink after she documented his inappropriate behavior and writing, but otherwise, he continued to behave badly. It wasn’t until he was backed into this ugly scene we’re all witnessing now that he finally acknowledged he has a problem. Given the history that’s been reported, I personally doubt his sincerity since all those years of rejections and N-Os haven’t deterred his behavior. Saying women just need to be empowered and take action blames the accusers in this case and ignores the fact that they all reported responding in precisely the way you would expect someone to respond to unwelcome advances. They said no. He may have stopped with individual people who put up a barrier, but otherwise the pattern continued. It’s simply not okay to condone this behavior by putting the onus on staffers and constituents to block inappropriate behavior when it occurs after the employer has been made aware of the problem. No other employer would do that. Part of the point of sexual harassment laws is to set a standard that it shouldn’t occur at all. When you go to work or meet with people professionally, you shouldn’t be put in the position of deflecting inappropriate attention.

avatar Mark Bauman August 7, 2013 at 9:04 am

FYI, the Atlantic Magazine has a front page piece on Bob Filner this morning:

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