Part I: A Story About Sex… More or Less

by on September 3, 2013 · 112 comments

in Editor's Picks, Government, Media, Politics

filner 002By Norma Damashek / NumbersRunner

Once upon a time there was a man with an unquenchable impulse to invite women out to breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  He seemed oblivious to a fact most other men understand — there are circumstances when it’s okay to sweet-talk a woman and other circumstances when it’s not.

For a man known to be adept and dynamic at public speaking he was oddly banal and unimaginative at the art and practice of seduction: are you married… you are beautiful… your eyes mesmerize me… I want you to have dinner with me.

This man, according to TV and news accounts, routinely crossed the proverbial line.  It was reported that he surprised some women with a kiss on the cheek, or forehead, or mouth – even, purportedly, a french kiss.   Two or three women said he patted the vicinity where their rear ends reside.  There were reports of fumbled attempts to touch a breast.  A few recalled provocative whispers in their ear.

Several women said he detained them with a firm grasp of his hands on their hands or his arm wrapped around their shoulder in the region of their clavicle.  Professional women with business ties to the tourism industry told tales of being flummoxed by his too-chummy style.  A tough, well-seasoned rear admiral divulged her discombobulation when he placed his index finger on her cheek.  A volunteer at the city hall senior desk reported she was a victim of his bantering but now she’s a survivor.

Each day a new woman got seated in front of the tv cameras to describe her personal mishap with this man.  For some it provided a few minutes of free airtime to publicize a newly-published book or company or business.  Or to make a case for a quarter — no, make that half-a-million dollars in compensation for emotional distress and psychic injury.

As reported by commentators and the news media from coast to coast, this man’s unwelcome passes were startling, confusing, unnerving, and enduringly haunting to dozens of independent, upstanding, self-sufficient, fully-grown women.  He was mercilessly caricatured as a monstrous serial cad capable of transforming sturdy women into “victims” in need of societal protection and deserving restitution.   No proof needed.

Oddly, no woman has come forward with a story of retaliation, revenge, retribution, loss of employment, reduction in salary, bad letter of recommendation, cancelled contract, torn-off clothing, slapping around, or attempted rape if or when she refused this man’s request for dinner, a hug, or a kiss.  Nevertheless, he was deemed responsible for single-handedly precipitating an epidemic of PTSD among San Diego’s most accomplished women.

The man in question is Bob Filner, long-term U.S. Congressman and short-lived mayor of San Diego.

Some readers will criticize me for not being sufficiently PC but listen — I’m woman and I get it.  I know what it’s like to encounter intrusive (not to mention menacing) men in the subway, at work, around construction sites, at social events — guys who won’t take no for an answer until you make it clear that they have no choice.

Yes, I do get it.  Bob Filner was reprehensibly negligent about adhering to explicit rules governing harassment in the workplace.  He was tone deaf to the implicit rules of casual social intercourse.  He was an over-the-top kidder and skirt-chaser.  His sometimes witless, indiscriminate interactions with women were recurrent,  inappropriate, and ridiculous.  He was often a jerk.  But the fact is, when it came to a woman’s career, psyche, or physical safety this man posed no bona fide threat.

Nevertheless, a media circus hawking tales of victimization, injury, and abuse… daily episodes spotlighting aggrieved women… a specious sheriff’s hotline… high-profile “feminist lawyer” Gloria Allred as accuser, judge, and jury… minute by minute news alerts… ludicrous shaming stories planted in the news media across the country… cumulatively succeeded in demonizing this man.  He was branded as San Diego’s Public Enemy #1 and forced to resign from office.  I get that.

But here’s something I don’t get: a coherent picture of who, how, what, and why this elaborately staged morality tale, conceived in San Diego and broadcast nationwide, was successfully engineered and carried out.  While it’s common knowledge that the birds and bees bring humans to their knees, it’s the wolfpack that knows how to make the kill.

So the time has come to don my best Nancy Drew outfit and try to unearth clues to the mystery of how San Diego’s first-ever politically liberal mayor with populist, progressive credentials jumped, fell, or was pushed from his brand-new mayoral perch.

In Part II of The Birds, the Bees, and the Wolf Pack on Thursday we’ll take a look at the political intrigue and insider politics that decisively pounded the nails in this man’s coffin.  Keep your dial set.

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Norma Damashek is a long-time civic activist who focuses on promoting decision-making that serves the public good. She has spearheaded community-based coalitions and served on city and regional-government task forces and as past president of San Diego’s League of Women Voters. She opines on her website NumbersRunner.
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{ 112 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar judi September 3, 2013 at 6:45 am

AMEN!

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avatar Cynthia September 3, 2013 at 9:58 am

Thanks, Norma. While as a voter I have said farewell to the Filner era of incredible productivity and sudden fall, and am considering all the candidates for November’s special election with interest, nothing gives me greater pleasure than to see an investigative reporter tarry over an incident like this and get to the bottom of it. I look forward eagerly to Part II.

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avatar Norma Damashek September 3, 2013 at 10:20 am

Cynthia, I’m more of a close watcher than investigative reporter but my objectives are similar — to get 3-D information out to the public so we can make better decisions for our city. In this case, how and why Bob Filner got toppled as mayor has everything to do with the candidates vying for mayor and who their sponsors are. It’s a package.

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avatar Cynthia September 3, 2013 at 11:14 am

I m on board for that view, Norma. It is consonant with reality.

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avatar Lorri September 3, 2013 at 10:02 am

Thank you for continuing to see what this really is.

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avatar john eisenhart September 3, 2013 at 10:12 am

….and now we have a mayor in office who was elected by? – disenfranchising the will of the people through hyper political correctness. Norma, the deeper truth on these matters is what really matters. Keep digging.
and tangentially- County Sheriff department: Mr. Gore is in need of an expose on his history: Ruby Ridge, 9-11 terrorists , Rebecca Zahua and now James Dimaggio.
A little light on this would be public benefit….Andy Cohen? Anybody?

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avatar bob dorn September 3, 2013 at 11:02 am

To shine the light of day on this conspiracy a reporter would have to have sources within the local editorial offices of Manlychester’s SD-UT to hear what Bill Osborne, opinion director and, probably, what John Lynch, CEO told him he’d have to print. Then, too, you might need to get to the national clones of Clear Channel Communications, which owns and operates KOGO, and ask them what they told Roger Hedgecock to do on air. Did Clear Channel Communications share its strategy with the obsessives at Channel 10, which station shares its antenna with Clear Channel? Probably.
Then, of course, What did Filner do to Irving Jacobs that made KPBS turn its eyes in so unusually relentless a way on this so-called government scandal?
These are people who operate and own HUGE media outlets. They well understand the delicacy of their… er… let’s call them… editorial policies, and are normally better able than politicians to guard their insider information from public view.
We can hope some of these bozos kept records of what they were saying, and what was being said to them, like Nixon did, though I doubt they’d have made that mistake.

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avatar Anna Daniels September 3, 2013 at 11:52 am

Sex-implied or expressed- is only one form of power. We have heard from victims and their surrogates about this type of power for well over a month. I don’t know whether the news cycle has played itself out on the silence of the lambs, but there is more to the story about power. There is always more to the story about power here in our sun drenched city.

So who is running with the wolves? I am looking forward to your next installment, Norma.

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avatar Sara September 3, 2013 at 2:01 pm

Those of you who have supported Bob Filner from the beginning and continue to stand with him: you know he is a smart man. Smart enough to size people up and determine what he can likely get away with – or at least what they won’t report. He is not hapless.

Set aside the idea that women more recently and severely traumatized were unwilling to enter the public fray, and at least accept the notion that the public at large believes this to be the case. There are more women. Many more, and their stories are “worse” by salacious standards and, likely, legal standards. By indicating that you as a non-victim don’t condone mistreatment of women but that you basically don’t believe these women’s accounts of the trauma they subjectively felt, you’re standing with aggressors against women.

You’re saying that if the guy is important enough, women should stay silent about victimizations for anything short of rape.

You’re condoning the very element of society you claim is wrong, and while you mention that worse scenarios may have taken place, you make it clear you do not believe them to have taken place.

More than one thing can be true at once. Filner’s political enemies were swarming before he was sworn in. The “downtown establishment,” for all its nefarious, mystical powers, is a real thing, and its interests aren’t always the best for the rest of San Diego and her residents.

However, just because Filner’s foes benefit, it does not follow that the real and alluded-to claims of his behaviors don’t matter. Every woman who came forward put her reputation and credibility on the line, and each lived experience felt traumatic enough and out-of-the ordinary enough to warrant speaking out.

Their PTSD is every bit as real as the ‘downtown establishment.’

Nancy Drew-it-up if you’re so inclined, but try to do so without re-victimizing women and accepting men’s mistreatment of women as a fact of life. If you’re progressive enough to love the vision Filner wanted, you can move through this community without damaging the hard work of women for generations.

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avatar Frances O'Neill Zimmerman September 3, 2013 at 2:57 pm

The only victims in this summer drama that Norma is beginning to describe are the voters of this city who elected a mayor and lost him without a single constitutional transparent action by anybody. Even the judge who arbitrated the outcome (in secret) was a volunteer.
Please, spare me the song and dance about traumatized women — a Navy Rear Admiral?
Let’s hear some genuine sympathy for the little people who got out to the polls and voted
for a liberal reformer whose longstanding reckless habits brought down the roof.

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avatar Sara September 3, 2013 at 3:27 pm

I reject the progressive credentials of any person who minimizes victimization of women. You’re choosing to believe one half of Bob’s words over the other half of his words (“It’s my fault… I’m guilty, I’m sorry… but I’m innocent”) and your fabricated reality of Bob the Innocent over the words of highly credible women about the things that happened to them and how they were impacted.

Shame on you.

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avatar Anna Daniels September 3, 2013 at 4:01 pm

Sara- My takeaway from the sex part of the equation is that women are powerless-they appear to be without institutional remedies when needed; must still rely on surrogates to speak on their behalf; and even lack their own personal agency/voice to immediately respond. That’s at odds with progressive credentials too. That’s not the feminism I signed up for. And this bitter bitter pill is just one part of the story of Filner’s fall/banishment.

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avatar Sara September 3, 2013 at 4:22 pm

Fair point, Anna. However, when careers are impacted and/or people are severely distressed, and when these occur in an environment that enables victimizers by discouraging public airing of treatment along the spectrum of aggressively uncomfortable to downright sexual abuse, I can’t blame women for initially choosing silence.

We’ve not yet built utopia, and re-victimizing women who were already in situations not of their choosing cannot be our only option to building a more egalitarian, safe society. In real life, even some rape victims second-guess themselves, process the emotions and worst-case scenarios of going public and possibly being blamed and/or ignored. The negative public response around Filner’s mistreated women only reinforces this environment.

When Donna Frye tearfully said, “… and I believe them.” during the first press conference, her words were powerful, and represented life and hope for those who had suffered. Also powerful: “I don’t believe them,” which is, unfortunately, what many Filner supporters continue to say.

The voters lost out, big time. I was an outspoken supporter of Filner right up until the point when I could no longer support him.

We need to come together to enact the vision we wanted when we got him elected, and not put all our hopes into one *man’s* abilities and promises. That’s part of what continues to divide our community, and it’s part of how we got here in the first place.

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avatar Frances O'Neill Zimmerman September 3, 2013 at 4:32 pm

I have eyes to see with, Sara, and if you imagine that this story begins and ends with the victimization of women you are welcome to that illusion. Never in my lifetime have I seen such a perfectly-executed political set-up and take-down, using charges of womanizing and testimony of willing women to make it happen.

I can’t address your comment about rejecting my “progressive credentials” because I don’t have any. I think the current “progressive” fashion is a dodge for faint-hearted “practical” once-liberal Democrats who want to win the way NAFTA-loving Glass-Steagall-repealing Bill Clinton won — by any means necessary. And don’t forget, Bill is now the very rich, still-philandering husband of Hillary.

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avatar Sara September 3, 2013 at 7:53 pm

Maybe replace “Progressive” with “sentient member of an enlightened society with an ounce of compassion.”

When all else fails, resort to ageism.

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avatar bob dorn September 4, 2013 at 6:42 am

That last line is sorta creepy, Miz Sara. Actually, it’s more like an insult in a bar. You a tough guy, girl.

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avatar Cory Briggs September 4, 2013 at 6:52 am

I took her last line as being sarcastic.

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avatar Sara September 4, 2013 at 11:04 am

See elsewhere in this thread, Mr. Dorn, where folks have professed I’m too young and lack the will to understand. “Ageism” often refers to discrimination of the elderly, but in this case it’s intended to dismiss my views and credibility.

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avatar Dorothy Lee September 3, 2013 at 4:52 pm

Being a huge Nancy/Bess/George fan as a girl, I advise that Norma first look for a hex sign in and around the San Diego council offices. Then go north. Follow the trail of thieves who used all of the witchcraft possible to steal Filner’s office.

Sara, I feel sorry for you: you apparently can’t discern hokey, opportunistic accusations and distinguish them from substantive concerns. Growing up in the 1950s reading Carolyn Keene’s Nancy Drew series about three strong, independent, resourceful women taught me not only to take control of situations when bad people were doing bad things, but also to scrutinize facts and clues carefully.

No one is too old to start reading Ms. Keene. You are to0 young, Sara, to have lived the struggle to bring about laws that allowed women to fight back against institutionalized control and abuse, but you can try to learn. And then take another look at what happened here.

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avatar Catherine September 3, 2013 at 7:57 pm

Sara, as you see in this response, the crowd here is unmoved by dissent and responds with either anger or insufferable condescension usually under the presumption that you must be a very young and unwise person.

It’s one thing to say you think Filner is primarily guilty of being socially awkward and quite another to resort to the routine dismissal of what if feels like to be treated to unwelcome advances in a professional setting where they are no longer expected and certainly should no longer be tolerated. I keep hearing that all the “strong women” of a certain generation know “how to handle themselves” and would handle it in the moment. Of course, they neglect to mention that that’s exactly what pretty much all of these women did in the moment either by rejecting the advance, saying no or documenting the incident in writing. The problem, which apparently needs to be stated again and again, is that Filner never assembled all these rejections into an understanding that he was doing something wrong and had to stop. Until the great “mob” came and threatened to “lynch” him and then suddenly he discovered the “monster inside me.”

You can’t claim to be an advocate for the rights of women in the workplace and then slutshame anyone who reports abuse by using words like damsel (a popular one here) or mocking them.

And, Frances, I just have to alert you to the fact that progressivism is not a new idea at all.

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avatar Sara September 3, 2013 at 8:07 pm

Thank you, Catherine. I definitely respect that many women have endured far worse than the publicly reported accounts of Filner’s behaviors, but the “lynch mob” mentality here is tit for tat, among other, more societally pervasive slutshaming factors.

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avatar rheftmann September 3, 2013 at 5:12 pm

“The Queen (of Hearts) had only one way of settling all difficulties, great or small. ‘Off with his head!’ she said, without even looking round.”–Lewis Carroll, who, by San Diego standards, would have been banned in every school and library. There are legal ways of settling matters that arise between people. What happened to San Diego’s mayor was extra-legal. Thank you, Norma Damashak and SDFP, for your efforts in showing how democracy got highjacked when our first progressive mayor was shouted out of office.

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avatar Cynthia September 3, 2013 at 7:34 pm

rHeftmann:
I’m hearing you on the law. Great and apt excerpt, as well.

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avatar Dorothy Lee September 3, 2013 at 5:25 pm

Sara, one more bit of advice:
“When Donna Frye tearfully said, “… and I believe them.””

You don’t know Frye. I do. From way back. Long ago. She has many issues. Not all of which enable her to undertake clear thinking in certain arenas. She has many faces and demeanors, depending on the devils she sees. She is a good person, but with flaws and vulnerabilities.

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avatar Sara September 3, 2013 at 7:50 pm

Wow. So you think the women who confided in Donna were lying, and this respected two-term Councilwoman was taken advantage of by players in a grand conspiracy? I also know Donna. For only a couple years now, but she has been candid with me. I trust her lived experiences, her interpretation of first and second hand experiences, and her character. Her life has increased her capacity for compassion and her tenacity in victim advocacy.

In this thread, I’ve been told I’m too young to understand (condescending ageism), and variations on the theme that women cannot trust their own instincts.

Thanks, ladies, for pushing the needle in your generation, but I’m raising the next generation. They *will* have agency over their own bodies. By sharing details of the recent political saga with them, I am showing them that bad behaviors by men – any men – especially powerful ones who have taken advantage of their supporters – will not be tolerated. I hope you’re teaching your children and grandchildren the same.

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avatar Dorothy Lee September 3, 2013 at 9:08 pm

Sara, I and all of the women I’ve known always had agency over our own bodies. It was the institutions that thought we shouldn’t that were a source of grief, rage, reaction, and activism. A woman, particularly an older woman, who now perverts the gains made over decades of struggle is more dispiriting than any man who is a throwback to old sexist attitudes. You could understand that if you wanted to do so. You are not too young to be discerning about the depths and layers of character and events, but so far it’s not showing. You can still enlarge your perspective, now or at any age. But you have to want it.

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avatar Sara September 3, 2013 at 10:02 pm

So now I’m not just too young, I lack the intellect and will to discern “the depths and layers of character and events?” You’re quite an inspirational teacher.

One of the fascinating and distressing elements to me in all this, and why I continue to attempt engagement, is how women such as yourself choose to declare that the women involved are lying. Or to insinuate that because nobody has filed a police report regarding rape, preferably on the job, that these claims don’t rise to a level appropriate for public outrage. I just cannot fathom women treating other women so dismissively. As though your judgment of them is more credible than their expression of trauma.

You’re right that it’s worse than one sexist (or, in this case, predatory) man’s throwback to prior cultural norms which objectify, belittle, and greedily use women. It’s women who should know better, condoning him.

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avatar Frank Gormlie September 3, 2013 at 5:39 pm

Norma, cannot wait for part 2! Wow, a serial expose – here in San Diego, wow. It’s about time.

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avatar Frank Gormlie September 3, 2013 at 5:41 pm

For some fill-in-the-blanks, see today’s OB Rag article “Who Really Deposed San Diego’s Mayor and Nullified the 2012 Election?” – http://obrag.org/?p=76515

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avatar Judith Wesling September 3, 2013 at 10:11 pm

First, good work Norma, looking forward to your Part II. Second, how does anyone know the age of anyone else on this site? Remember the old New Yorker cartoon of 2 dogs, one is saying “On the internet, no one knows I’m a dog.” No puns intended. And where did this word slutshaming come from? For me, I was wary of the possible serious exaggeration of encounters. I was suspicious of the terms “headlock” and “dragging me around the office”.
Especially suspicious when the only source was the fabled U-T accounts. How easily language is altered and enhanced to fit the story…

Last Friday night the news anchor on KUSI led the story of the mayor’s last day in office with the sentence, to paraphrase slightly, we’ve reached the end of 270 days of turmoil.

Doesn’t that equate to the 9 months Mayor Filner served in office? And do you all remember the Briggs, Gonzalez, Frye press conference? Wasn’t that in July? So who wrote THAT lead? Turmoil began the moment he was elected?

There was no doubt that language escalated like a truck without brakes on the Grapevine and there was no due process.

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avatar Cory Briggs September 3, 2013 at 10:47 pm

It’s sad to see smart folks searching for (non-existent) facts to prove preconceived conspiracy theories instead of focusing on the next chapter in this city’s political future. Bob crossed too many lines, period, and many conspiracy theorists knew it but were willing to accept it as the price of progress. Let’s not be hypocrites: if we progressives believe in “community” and “democracy,” we cannot piss and moan when the guy we voted for succumbs to public pressure. Indeed, that IS democracy in action. The government didn’t force Bob’s resignation; the public did. It is no different than mobilizing the masses to prevent a politician from casting a bad vote. Bob broke the public’s trust. The U-T, the hoteliers, Todd Gloria–all wanted him gone, but none could have done it alone or even together without tens of thousands of citizens calling for him to step down. No constitutional right of his was violated–read the Bill of rights; it protects citizens from government, not citizens from other citizens–and in fact it was the citizens’ First Amendment right to call for his resignation that was being exercised. Bob’s supporters have every right to vent about the process and to criticize those of us who called on him to step down–I welcome and encourage that discussion–but it makes you sound unreasonable when you talk about constitutional violations that never happened, or assume non-existent conspiracies, or attack people like Sara with different viewpoints, you undermine the strength of the few good points you do make; you make it impossible to discern the signal against the noise.

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avatar bob dorn September 4, 2013 at 7:14 am

You went to law school. You know that lawsuits expose testimony and evidence from both sides in a struggle. That didn’t happen here.
Newspapers, online publications and traditional television sought a particular testimony from women who claim, to varying degrees, political proximity to Filner, as did a Sheriff. So far, only one woman has brought a suit.
Prior to these revelations, those organs of information repeatedly described the Democratic mayor as “aggressive,” or “rude,” “or that he stabbed people in the back.” After those statements of hate, they all ran with an unattributed (therefore weightless) story that the Feds were investigating a Sunroad bribe of Filner. They ceased printing and shouting that story.
The story that worked to bring down an elected official came from you and two others. Since you 0pened up the story, with two others, I’ve heard people say Filner always was doing these nasty things to women. They insist it was happening for decades. It was just not being reported.
When you say, “The government didn’t force Bob’s resignation; the public did,” I’d answer it was the media that did, with some strong political guidance from you and people even more powerful than you.

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avatar Cory Briggs September 4, 2013 at 7:33 am

Courts are not the only place where justice takes place, and lawyers aren’t the only people capable of or entitled to shine light on facts. The public vigorously but peacefully called for Filner to step down. That, too, is justice. If Filner believed that people were telling lies, he could have filed a defamation lawsuit; to my knowledge, that never happened. (Early on I was hearing that he planned to sue me for defamation, so I wrote to him to express my willingness to have such a case, if filed, heard on the merits as quickly as possible. I still have not been served with any such lawsuit.)

People should not act as if the only place truth exists is in court. Judges and juries reach dubious conclusions more often than most of us care to admit. (Good lawyers manipulate the truth all the time to achieve a desired outcome. That’s probably why their clients think they’re “good.”)

Furthermore, the vast majority of people spend their lives believing what other people say without those statements having to be proven in court. It doesn’t have to be proven in court that it’s raining on the east coast (when you’re on the west coast) in order for it to be true. It doesn’t have to be proven in court that the Chargers lost last Thursday’s game (when you didn’t see the game) in order for it to be true. And so on. If truth came only from court findings, our society would be paralyzed.

I am moved by claims that bad stuff has been happening for decades and thus there was no reason to call it out here, but not in the way you might think. To me, bad stuff happening for decades is MORE reason to call it out and put a stop to it. Slavery went on too long, the lack of suffrage for women went on too long, the prohibition against “mixed-race marriages” (an inaccurate term but the term of the day nonetheless) went on too long. People are entitled to say enough’s enough.

From someone who knows too well: occasionally we lose battles as part of the broader war. If the war’s just, we keep fighting toward that end despite the setbacks along the way. We cannot do that, however, when we’re fighting amongst ourselves. (Having a civil discussion, even a critical discussion, is not “fighting” in my view. Attacking people personally or without a factual basis is.)

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avatar bob dorn September 4, 2013 at 7:40 am

Mr. Briggs, I was a journalist a fair amount of my life, and I know — I mean to say, I KNOW! — that you’d better have more trust in the courts than in today’s sources of what is called public information. I think you probably do, too.

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avatar Cory Briggs September 4, 2013 at 7:48 am

Amen, Bob. I simply meant that the courts don’t have a monopoly on the truth.

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avatar Doug Porter September 4, 2013 at 5:17 am

Y’all be nice. (Not directed at anybody in particular, except the angry humans whose comments did not appear)

This too shall pass, and I’d strongly suggest refraining from making remarks that you’ll regret later–on all sides of this issue.

Those willing to hoist the flag of “censorship” should be aware that the Constitution does not include the right for us to provide a platform for those who feel the need to be an asshole towards people who don’t agree with you.

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avatar Cynthia September 4, 2013 at 11:54 am

Good points, Doug!

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avatar Pfaff September 4, 2013 at 7:46 am

Ms. Norma Damaschek,

You are the B-E-S-T Best.

If I wasn’t “computer challenged,” I would rig up a contraption on my iMac so that the moment (your) Part 2. arrives, an alarm would sound which would be audible throughout our house.

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avatar michael-leonard September 6, 2013 at 2:40 pm

All ya hafta do is sign up for the Freep Daily Email, on the home page, just below the fold.

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avatar Brent E. Beltran September 4, 2013 at 8:43 am

Y’all need to get over Filner and move on. That old, lecherous masher is gone. His agenda needs to somehow remain but that flawed, grab asser needed to go. How any progressive woman, or man, can continue to support his actions is beyond me.

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avatar Lorri September 4, 2013 at 9:43 am

I still think it is a sad day when 2 attorneys say Filner got his “due process” . And, before Mr. Briggs says” I didn’t say that” I have it in writing from 2 other attorneys involved in this case that said it. Not Mr. Briggs, who I don’t know. These women were not young. They have been around for a while ,and some are tough as any man. They did not need protection from “evil” Filner. And some of these women’s claims go back years ago Why didn’t they file harassment charges then? The question for me, and I have never met Filner, is “WHY NOW?”. Why, all of the sudden did 16 women come forward and share their stories about Filner. If this wasn’t a coup, by the powerful people in San Diego, I wish someone would explain to me why it wasn’t. It was a public lynching of a man who has been a leader in labor, civil rights, and a lot more. And, adding Alred to the mix, thanks Marco, really cemented it for me. When Alred arrives anywhere, a circus begins.

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avatar rheftmann September 4, 2013 at 11:04 am

None of us know the facts. There is no sworn testimony, no evidence, and no deliberated judgment. An elected leader left office under a cloud. When lawyers use the press and the press uses lawyers, there is no justice. An angry mob is not democracy.

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avatar Sara September 4, 2013 at 11:15 am

It’s kind of like belief in God, or, conversely, belief that there is no divine. Some folks here choose, in the lack of tangible evidence, a belief system wherein Bob is innocent, and his enemies are guilty of lying and elaborate conspiracy. I can’t prove to you God exists any more than I can provide for you some form proof that you would find subjectively or objectively acceptable that there is a very dark, damaging, likely unlawful side to former Mayor Filner.

Unfortunately, preaching a “Bob was set up” conspiracy as if it is God’s honest truth perpetuates an incredibly damaging feature of our culture wherein victims are blamed or disbelieved and their suffering is minimized.

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avatar Sara September 4, 2013 at 11:27 am

(Clarification: not saying you should or shouldn’t believe, the analogy ends at the impossibility of proof or disproof).

I assume whatever information from the City’s internal investigation will at least be made public in part at some point, although there’s no way to know right now. Whatever it is, it was enough to convince Emerald and Cole to strongly reverse their positions…

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avatar Cynthia September 4, 2013 at 11:51 am

Sara:
It is not clear why they reversed their positions. Certainly some talk of recall of them had already occurred by that time.

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avatar Anna Daniels September 4, 2013 at 12:44 pm

Sara- I am troubled that your assessment, based on a reduction to mutually exclusive belief systems, is so a-historical. Have you forgotten that we elected Schwarzenegger twice as governor? He began his campaign in a cloud of long term sexual harassment claims http://tinyurl.com/3mcqf93 and ended his tenure with Gloria Allred at the microphone speaking on behalf of a woman who was part of his household staff and with whom he had an out of wedlock son. This sets a precedent, don’t you think, in what behaviors the public finds tolerable in a politician? I suspect this level of tolerance has little to do with belief systems and a great deal to do with the unimpeded exertion of political power that stands to benefit certain segments of the population.
Political power does benefit certain segments of the population. It doesn’t make it a conspiracy to say that entrenched groups will do everything and sometimes anything to maintain control. Filner posed a real threat to those groups here in San Diego.
A careful reading that draws upon both California and local political history provides different levels of understanding about Filner’s resignation and the seven months leading up to it. That reading reminds us about when we are willing to hold our nose and go along, when we demand purity above all and always, who stands to gain.
What do I believe? I believe I’ll have another drink. What do I think? Ten or twenty years from now, someone will write about the rest of the story. But by then, the story will be just another curiosity about San Diego’s curious political history.

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avatar rheftmann September 4, 2013 at 11:34 am

Wouldn’t you want to be presumed innocent until proven guilty? And won’t that be harder when legal professionals use “news” media to make assertions without proof and then expect a jury to come to a decision without prejudice? Why would an attorney need public opinion if they had a good case? Sara: it’s impossible to prove a negative. Of course there is no evidence to prove he didn’t do something. Filner is not guilty of anything at this time, unless all you need to “believe” is what you hear.

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avatar Sara September 4, 2013 at 11:37 am

Filner is guilty of abusing his elected office by his own admissions.

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avatar Cynthia September 4, 2013 at 11:48 am

Filner has denied that he sexually harassed the plaintiffs. And that is the charge. Accuracy in reporting and choice is important. Accusers are not the same thing as victims until it is demonstrated that they are, indeed, victims.

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avatar Cynthia September 4, 2013 at 11:49 am

Excuse me, I meant ‘word choice’, not simply ‘choice’.

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avatar Frances O'Neill Zimmerman September 4, 2013 at 11:07 pm

Sara, I never alluded to your age, have no idea what it is and don’t care. “Ageism” usually means bias against older people, so I don’t know what you’re talking about when you say, “When all else fails, resort to ageism.” I suppose it’s possible you weren’t directing that particular attack at me, though it followed my comment.

“Slutshaming” is another term from you that I would like to disavow. You are indulging in name-calling here and I object, as a female human being. Ditto for you, Catherine — you also toss that word around without compunction. It is insulting. And thanks for letting me know about the origins of Progressivism: I majored in U.S. History at university.

Finally, I am amazed that finally we hear from lawyer Cory Briggs, who personally participated twice in shaming San Diego’s duly elected Mayor in the public square, without offering a shred of evidence for accusations brought against him. Never mind that many regard this act as extra-legal and wrong. Let’s invoke Sara’s own high-minded words: what “sentient member of an enlightened society with an ounce of compassion” would do something like this?

I am sick to death of this conversation.

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avatar Cory Briggs September 5, 2013 at 5:06 am

Frances:

It sounds as though you heard about the two press conferences but did not actually hear what was said by us during them. I called on the mayor to resign because of his abuse of power in the form of (1) sexual harassment against women and (2) pay-to-play tactics against developers–both of which are illegal and immoral based on this community’s standards. At the first press conference, I explicitly mentioned the Sunroad scandal. As for the sexual harassment, it’s true that no women were named but not true that we provided not even “a shred of evidence”; at the first conference we announced what we believed, and at the second conference we actually gave specifics of three different instances. I, too, regard what Donna, Marco, and I did as extra-legal, but that doesn’t make it wrong. We were appealing to our fellow San Diegans, not to the courts, because calling out bad politicians publicly is one of the many rights we citizens enjoy under the First Amendment, and that right need not be exercised only in court. Citizens are not legally required–and, as I understand the prevailing moral code in this community, not morally required–to go to court to air concerns about a politician who has breached the public’s trust. I am 100% certain on the former, and 99% sure on the latter.

But ask yourself this? If you had WHAT YOU BELIEVED TO BE CREDIBLE EVIDENCE of multiple instances of illegal conduct by a public official, AFTER TRYING TO GET THAT OFFICIAL TO FIX HIS CONDUCT, what would you have done? Are you really telling me that the ONLY thing you would have done would have been to file a lawsuit, that you would NOT have gone public? Maybe the answer for you is “yes,” but even folks who have been displeased with what Donna, Marco, and I did have acknowledged to us that UNDER THOSE CIRCUMSTANCES they probably would have done the same thing.

One final question: Are you at all pissed off at the mayor? How about posting a comment about that? I’m not asking for you to tell me that you’d prefer to wait to hear what a jury decides. I want to know what you think about his conduct.

Thanks.

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avatar Frances O'Neill Zimmerman September 5, 2013 at 12:11 pm

Cory Briggs, you seem to be as defensive, confused and anxious to justify your actions and thought processes as all the rest of the hoi polloi who have weighed in here at the San Diego Free Press over the loss of Mayor Bob Filner after eight months in office. That’s the comfort I take from reading your posts. Down the road, I look forward to forgetting and maybe even forgiving.

For the record, I did indeed listen to both of your news conferences denouncing Mayor Filner and demanding his resignation. I think you did a lot of damage in that exercise. You, Donna Frye and Marco Gonzalez scorched the oh-so-sexually-imperfect political landscape of San Diego for years to come and you also falsely maligned Filner as someone who pays-to-play with the infamous Sunroad.

You invoke here the notion of “what is illegal and immoral based on this community’s standards.” That is astounding to me, given the absence of identifiable evidence of any such “standards” over the 43 years I have lived here. But maybe you and Donna and Marco have established a new bottom line.

And while it’s true that, in your words, “courts are not the only place where justice takes place,” I hope you, as a lawyer, believe as I do that courts are fairer to a defendant than a public lynching fed by local media frenzy and my$teriou$ $imultaneou$ copious$ attention from national press and television.

You three were not just standing up as free citizens with grievances: you were leaking in advance to KPBS and ginning up the media machinery to serve your purpose. You were the parade of elephants before the circus. Your credibility and good reputations served as the platform for all that followed. I would hate to have to live with that. Maybe you are sorry about the unintended consequences. I know I would be, had I been so rash, so calculating, so naive.

You ask me what I think of Mayor Filner’s conduct? You are not paying attention.
In my first post here I said, Bob Filner is “a liberal reformer whose longstanding reckless habits brought down the roof.” Filner sowed the seeds of his own destruction. You exposed/enabled it and got what you wanted. A lot of people, including me, are sick at heart, while many others are happy as clams at high tide.

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avatar bob dorn September 5, 2013 at 1:03 pm

Amen.

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avatar Cynthia September 5, 2013 at 1:08 pm

Frances: Dude! Do you ever, like, run out of energy? I would so hate to try to mug you in a dark alley (not that this is a pastime of mine).

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avatar Frances O'Neill Zimmerman September 5, 2013 at 2:14 pm

(What an image you offer here and btw, women don’t get called “Dude.” How do I know this? Because I live near Windansea.)
The answer is No. But if you did, I would fight back. And then I’d take you to court for doing a crime.

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avatar rheftmann September 5, 2013 at 4:27 pm

Perhaps the emotions of disgust and discouragement over this revolution would be eased and those who must rely on news media could forgive and forget if the disappointment in the few San Diegans who we’ve come to admire when they stood up to sneaky city government and destructive environmental action had not disgraced themselves with personal matters. Why oh why… The mayor’s rude behavior was no surprise, but what happened to Donna Frye? It’s heartbreaking to give up on her.

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avatar La Playa Heritage September 5, 2013 at 11:37 pm

“(2) pay-to-play tactics against developers–both of which are illegal and immoral based on this community’s standards. At the first press conference, I explicitly mentioned the Sunroad scandal.”

Not cool.

The City Council, City Attorney, and Sunroad committed fraud when the gave away the two public park easement for free, bypassing the Real Estate Assets Department (READ).

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avatar Andy Cohen September 6, 2013 at 11:57 am

Cory: I was at the first presser, and I can tell you first hand that you provided not a shred of evidence, merely accusations. Nothing more than heresy and tears from Donna Frye.

As for the Sunroad deal: What is your alternative? Let the City Council simply give away MORE public land just because a wealthy developer asks for it? I personally have zero issues with the way Filner handled that little situation. At least he stood up for the little people–the taxpayers–with that move. Sunroad should never have been allowed to get something for nothing, and the fact that our City Council in its infinite wisdom had the votes to override Filner’s veto tells you all you need to know about why he did what he did. And I don’t believe he broke any laws in doing so, but the feds will ultimately determine that.

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avatar Cory Briggs September 6, 2013 at 12:04 pm

Andy: I wasn’t offering up evidence at the first presser. I was telling people why I asked for Filner to resign.

As for Sunroad, the problem was process not goal. There is a legal process for ensuring that the public doesn’t get screwed. Filner refused to follow it.

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avatar Andy Cohen September 6, 2013 at 1:08 pm

“As for the sexual harassment, it’s true that no women were named but not true that we provided not even “a shred of evidence”.”–Cory Briggs

“at the first conference we announced what we believed, and at the second conference we actually gave specifics of three different instances. “–Cory Briggs

Still nothing more than accusations and innuendo. No actual evidence, just “take our word for it.” Please don’t insult our intelligence and tell us this constitutes actual evidence. It does not.

Back to Sunroad: I’m curious to know what process you would have Filner follow? Taking it to court would take years, and by the time the case was heard Sunroad would likely have already completed construction on the project. Simply delaying it through court proceedings was in no one’s best interests. This way Filner was able to accomplish his goal in protecting the taxpayers, and the developer was allowed to continue construction, thereby avoiding massive cost overruns for which they would have blamed Filner and the city government, providing an outlet to criticize San Diego for being “anti-business.” Win-win for everyone.

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avatar Cory Briggs September 6, 2013 at 2:36 pm

Andy: What we believed is evidence. Maybe it’s not the full account that you’d like, but it’s not nothing. We realized that people wanted to know more, and thus we did the second presser. We have specifics but no names. You might not like the evidence and might even thing it’s insufficient, but it’s still evidence.

On process, the San Diego Municipal Code and state law establish procedures for selling public property. Filner didn’t follow them, despite my telling his staff more than once that there was a lawful procedure for protecting the public and that he wasn’t following it by accepting $100k in exchange for advocating for a veto override. As it stands now, the public has given up property and received nothing in return–all because Filner didn’t follow the law. The pending lawsuit (if successful) will restore the property to the public or obtain fair compensation in accordance with proper procedures. There is no win-win now.

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avatar rheftmann September 5, 2013 at 8:43 am

Cory Briggs: As an officer of the court and attorney for the alleged victims, you did not step in front of news cameras as a merely a “citizen.” You swore to uphold additional responsibilities. If I were a judge, I would say you have already chosen the court of public opinion and no longer can serve your client in a court of law, which has safeguards against (and for) the sort of firestorm those media events touched off. “Pissed off” doesn’t rise to the level of news, much less regime change.

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avatar Lorri September 5, 2013 at 8:57 am

I only saw the first press conference, the one in which Donna told off some reporter. She is not an attorney, and I understand some of her vehemence. However, both Marco and Cory, are attorneys for the clients. I am only a psychologist, but I can assure you the American Psychological Association would have very strong concerns about my ability to practice psychology if I had done what the 2 attorneys did at that first press conference. In fact, I probably would have be called upon by the Board of Psychology to explain why I did it. But, as Mr. Briggs has already explained to us, and I will cut and paste his comments exactly as he stated them:
‘People should not act as if the only place truth exists is in court. Judges and juries reach dubious conclusions more often than most of us care to admit. (Good lawyers manipulate the truth all the time to achieve a desired outcome. That’s probably why their clients think they’re “good.”)” To my feeble psychological brain, that statement scares me. Thanks fort letting us know how your profession views the law, Mr. Briggs.

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avatar bob dorn September 5, 2013 at 10:29 am

Amen.

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avatar Cory Briggs September 5, 2013 at 2:20 pm

Lorri: My parenthetical comment was meant facetiously and sarcastically, not literally.

You can find the California Rules of Professional Conduct (governing lawyers) here: http://rules.calbar.ca.gov/Rules/RulesofProfessionalConduct.aspx.

You can find out how to file a complaint against an attorney, along with the complaint form, here: http://www.calbar.ca.gov/Attorneys/LawyerRegulation.aspx.

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avatar Pfaff September 5, 2013 at 9:03 am

Re Corey Briggs, Esquire

All of you, including myself, are wasting your energy, time and taking a great chance of injuring or wearing out the tips of your fingers responding to Cory Briggs.

You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em. If he obfuscated the truth orally, he will do the same on this San Diego Free Press website.

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avatar bob dorn September 5, 2013 at 10:27 am

Amen.

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avatar Lorri September 5, 2013 at 12:09 pm

Doesn’t the State Bar Association have any ethical code of conduct? I know my profession does. I wonder what they would think of this statement?

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avatar Lorri September 5, 2013 at 12:14 pm

Should have said Mr. Brigg’s statement.

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avatar Cory Briggs September 5, 2013 at 2:21 pm

See my response to you above.

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avatar Lorri September 5, 2013 at 3:22 pm

I appreciate the response Mr. Briggs, although I had already looked it up myself. I have no desire to file a complaint, just merely asking what ethical codes guide attorneys conduct in general. May I suggest, and you obviously can take or leave this suggestion, that as one of the attorneys helping out this case, it might be better to say exactly what you mean, instead of being sarcastic, or otherwise. Unfortunately, one cannot deduce one’s tone of voice on the Internet, unless one is using Skype. I don’t know you, and have no desire to file a complaint again you. I was merely wondering why an attorney, who has been pretty public about your position, would make such a comment about the judicial system. In psychology, we have been told to not share ANYWHERE our clients situations, and that it would be a violation of our ethical code. Perhaps you have signed releases to go public with the press conference with Marco and Donna. Then, at least in my profession, we could do that, but we are encouraged not to. Different professions, different ethical codes, I guess.

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avatar Lorri September 5, 2013 at 3:24 pm

Should have said “discouraged not to” , not encouraged. Sorry for the typo. Maybe it’s the heat.

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avatar Lorri September 5, 2013 at 3:26 pm

Never mind the second of my comments. I must be really tired and this heat is really getting me. So sorry to confuse the issue with my typographical skills and my dyslexia.

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avatar Cory Briggs September 5, 2013 at 9:43 pm

Lorri: No worries, that’s one of the shortcomngs of these comment sections. I put “good ” in quotes hoping folks would see my sarcasm etc. Sorry it wasn’t clear.

FYI: Marco and I had full client consent to disclose what we did when we did it. Disclosing client info is a no-no for lawyers, too, unless the client consents.

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avatar Cory Briggs September 5, 2013 at 9:54 pm

I’m curious: How would people who turn to this media outlet–which, for the record, I respect mucho–respond if they knew that Filner’s office was relying on this outlet as a communications “surrogate” back in July when his own media team was refusing to respond to ANY media inquiries? Would it lead you to question the objectivity of the media? Or would you think it’s good that there’s a media outlet willing to report from a progressive perspective?

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avatar La Playa Heritage September 5, 2013 at 11:46 pm

That would be a great question to ask the former and existing spokesperson for the Office of the Mayor Irene McCormick-Jackson. Or you could ask the Public Information Officer Lea Fields-Bernard directly.

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avatar Doug Porter September 6, 2013 at 7:10 am

The suggestion that SDFP was serving as a surrogate for Filner’s office is simply untrue. We had no contact other than press releases with those folks–like everybody else in town we would have loved a little inside info. Nobody associated with the Mayor’s office has ever given us any feedback, pointed us in any direction or reached out to us in any way.

Our reporting was based on what we perceived to be the truth.

Frankly, I believe it’s time to move on. Filner’s gone. But I will say this: come back and look at what we were saying about the Mayor a year from now and compare it to other press accounts from the same time period. That will be the real test of who was fronting for whom in this town.

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avatar Cynthia September 6, 2013 at 8:14 am

Doug:

Surely you do not mean that Norma will not publish Part 2 of her story?

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avatar Doug Porter September 6, 2013 at 8:27 am

No, Norma WILL publish part two. As soon as she turns it in. (NORMA!!) She just got a little backed up with Jewish New Year festivities. I may not agree with Norma some of the time, but I value her voice and insights ALL of the time.

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avatar norma damashek September 6, 2013 at 10:35 am

Looks like Doug has just summoned me (NORMA!!). In the context of the Jewish high holy days — which start out joyful and conclude nine days later with a solemn day of fasting and repentance — my answer to him is: HINENI… here I am!
In response to Cynthia and others, many people already know that I write a political commentary called NumbersRunner, which gets distributed to a sizable mailing list. The SDFP often publishes my postings, as does the online Patch network.
I’ve been thinking, listening, talking, participating in, analyzing, reacting to, and writing about San Diego politics for a long time. I’m blessed and privileged to be a free and independent citizen who can choose to write a blog that reflects my strong feelings about government’s responsibility to serve the public good.
In other words, Part 2 coming up soon.

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avatar Frances O'Neill Zimmerman September 6, 2013 at 4:57 pm

Norma, actually you promised Part II would be out yesterday, Thursday. You can appreciate why readers thus are waiting with bated breath for the next installment. I certainly want to hear your take on the dramatic appearances of Cory Briggs, Donna Frye and Marco Gonzalez in the public square, as well as any other observations on Summer 2013.
Meanwhile, Happy New Year, opening a season of renewal.

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avatar bob dorn September 6, 2013 at 9:56 am

Briggs, are you saying as a fact that the FREEP was being Filner’s “communications ‘surrogate’ back in July,” or are you just stylin’?
If you were serious, I’ll say that I’d never work in a project with a politician for a boss, journalistic or otherwise, and that I think I know the people here better than you do and they aren’t part of the buy and sell.
I did notice that you put “surrogate” in double quotes, above, as in: Briggs says, “The truth is ‘all I live for’ but I have to make a living.” In a just world that wouldn’t be sarcasm, Briggs; it would be cynicism.

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avatar Cory Briggs September 6, 2013 at 10:58 am

Bob:

I put “surrogate” in quotes because there is a document written by Lee Burdick in July, after Filner was called on to resign, in which she identifies Doug Porter and two others as “surrogates” in the communications category. (I now realize that the quotes were confusing because I used them to be facetious/sarcastic in a different post. My apologies; bad writing on my part.)

I am not saying that Doug agreed to be the surrogate, and I take him at his word. But even if SDFP did not agree to serve as a surrogate, it still raises some interesting (problematic?) questions for people of all political stripes about the trustworthiness of the media (no aspersions intended toward Doug or anyone else with this point).

One thing I noted in Doug’s post above is this comment: “Our reporting was based on what we perceived to be the truth.” I have no doubt that that’s an accurate statement–not only for the SDFP but for the majority of media outlets. So what makes SDFP’s perception of the truth more trustworthy to its readers than someone else’s perception? I get that people might distrust a source when the source’s credibility is in question. But what about when there’s no serious dispute about credibility? Whose perception do you believe, and why?

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avatar Doug Porter September 6, 2013 at 11:06 am

Hilarious. I have never met or talked to Burdick. I don’t even know what Lee Burdick looks like. Really! Now I feel like somebody over in whatever’s left of Filnerland owes me lunch or a cup of coffee or something.

And can I get a copy of this document emailed to me? I’ll publish it.

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avatar Cory Briggs September 6, 2013 at 11:12 am

Certainly, Doug. Send me your e-mail address.

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avatar Frank Gormlie September 6, 2013 at 11:38 am

Cory, you ask, “so what makes SDFP’s perception of the truth more trustworthy to its readers than someone else’s perception?”

Well, let me count the ways ….
1) Look at our track record for starters – and look at our other site, the OB Rag;
2) You’ll find that we are not beholden to any economic interests;
3) Plus you’ll doubtlessly recognize our commitment to highlighting forgotten or misrepresented neighborhoods;
4) We are totally volunteer;
5) We don’t have clients;
6) We work on a consensus basis internally – or at least try to;
7) We are fighting for the little guy and gal, the underdogs of society;
8) We are STANDING ON THE SIDE of the Working People of San Diego;
9) We speak truth to the powerful;
10) We give voice to disparate views – views we don’t see in the monopolized press here in ol’ San Diego;
11) The vast majority of our editors have an activist flavor – and we support activism and issues that stir progressive activism throughout the County;
12) Did I say there are no strings attached, no sugar-daddies to have to please;
13) We have memories and do not exhibit the total lack of such among other media sites in town;
… that’s it for now. In sum, we have a track record that shores up our credibility; sure we make mistakes, but overall the San Diego Free Press is just that, it’s free and it’s a press – we believe strongly in our progressive values, what we see and hear and experience – our perceptions – and we feel committed to being a voice for the neighborhoods and for progressive views. Period.

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avatar Cory Briggs September 6, 2013 at 11:52 am

Frank: I wasn’t questioning your credibility. I believe you’re credible. I asked the question point blank about circumstances when there is NO question about credibility. OBR and SDFP have good/credible journalists, but there are other good/credible journalists in town. I was asking a philosophical question: when credibility’s not the issue, and given that OBR/SDFP are reporting what they perceive to be true, why trust OBR/SDFP more than another media outlet whose reporters are writing about what they perceive to be true? Why trust one over the other (again, when there’s no serious reason to doubt credibility). Reasonable, sincere journalists can reach different conclusions without being biased, right? If so, why trust one over the other? And if there’s no reason to trust one over the other (again, when there’s no serious issue of credibility), what makes OBR/SDFP “right” in its readers’ eyes or in its own journalists’ eyes?

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avatar Lorri September 6, 2013 at 12:08 pm

One word answer Cory: Doug Manchester-well actually that is 2 words!

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avatar Frances O'Neill Zimmerman September 6, 2013 at 5:27 pm

Cory, were you educated by Jesuits?
(No offense, Jesuit readers. You ran my grade school and childhood parish.) I’m not questioning your casuistry. I believe you’re educated. It’s just that deconstructing this post would require people trained to dance on the head of a pin and declare it flamenco, aka Jesuits. Such hooey.

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avatar Frances O'Neill Zimmerman September 6, 2013 at 5:17 pm

Just unbelievable. Cory Briggs is throwing around more unsubstantiated accusations — this time attacking Doug Porter and the fledgling SD Free San Press (as in free of sugar-daddies) and its mother ship OB Rag. I do think I’m getting angry all over again.

Take a hike, Cory. You have lost all standing: your judgment is terrible and your tactics stink. Why you have suddenly materialized here in these columns remains a mystery to me. To justify what you did to Sinner Filner? Or just to change the subject by sliming this liberal journal and its talented, committed outastanding, all-volunteer crew?

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avatar Cory Briggs September 6, 2013 at 5:56 pm

No attacks, Frances. See my response to Anna and others. Also read the doc written by Lee Burdick. Her words, not mine.

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avatar Frances O'Neill Zimmerman September 6, 2013 at 10:12 pm

What are you talking about, Cory?
Where IS “the doc written by Lee Burdick?

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avatar Cory Briggs September 6, 2013 at 11:35 pm

I sent it to Doug earlier today. He said he’d post it.

avatar Andy Cohen September 6, 2013 at 12:23 pm

OK, so I feel an imperative to respond to this ludicrous statement (and yes Cory, I have read your post below): First of all, I can assure you that NO ONE at the SDFP considered themselves a “surrogate” for Mayor Filner or Candidate Filner. As the only member of the SDFP editorial board who had direct contact with Mayor Filner and his staff (other than Annie Lane, who joined me in interviewing then Candidate Filner prior to the June Primary Election, and prior to the official launch of the SDFP), I can tell you that I received no special treatment from the Mayor’s office.

My requests for comment went ignored just like everyone else’s were. And after weeks of trying to get a response from Irene McCormack and Lena’ Lewis on the TMD mess, and pretty much after it had all been resolved, I finally did receive a call back with an offer to set up an interview with Filner over the phone. Again, this took place WEEKS after my initial requests for comment.

To the best of my knowledge Doug had little to no direct contact with the Mayor–and no contact over the phone, since he is only now beginning to recover his voice after cancer treatments. Therefore it would be impossible for him to be a “surrogate” for the Mayor.

My understanding has it that a surrogate is someone who is fed information for dissemination to the public. Who is provided tips and storylines that help the politician in question. I suppose I shouldn’t speak for anyone else, but I was never offered such access or information. There is another local pol’s office who on rare occasions comes to me with ideas for stories or requests for coverage (which I’m okay with, by the way–it doesn’t mean I have to provide said coverage), but never from Filner’s office.

Not that I’m complaining, mind you–I was offered the same access to media events that City Beat and VOSD and UTSD were. But to imply that we were given special treatment by Filner is just plain not true.

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avatar Cory Briggs September 6, 2013 at 3:46 pm

Andy: I never said that SDFP was complicit. Nor do I believe that anyone at SDFP was complicit. I was posing a question about why people trust their media outlet of choice but not others. If people want to be pissed off, be pissed off at the person(s) who presumed that Doug could be manipulated.

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avatar Anna Daniels September 6, 2013 at 5:41 pm

Cory- You just wrote “If people want to be pissed off, be pissed off at the person(s) who presumed that Doug could be manipulated.” It hasn’t escaped my attention that you set off this whole comment string with the innuendo that Doug has acted as a surrogate for the mayor and don’t you dare say that I am putting words in your mouth. Don’t you dare.
I get it- sometimes the best defense is a strong offense. This particular offense tactic, however, is weak in everything but the stench.

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avatar Cory Briggs September 6, 2013 at 5:51 pm

Anna: I apologize for not being clear enough. In no way do I think SDFP agreed to go along with the mayor’s office’s plan or even knew about it. But that office was talking about using SDFP as a “surrogate”; the document doesn’t lie. I was asking a question about trust in the media when people are trying to manipulate it. Nothing else.

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avatar Pfaff September 6, 2013 at 7:38 am

Doug Porter

You have made more sense in three paragraphs with 132 words than the previous 72 blog responses combined. Let’s put it to bed and wait until August 2014.

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avatar rheftmann September 6, 2013 at 8:02 am

Doug Porter: It’s your paper, but it is worrying to hear you say you won’t stay with a story this important. It isn’t like San Diego has a fourth estate which, with your paper being among the few independent and ethical exceptions, isn’t a fifth column.
That’s not withstand Cory Briggs’ shoot-an-arrow-in-the-air accusations, which got us here in the first place. It’s not a good time to unilaterally retreat.

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avatar Doug Porter September 6, 2013 at 8:18 am

It’s not MY paper. I am one of eight members of the editorial board, and I suspect mine is a minority viewpoint, which is why you continue to see these stories posted. SDFP not even a paper for that matter. Furthermore, I’m not interested in retreating. I’m saying that it makes more sense to pursue the agenda rather than ruminate abut the man at this point. All the words in the world published in this and other blogs aren’t going to bring Bob Filner back.

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avatar Pfaff September 6, 2013 at 8:52 am

Doug Porter

I guess the only person permitted to issue “The Last Word” is Lawrence O’Donnell on MSNBC.

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avatar rheftmann September 6, 2013 at 12:29 pm

Thank you for correcting my imprecise use of the possessive and obsolete use the word describing the product of the press.
Yours is among the few voices (Voices?) I trust. (I don’t dare use quotation marks.)
But aren’t you being too modest? News of Bob Filner’s demise is greatly exaggerated (isn’t he still officially the mayor?) so your words don’t have to bring back the dead, just fend off the zombies. Considering the asymmetry of resources, “your” (sometimes I can’t help myself) paper (drat, we liberals as so slow to change) is doing miraculously well at informing the public.

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avatar michael-leonard September 6, 2013 at 2:59 pm

I’ve been away for a week and just read 79 comments, so I would like to make several responses here:
Norma: Harkening to your website, you mention that you are just a ‘close watcher’. Observing and reporting IS journalism. The type of post mortem you are writing IS necessary to counter the one-sided drumbeat that came from the SDMSM (local “mainstream media’). Particularly, I hope you will ‘observe’ that two of the main drum-beaters are — as Bob Dorn notes — funded by Irvin Jacobs. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

Cory: I’ve met you and respect your liberal stance. I agree that ‘due process’ refers solely to legal process and the media process is not covered under those legalities. I also think that, whatever political hay was made of Smiling Bob’s failings, they were his and his alone and, hindsight always being perfect, Filner probably should have not been allowed to run.
But you must NOT write something like “Good lawyers manipulate the truth all the time to achieve a desired outcome” that most folks think is true, and then refute it as just kidding. And you ought NOT resort to accusatory innuendo masquerading as questions. It is unfair and beneath you.
And yes, you WERE questioning the SDFP’s credibility when you suggested they are a communications tool of the Mayor’s Office. And then you directly denied it; want us to believe you are just posing a question of legal philosophy. Come on, sir.

Sara: Don’t you think that rejecting someone’s ‘credentials’ as your opening is a bit harsh? And then implying ageism. Oh, perhaps the former caused the latter?
Just because someone sees and examines the process by which this episode took place doesn’t mean s/he is also saying that those women lied. It’s not that anyone thinks Smiling Bob was innocent. Donna Frye believed the incidents actually happened and I do, too. But, perhaps (some of) the women exaggerated the harm done? I mean, if you say that Filner’s finger on your cheek gave you PTSD a million vets are gonna laugh at you.

Judith: “how does anyone know the age of anyone else on this site?” Because Frank Gormlie is obviously an old fart J.

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avatar Frank Gormlie September 7, 2013 at 2:12 pm

Hey M-L; I resemble that remark.

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avatar Randy Dotinga September 6, 2013 at 4:27 pm

M-L,

Sara wrote this: “I reject the progressive credentials of any person who minimizes victimization of women.”

You seem to think she was too harsh. What’s that mean? That you disagree with that statement?

-Randy

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avatar Judith Wesling September 6, 2013 at 9:45 pm

No one minimizes the victimization of women. That’s why the harassment laws were devised. Some of us “progressives” felt that some of it was exaggerated and fomented a crowd hysteria that the press joined in and happily exacerbated. I suppose it sold newspapers, and perhaps those at KPBS thought it was advancing their careers. I would think a Rear Admiral would be able to handle unwanted advances. Some of the language was imprecise and inflammatory. And I listen to all points of view and do not consider the age of the writer – even if I knew it which I don’t. Again, language like old fart is not necessary.

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avatar John P. Falchi September 10, 2013 at 9:46 am

First, I would like to compliment Doug Porter and the other members of the San Diego Free Press Executive Board for bringing into being this fine means of journalistic expression. The few voices like that which we have had in this town, like KLSD-AM, have been shut down.
We all have biases in our makeup, and your bias seems, decidedly, to the left. Nevertheless, you have provided a unique forum, here, to discuss both sides of the question of what has been taking place in this town in recent months related to the actions of Mayor Bob Filner toward a number of members of the opposite sex, as well as his actions toward San Diego’s powers that be.
I don’t believe that too many of the participants’ opinions have been changed through this very full discussion, but I do believe that it has been healthy for each side to have heard the other out, as this may have it least shown where those we have disagreed with are coming from. For, though people like Cory and Sarah were clearly outnumbered here, they, at least were given a chance for a full presentation of their views.
You do not see that often in many parts of this town. The tendency is to preach to the choir when we gather. Furthermore, the mainstream media simply does not find the time , nor the space, to provide this full and balanced a presentation. For example, the only article that I found in the Voice of San Diego examining Bob Filner’s Agenda was one by Mr. Buxtamisa and that one came kind of late in the whole matter.
Therefore, as a reader of your SDFP publication, I appreciate what you have done by introducing this examination of San Diego’s recent political history. I hope that you continue this particular series on Mayor Filner’s rise and fall, and I look forward to reading much more of this good fare in future.

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avatar rheftmann September 10, 2013 at 12:20 pm

The game’s not over, but Surrogate Sarah and Quotation Cory should be awarded for bravery against overwhelming odds with a cluster for blatantly candid disclosure. As one of the odds, I learned more from them than my odd-fellows. Commendations to the marginal media and all participants for meritorious service to the truth wherever it lies.

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avatar rheftmann September 10, 2013 at 12:26 pm

Sorry to have omitted from the above honor roll of raiders from the right, Randy Randy, still writing, to quote him out of context, “at the intersection of sex and technology.”

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avatar Sara September 10, 2013 at 12:36 pm

The Rules:

1) It’s okay for men we otherwise like to do whatever they want to women’s bodies, and to use political power in any way which advances their desires in this regard.

2) Anyone who argues against this accepted “boys will be boys” system will be subjected to ridicule by women who think they’ve been through worse, thus allowing them grandstanding moral superiority free of any pesky constraints of civil dialogue.

3) Any opinions expressed by a female must clearly have been directed by a male superior (women can only be puppet surrogates! They’re incapable of strong feeling or articulation on their own, (unless they agree with us)).

Aside, thanks, Mr. Falchi.

I don’t want to see the now-shaky credibility of SDFP tanked by a handful of overzealous bullies who are unwilling to set aside sanctimonious attacks to instead collaboratively build a successful, mutual vision for a progressive San Diego. It seems they’re too filled with spite, vitriol, and blame to be productive in the near term. All the piss and vinegar of Filner but without the political power to get anything accomplished.

When the cool fall election season comes around, I hope their righteousness keeps them warm at night.

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avatar Randy Dotinga September 10, 2013 at 12:37 pm

I actually never wrote those words. So you’re quoting me out of any and all context.

A Reader commenter pulled them from a Wired.com blog post that someone else — Regina Lynn — actually wrote. However, she and I certainly did write for a Wired.com blog about sexuality and technology. (Wired.com, at that time, was an online news organization associated with Wired Magazine.)

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