Did Bob Filner jump? did he fall? was he pushed?
By Norma Damashek / NumbersRunner
Forget you, Nancy Drew. You’re being replaced by Perry Mason, super-sleuth defense attorney from the zero hour this guy would laboriously rise up in the middle of the courtroom and pull a rabbit out of a hat. First he’d say something enigmatic to the judge, then to the jury. Soon he’d turn to the seated onlookers and dramatically finger the real culprit… swindler… murderer… for a histrionic wrap-up to another solved case.
The case against Bob Filner, however, doesn’t lend itself to cheap theatrics. The complexity and political fallout of Bob Filner’s ouster bring his political demise closer to classic tragedy than pulp fiction — not merely for him personally but for the future of our city.
So let’s stick with the diligent approach of Ms Drew to arrive at some answers to this mayoral mystery: did Bob Filner jump? fall? or get pushed? and when the curtains are drawn back will we find a master manipulator slinking around in the shadows?
A quick recap: The overblown Bob Filner pseudo-sex-saga (are you married… I’d like to kiss you… come to dinner with me) elicited an outpouring of righteous indignation from all corners of the city — from Democrats and Republicans, males and females, reporters and readers, heavyweight professionals and the up-and-coming.
And a bevy of hometown political strivers got into the act — the Jan Goldsmiths, Kevin Faulconers, Todd Glorias, Sheriff Gores, Nathan Fletchers, Carl DeMaios – decrying the former-mayor’s “disrespect” for women and shedding crocodile tears for the rainbow of plaintiffs who were hand-delivered on schedule to local reporters, TV anchors, and the national media to bare their mortification and shame to the viewing public.
After hounding the mayor out of office our Republican city council members and Democratic council president glommed onto a megaphone provided by the local news media to broadcast their litany of coded slogans: Heal our city! End the civic nightmare! Get San Diego back on track!
Translated that means: Turn the clock back to the Jerry Sanders era of business-as usual! Purge all traces of Bob Filner’s political, economic, environmental, and social agenda from the political record! And from public memory!
On the surface, ex-mayor Filner’s agenda seemed benign. He promised voters he would: 1) bring new faces to the table; and 2) use the tools of government to benefit the public at large, not just the financial interests of the private sector. Yet the evidence is clear that from the day he stepped into his 11th floor office, efforts were underway outside and inside City Hall to abort his term as mayor… to get rid of him ASAP.
Within a week the City Council President (a fellow Democrat) began undercutting the mayor’s agenda. Within a two weeks the City Attorney began commenting publicly about the mayor’s temper and other “behavior issues,” an approach he recently acknowledged was part of an overall “strategy.” Within a month Filner was being caricatured in the U-T and on-line press as the outsider… the other. By the summer he was being painted by nationwide commentators as the pervert. Through concerted efforts he was methodically quartered and drawn…demonized. It was an ugly process.
What made Bob Filner so intolerable to the city’s traditional power brokers and political rivals to justify a crusade so wildly disproportionate to the low-level harassment accusations leveled against him? His behavior toward women was foolish and puerile but the threats he posed to the San Diego wolfpack must have loomed large… he-man sized.
It’s still too early for definitive identification of all the faces behind the ouster of Bob Filner (the upcoming mayor’s race and ensuing battles for control will fill in many of the blanks) but we’ve got plenty of clues to start us off.
So here’s the plan: all suspects in what has been labeled a political coup will be herded into one big room and sorted out. Players from outside the mayor’s office will be directed to the left side. Players from inside the mayor’s office will keep to the right. A path down the middle will be kept clear for surreptitious comings and goings by people straddling the fence.
Here’s who gets sent to the left:
* Everyone who supported Carl DeMaio for mayor in the Nov. 2012 runoff election. Foremost in this group would be U-T San Diego’s Doug Manchester and John Lynch.
* Those who reluctantly supported Bob Filner as the lesser of two evils in the Filner v. DeMaio runoff but whose hearts would always belong to Nathan Fletcher. You’ll find Lorena Gonzalez (former chief of the San Diego Labor Council and now CA Assembly member) topping the list of people who could barely wait to throw Filner out of office and replace him with their one true love.
* The Port of San Diego, a heavy hitter with multifarious interests and clients clustered under its wide umbrella. While Filner had big plans for the Port he was critical of Port priorities and policies, sparring early on with downtown boosters Kevin Faulconer and Todd Gloria over Port Commission appointments.
* Doug Manchester redux – with an inevitable clash over who owned the rights to Neptune’s crown, i.e., control of lucrative development along the waterfront. Add to that the vagaries of the Navy/Broadway Complex. Factor in Filner’s concern over studies showing active fault lines along the bay, specifically beneath Manchester’s dream location for a waterfront sports stadium/arena (on stilts) at the 10th Avenue marine terminal.
* Then there’s the entitled Port Tenants Association, representing hotels, restaurants, marinas, commercial and sport fishing operations on the waterfront, with one of Filner’s aggrieved accusers at the helm.
* There was also the touchy subject of the Port’s financial and managerial deficits, plus underlying talk of a remedial re-merger of the Port and Airport Authority — issues that Filner was ready to address with critical eyes. Does it seem coincidental that a disproportionate number of women accusing Filner of harassment were tied to the Port District?
* San Diego’s hotel and tourism industry. Filner came to blows with this group when he challenged their funding mechanism for a Convention Center expansion. You might have noticed that a majority of harassment accusers had close working relationships with San Diego’s tourism industry. To give you an example, look at the business credentials of Joyce Gattas (one of a quartet of Filner “victims” a seen on TV seated alongside the Port Tenants’ president, a Navy rear-admiral, and a tourism businesswoman): she oversees the SDSU Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management; serves on the Port Authority Marketing and Public relations Advisory committee; served as past chair of the Convis Board of Directors; on the Chamber of Commerce education and workforce committee; and on the KPBS advisory board.
* The Downtown kingdom. Here you’ll find the Chamber of Commerce, with former-mayor Jerry Sanders in the catseat. And the Downtown Partnership run by Kris Michell, chief of staff to former-mayor Sanders and cheerleader for a downtown sports entertainment complex extolled by Mark Fabiani as a moneysaving two-fer — a new Chargers stadium and an expanded Convention Center rolled into one, cheek by jowl with Petco Park. (Want to know another idea promoted by the head of the Downtown Partnership to make our downtown a happening place? create “nontraditional educational opportunities” where, for example, SDSU students would be taught the beer brewing business… a clue to the mentality of the downtown elite who drove out Bob Filner and his vision for San Diego’s future.)
By now the room is hot and overcapacity. But there are many more suspects still in line.
* Like the Republican Lincoln Club and its wolfpack members who led the charge to throw the mayor out
* Like powerful individuals settling a score (Irwin Jacobs, perhaps?)
* Like other financially influential individuals (Christine Forester, perhaps?) who could pick up a phone and get Democratic politicos in DC to call for Filner’s resignation
* Like the building trades unions, which support big development no matter how high the public cost. They know Filner couldn’t be counted on to go along
* Like the San Diego City Attorney, willingly overstepping legal boundaries into conflict-of-interest territory and eagerly piling on trumped-up lawsuits against the former mayor
* Like the U.S. attorney, who fiercely opposed Filner’s medical marijuana stance
* Like our county Sheriff, setting up an ethically-dubious hotline soliciting women to press charges against the mayor
* Like our interlocking news providers (KPBS, ABC-10 news, NBC-7 news) fed by a single “investigative” news source out of the SDSU School of Journalism, able to frame and create a uniform damning portrayal of the mayor
* Like numerous other players who joined the old crowd to call for reversion to the good old days when the San Diego wolfpack called all the shots. With a crowd like this calling for the kill, Bob Filner never stood a chance.
Okay now, we’re finally closing in on some answers: Did Bob Filner simply trip and fall? No. Was he pushed? Yes. But there’s a mysterious twist to this tale — Bob Filner also jumped.
In Part III of The Birds, the Bees, and the Wolf Pack we’ll wrap up this tale with a look at what happened inside the mayor’s office and how it contributed to Bob Filner’s abbreviated tenure as mayor of San Diego.
Here’s a link to Part One, A Story About Sex…More or Less.