Part II: The Birds, the Bees, and the Wolf Pack

Did Bob Filner jump? did he fall? was he pushed?  

drew 2By 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 cityEnd 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.

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.


  1. avatarAnna Daniels says

    Jay Powell’s post today about challenges and opportunities facing our next mayor should be a companion read. Many of the challenges he lists are also reflected in Norma’s analysis of the wolf pack members.

  2. avatarJudith Wesling says

    Unbelievable. I have it on good authority that last night the commentators on Monday Night Football Chargers game were pushing for a new stadium in San DIego. They indicated that if we had a new stadium the SuperBowl would come here every five years. AND, if the stadium had a new design with a retractable roof, it could be an extension of our Convention Center. A Two-fer! Downtown! Win-win for Doug Manchester (my supposition.) The Big Business juggernaut, rolling towards us. Can we stop it with a slingshot?

  3. avatarDana Levy says

    Your article was great except the bashing of the building trades unions. Where did that come from? The union only supports and promotes well trained craftpersons for any and all construction projects. It is up to the city and citizens to propose and allow any such construction, however big or small. Yes, larger projects do fall more likely to the organized trades but without the unions representing the skilled labor force there would be a big race to the bottom in both wages, benefits, and a skillfully crafted finished product. Does your inclusion of the building trades unions seek to suggest that the unions should NOT be an advocate for its members and their welfare? Shall we return to the 1900’s where it was every man for himself and a communal begging process to keep ones family housed and fed? Please rethink your mindset and be aware of the fact that the building trades unions are a conglomeration of well educated, well trained, and socially conscious men and women construction workers and that the unions are advocates for a strong, dedicated movement for progress and one of the strongest dedicated bastions of social justice in America today, regardless of the projects to which they might be working on.

  4. avatarCynthia says


    Excellent defense of the union, which is true and which I fully support. However, the question remains unanswered about whether these unions deserted Bob Filner. Certainly, after so many years in the midst of a capitalist society, the unions must see that the total amount of constant work in a generally prosperous country is better than one big project that temporarily employs a bunch of people while impoverishing others, and then leaves these workers with nothing. When they have the power, the big developers do whatever they can to sever mandated union workers from such projects, under the guise of fairness.

    • avatarCynthia says

      Further, I remember only too well how the unions deserted the Democratic Party in 1980, voting for Ronald Reagan, who proceeded to screw them royally. In that, they were no different than many others (not I), but one would have hoped for a more realistic and historic perspective from them, such as the one you have so well outlined. Thus, we know it can happen, and we know the building trades are courted by the builders. People, unionized or not, can be very short-sighted.

      • avatarCynthia says

        Dana: finally, remember this a a mystery…it may have been the butler! So far all the author has done is line up the suspects:)

    • avatarDana Levy says

      I, for one, have never given up on Bob or his positions and the building trades local union to which I belong has never either, along with the other 21 affiliated locals of the building trades. Bob has been a staunch supporter of the middle class for all his years in any elected office, including the most recent. We never supported the allegations (and don’t condone any of the alleged actions to which has was accused) and although we don’t think Bob was an angel, we fully supported him with walks, signs, money,and votes. It is a fact that most of the accusers were from a time that he was NOT the mayor or city employee and those issues should not be jumbled in with any that are pending. We don’t know where either of the Gonzalez’s (her and her brother, more or less Frye) came from as to their recent despising of Bob and we never disparaged or piled on as others have including the current leading candidates for his office (not withstanding all the current councilmembers and lots of other office holding and seeking people). We were staunch advocates for due process and wanted to see it play out to a conclusion that would leave Bob in office and continuing the work he had so diligently put forth into action. The real money and power people of our fair city, hurt by not being the welcome guests anymore at the table, couldn’t stand it any longer and jumped at the chance to sensationalize the whole matter as showcased in the UT and all the network outlets, thus creating the foul atmosphere that prevails to this day. Please don’t lump the Building Trades into the same mold as the Labor Council. They have nothing in common with the building trades except a supposed inherent desire to see social justice prevail. Please contact Tom Lemmon at the building trades and you will see a complete different outlook on Bob and his passion for our city than that espoused by the labor council, or Alvarez/Gloria et. al. in particular, which gives all progressive thinking people in San Diego more reason to band together and be sure to continue to promote Bob’s plans for the future.

        • avatarLorri says

          Union have always been my friend, for as long as I can remember. I was very sad when Lorena Gonzales didn’t endorse the union’s candidate for the new mayor. Instead she went the safe route and put her money on nathan Fletcher. I am fortunate to know Peter Yarrow, some of you older people might remember Peter, Paul and Mary. They have several amazing union songs that reflect their beliefs that unions are there for the everyday common folk. In one of these songs it says “If you’ve been to jail for justice, then you’re a friend of mine.” They were not only speaking of unions, but a lot of other things. Their most amazing song, for those interested in music is a little known song entitled; “The Great Mandela”. Yes, I know this is not a music site, but music is a big part of everyones history.

      • avatar says

        Dana – I won’t speak for my sister, but I can tell you where I “came from” as to my “despising of Bob.” It’s quite straightforward — I talked to numerous women who had been harassed to varying degrees by Bob. I spoke with Bob to get his response. He did not deny the behavior, but failed to appreciate how he was making women feel. He was given the opportunity to seek help, but did not take seriously the prospect that this issue would be made public and become his downfall. And then I found out more, and more , and more…to the point where it became clear Bob’s problems were significantly worse than any of us had imagined. I felt a moral duty to stand up for these women, plain and simple. In your comment, you state “We were staunch advocates for due process and wanted to see it play out to a conclusion that would leave Bob in office and continuing the work he had so diligently put forth into action.” I believe you miss a critical point. Due process does not presuppose the outcome. As an advocate for Bob staying in office no matter what, your position was not to let the evidence speak for itself, it was to explain it away like so many commenters. Bob got his due, in my opinion.

        • avatarDana Levy says

          Nothing like a “moral duty ” to rationalize doing a really dirty deed and especially on TV with your sister and Donna Frye, both of whom have an agenda just like you, to see “justice done no matter what the cost. Self appointed judge and jury! What would have been moral would have been to encourage Bob to get some professional help or speak to those that he trusted and get them to set it up. The bushwacking was way over the top and I am sure you are still reaping benefits from your grandstand play. And then what evidence are you referring to? How does one explain away mere allegations without a fair and open discovery and vetting of all involved. Then lastly, “he got his due” shows what a lousy opinion you can create except when it is YOU who is the recipient. I don’t shed a tear for you, any of the so called accusers, or all the pilers-on that couldn’t resist “doing the right thing” and shooting their respective mouths off as a group. Sort of reminds me of the Salem Witch Trials where reason goes right out the window and hysteria reigns supreme. Righteousness is never a foundation for justice, only tyranny. And, self-righteousness is the worst character fault of all. We all are way worse off now and will be for quite some time. Can’t wait to see how you rationalize Faulconer as the champion of justice and decorum as we slide down into the rabbit hole once again, just where the Robber Barons want us to be.

          • avatarRandy Dotinga says

            Serious questions for you, Dana:

            How many people who have accused Filner of misbehavior (publicly or privately) do you know personally?

            If there are any, are they your friends? Are they loved ones? Do you consider them reliable and credible people?

            I’ve described my own situation on this site and elsewhere. I have three friends who say they’ve suffered abuse and/or harassment at the hands of Filner. I knew about two of their situations months before the scandal arose. I’ve known about the other case for some 15 years.

            Meanwhile, another person, whom I’ve known for 20+ years, recently told me of his daughter’s recent harassment by Filner.

            Do I have enough information to convict Filner of anything in court? Nope. Do I think what I know is enough to boot him out of office? Actually, I believe his own statements, admitting mistreatment and intimidation of women, are enough. No one who admits that kind of behavior deserves to be in public office. They can fix themselves on their own time and their own dime.

            Why am I saying all this? I’m a freelance contributor to VOSD, which encourages its journalists to be open about their perspectives. So this is mine.


            • avatarDana Levy says

              Randy, let me stop and say that hearsay is as useless as spit on a fishing lure. Knowing someone personally doesn’t cut any slack in my book either. Voracity only proves out when tested legally in court in these matters. Talk is ALWAYS cheap and third or fourth hand is useless except for salacious gossip which is what started and fueled this controversy in the first place. try again not to be self righteous in defending your”friends” as you are NOT a so called victim. What were all these “victims” waiting for as to not raising the proverbial flag when the so called “harassment” occurred? And “way back when” is just another cheap shot that can’t be relied upon anywhere. Yes, Bob is somewhat uncouth and socially inept and by his not being a Brad Pitt look alike probably he has had “dating”issues for the last 60 years. Who among us is super cool and suave and has no personal issues that come to the surface under pressure? Being insecure happens to all of us and being a public figure just amplifies all the inadequacies a hundred fold. Do I condone bullying at all or the hazing of women in particular, NO. Could and should all of this been handled differently, YES. Goldsmith isn’t innocent in any of this either and M. G. says he suggested getting some help to Bob. But if Bob’s actions warranted such a course there should have been a much better way of getting him to the alter besides public humiliation. My perspective is that he was run out on a rail and justice, or even human kindness, be damned.

              • avatarRandy Dotinga says

                You didn’t answer my questions about whether you know anyone who claimed to have been mistreated by Filner.

                My point is a simple one: I know people who say they’ve been humiliated by Filner. Three are my friends, all people I care deeply about. (I’ve known two for 20+ years each.) The father is not my friend, but I’ve known him professionally for 20+ years.

                They color my perspective. I don’t expect them to color yours.

                Their experiences didn’t convince me that Filner had to go. His own words did that.

                His confession of mistreatment and intimidation of women did not convince you.

                • avatarDana Levy says

                  I, for the life of me, can’t understand your insistence on knowing or not someone personally in that could make any difference. Thus the no statement on my part. I have known people to whom injustices have been perpetrated and they always sought further redress if they deemed it serious enough. We do have laws that deal with these matters and just “knowing” somebody doesn’t lend any credence or validity. I can understand your personal feelings in empathizing with your acquaintances but you knowing somebody who relates a story doesn’t bear fruit. And, what else could Bob say when confronted? I think he stood up and answered forthrightly. He admitted mistakes and shortcomings and did the right thing in seeking help, whether finally or at all, it was productive. He shouldn’t and didn’t have to go. He needed a new start and a chance to do it better. Now we will never know what could have been and your judgment is tarnished and conceited, even if you now feel vindicated. Who among us shall cast the first stone?

                • avatarRandy Dotinga says

                  You keep downgrading my friends. They are loved ones of mine. They are not “acquaintances.” That’s why I remain deeply disturbed by their stories.

                  One has discussed his situation publicly. The others have not for very good reasons.

                  I suspect many of those who defend Filner did not know his accusers. Or if they did, they don’t consider them credible.

                  Knowing them and considering them credible makes a difference.

                  Is there a Filner supporter out there who: 1. Knows someone who accuses him of wrongdoing 2. Considers the allegation credible and 3. Considers the allegation to be an example of seriously inappropriate behavior?

            • avatar says

              How about news gathering, Randy, as opposed to opinionating in the news columns, as VOSD regularly did against Filner during the campaign and after he was elected? Your journal thoroughly discredited itself as a reliable source of anything but snark and misinformation, in spite of all the “fact-checks” from the day that your buddy Liam Dillon was assigned to cover Bob Filner, candidate for Mayor. Is this what it means to “encourage journalists to be open about their perspectives?” Your journal is under the heel of Irwin Jacobs who is propping you guys up and supporting the candidacy of a charlatan, aka Nouveau Democrat Nathan Fletcher. Why don’t you just do your freelance contributing and stay out of this desastre — even if you do know somebody who knows somebody
              who saw something on twitter.

          • avatar says

            Dana – for the record. I met with Bob and did in fact encourage him to get professional help. He said he would, then didn’t. Only after our call for resignation did he realize that we were serious and issue his first public apology. By then, it was too late, and so many more women came forward that it was clear to most Bob’s sickness was beyond that which an acting mayor could rehabilitate while serving. As as I quoted at the first press conference, I very much believe in Dante’s perspective that (more or less) “the hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in times of great moral crisis maintain their neutrality.” I considered Bob’s behavior to be at a level of great moral crisis. I had supported Bob during his campaign, both financially and with consultation on environmental policy. I was devastated to learn how he was treating women. I tried to address it privately, but it didn’t work. I just couldn’t do nothing at that point, and in retrospect, I 100% believe we will be better off in the long term. I also refuse to give up on the notion that we will have a strong Dem in office when this special election is over.

            • avatarDana Levy says

              I am neither dissuaded or persuaded from not believing that you didn’t love every minute of it. Glad you had the wherewithal to get Bob to do the right thing and finally seek help by publicly embarrassing him, and all his followers, not to mention the entire city! Sorry you were so devastated in your hearing of the gross mistreatment of the “women”! Sort of sounds like Romney’s reference about the “book of women”. I don’t see a “strong democrat” in the race and I do see that it probably won’t be in the short term that we again see someone with the vision and determination to change the status quo in our fair city. You will have a legacy to bear and it won’t be pretty. Mark my words, you are not absolved of guilt, whether directly or by association, by your current mea culpas. Once Pandora’s box was opened, it can’t be closed again. And to quote another common phrase, “crossing the rubicon” is not always the best direction to follow, and the consequences can be most severe.

              • avatar says

                Uh, ok.

                What on earth would possess you to think I “loved every minute of it”? Do you think I spent my hard earned money on Bob’s campaign just so I could call him out a few months later? Do you think I wanted to risk a less environmentally sensitive mayor and possibly jeopardize all of my existing work? Do you think it was easy to go public with details, but at the time, no women willing to put up with the slut shaming you and other so-called progressives heaped on them? Seriously, I’m blown away by people like you. You cannot with a straight face admit that you would be as strong an advocate for “due process” if we were talking about a Jerry Sanders or Carl Demaio having conducted themselves the way Bob did. Not a chance.

                You lament me publicly embarrassing Bob and the City. Sorry, that wasn’t me that did those things — IT WAS BOB. I’m pretty confident that if the Republicans could have made a case against Bob (which was only a matter of time), the likelihood of electing a Dem successor would have been much less. I also believe that when the history books are written about this subject, Bob will be a considered a creep who let us all down, and I will likely not even be a blip on the radar screen.

                • avatarbob dorn says

                  I have to say, Gonzalez, when you unleash your private feelings in public you can’t also argue the law. These arguments you and Briggs make about justice lying outside the law, and that people are capable of banding together and ensuring that justice is done in the street, depend solely on those law school and bar certificates you both wear on your sleeves for their credibility. No lawyer I’d hire would say this bullshit.
                  You ask people if they know anyone who’s been abused by Filner, then tell them to shut up. So, that makes you both judge and advocate.
                  You predict that the person defending Filner and due process would never accept a court’s adjudication of a DeMaio or Jerry Sanders caught in a similar scandal. Instead… you accuse them of a hypocrisy you’re displaying.
                  I’ve never had to hire a lawyer, but I can tell you I’d be afraid to have you represent me. I think you’re likely to show up at the wrong bar

                • avatarLorri says

                  The problem here is Marco, you are not telling the while story. Take it to a courtroom. What are you afraid of? I have heard you are a very persuasive attorney, at least in Encinitas. I will say more about that another time. I am sure you are not afraid of the courtroom, so let’s go.

                • avatarAshley Gonzalez says

                  1. Marco Gonzalez’ s contribution to Bob Filner’s mayor campaign was $100 according to published campaign documents. So the hard earned money rhetoric is misleading at best – that’s about a typical attorny’s 15-30 minute billable hour. Now Lorena, she put some serious money into Filner’s campaign. File this under MISLEADING (but Cory Briggs told us attorneys manipulate the truth)

                  2. ‘no women willing to put up with the slut shaming you and other so-called progressives heaped on them?’ um, slutshaming isn’t when you’re politically motivated. It’s when the dude gets to be the badass while the chick is the slut. That’s not what anyone on this site has accused the women of. Stop with the misuse of slutshaming as those of us who survived childhood molestation find your politically expedient misuse of the term insulting. No one on this site has “slutshamed.”

                  3. When history books are written, the Gonzalez siblings’ naked ambitions will be well documented and reported to fall in line Bob Filner’s personal failings. You contributed to the history in this blog. You have kids, right? Better think up how you’ll address this when they’ve grown and start to question you and tía Lorena’s motives. But then cool beans, you’ll be in their history books!

            • avatar says

              Oh my god, now we’re quoting Dante. Are you a lawyer or Mr. Fixit, Marco?
              I’m sure you do think we’ll be 100% better off in the long term, thanks to your profoundly misguided unprofessional double-whammy EXTRA-LEGAL actions denouncing the Mayor with your friends in the public square. Since we’re invoking the classics, did you ever hear of blinding hubris? A “great moral crisis?” I am speechless. I am embarrassed for you.

        • avatar says

          I think it’s interesting that:
          1.) Norma does not address the perfidy of Donna Frye, Marco Gonzalez and Cory Briggs who were the first offenders in unjustly pillorying Mayor Filner, twice, in the public square without one shred of evidence or legal due process. Maybe that’s coming in Part III. Or maybe Norma prefers to let them speak for themselves without having to go there herself.
          2) It is notable that Cory Briggs and now , lo, Marco Gonzalez have made appearances in this journal to try to defend their politically indefensible actions that brought down Bob Filner.
          3) Last weekend Cory Briggs unsuccessfully tried to change the subject by falsely claiming that SDFP editor Doug Porter was a handmaid to Filner, calling him a “surrogate.” Briggs backed off when Porter demanded the document on which Briggs based that spurious claim and which Porter then published, as he had promised to do. No surprise: no there there.
          4) Briggs’ full-scale attempt at personal rehabilitation now includes where today he actually warned “progressives” — with whom he claims fellowship — not to “sell out” to some lesser vision for the city.
          5) Briggs has one-sidedly sharply criticized qualified and credible Democratic mayoral candidate David Alvarez — which makes me wonder if Briggs is actually preferring Irwin Jacobs’ boy, Nathan Fletcher. Marco’s sister, Lorena Gonzalez,
          likes Nathan too.

          Let’s just say that things are not so tidily summarized as they seem — that there were many Filner critics who contributed to this fiasco and they have not all been revealed by a long shot.

  5. avatarLaura E. says

    When you look at everyone who was against Filner, I don’t see how he would ever have finished out his term–even if there hadn’t been any allegations of harassment, the powers-that-be would have found (or made up) something. He never had a fair chance.

  6. avatarSara says

    It’s important to review what you know of relevant players, because most of them aren’t going away anytime soon. Thank you for articulating some of these to the extent you are able. We’ve become comfortable with terms like “downtown business interests” and “political insiders,” but defining the “who” and “why” can be instructive to moving forward intelligently. They were around before Filner, and they’ll be around going forward.

    Thank you, Norma, for not marginalizing pieces of the puzzle like this ( in this second installment.

    As you look back over the past weeks and months: please continue to consider the impact on former ardent-Bob-supporters when they received first- and reliable second-hand information (Such as privileged information available to Councilmembers Emerald and Cole) and how this impacted their decision making.

    • avatarLorri says

      Sara: When you speak of “privilege information” that usually implies legal issues, at least in psychology. Are you saying that the City Council members were given all of the legal information that both CLG and Briggs had? Just curious. Thanks.

    • avatarSteven Fisher says

      At the end of the day, Sara, the voting public that elected Filner mayor didn’t receive reliable first or second hand information, thus for me, the impact on former ardent Bob Filner supporters is irreverent (I’m assuming you mean Marco Gonzalez). He falls under established “political insider,” and in an open process, the public would have been presented with credible facts instead of a media rollout of various politically motivated women allied with special interest groups complaining of one off incidents that failed to meet the legal standard of Sexual Harassment creating a Hostile Work Environment.

      Marco Gonzalez didn’t present credible or reliable information to the public (though he did introduce us to the intern). Neither did the instances called out in the filed paperwork presented to the public:

      Legal experts I’ve spoken with say Irene McCormack didn’t have a winnable case. Why did your employer Marco Gonzalez punt to Gloria Allred and let his sister build the case for Fletcher as mayor? Is he not an insider?

      We understand terms like “downtown business interests” and “political insiders” based on decades of living in San Diego. We don’t need you to educate us. The people of San Diego deserved a transparent process to make informed decisions. Instead we got the media circus your employer launched.

    • avatarKathy Gilbert says

      If Sara is on Marco Gonzales’ payroll at Coast Law Group, and Lorena Gonzales’ team to get Nathan Fletcher elected as mayor, can she offer unbiased views on this site? It’s fine if you support this effort and his candidacy, but stay informed thru their tweets so you don’t fall prey to their propaganda.

      Stay on top of tweets with Lorena and Sara and Nathan Fletcher about how the “left needs to be educated about sexism.” San Diego’s twitteratti impacts our day to day.

      Message to LABOR COUNCIL
      Thank you for seeing through Lorena game and looking out for those of us who work hard every day. Principals, integrity and values matter.

      • avatarDoug Porter says

        1. Comments by their very nature are biased. This premise of this web site is biased. I don’t think it’s right to suggest it’s a problem with somebody you disagree with.
        2. I have deleted her last name from this comment (It’s easy enough to find on the interwebs) in response to earlier suggestions (about another, since deleted comment) that we were exposing her to stalking. (Sadly, this does happen)

        • avatarJulie Blair says

          Thank you for maintaining integrity in this site. SDFP has provided some of the best coverage of the Filner fisasco. I respect your policy to protect commentators in the digital arena where people’s lives can be put in danger.

          With regard to Sara, she’s no shrinking violet. Anyone supporting Lori Saldana should talk with her about Sara and her followers roles in prompting Lori to make her Twitter account private. Sara’s close net Twitter crowd continuously makes fun of Lori’s decision to limit her digital exposure, which led to a Voice of San Diego story to somehow discredit Saladana because she wants to maintain a wall between her private space and her campaign. Sara provokes and then runs and hides.

          Cory Briggs – Good on you for supporting Lori’s response to why she has private Facebook and Twitter accounts. I’m appalled by how Lori’s being portrayed on Twitter and you stood out on that call.

          • avatarSara says

            Hi Julie –

            Lori is a politician, and it’s acceptable to publicly discuss her hypocrisies. I’d love to support her due to her progressive policies, but she’s burned bridges all over town, including with me. It takes more than the right ideas to be a successful public servant.

            She’s been using this Filner situation for personal political gain in ways that don’t ethically make sense to me. Why, if she supposedly was one of the female Dem leaders who tried to prevent his candidacy (for good reason) did she then very publicly endorse him?

        • avatarSara says

          Thank you, Doug.

          I’d prefer the courtesy of folks not using my last name, so please don’t. However, it’s now “out” and, over the last year or so, I’ve realized that it’s somewhat a futile effort to attempt anonymity. Mentioning my Twitter handle or employer are fair game, and feel free to engage with me on Twitter. The name is just… searchable otherwise.

          If you’re really that interested in my expressions on Twitter, I urge you to go back through the tweets from two years ago through about three months ago, during which time I was an ardent and outspoken Filner supporter. Right up until I talked to women he’d traumatized, at which point I grievously and angrily dropped my betrayed support and focused my energies on compassionate activism on behalf of his victims instead.

          Agree with Doug: Comments are opinions and differ from news. It’s supposed to work that way.

          Two months ago today, I wrote something that I didn’t post. It was such a traumatic and tumultuous time, and I had no idea what would happen next in the public arena or if it would be helpful. I posted it this morning in case you want to know the **real** Sara perspective (or at least one of them). I would’ve dropped it in a comment here, but it’s a little long for that:

          On the next Mayor: I really like David Alvarez. I want him to be a viable politician to serve SD for many years, and I’m not looking forward to seeing/hearing negative campaigns targeting him. I have friends who are split in their support between the two prominent contenders for all kinds of reasons. I don’t know yet who to throw my all-powerful tweets behind, but ad hominem attacks on Fletcher are disingenuous, so I’ll call them out from time to time. He’s a nice guy. He’s not a Progressive standard bearer (at least not yet), but he’s a sight better than DeMaio or Faulconer. I mostly don’t want an R back running the 11th floor, even for a shortened term. So, we’ll see. Honest Abe.

          • avatarLa Playa Heritage says

            Nathan Fletcher did his midnight deal to remove the Cap from CCDC’s downtown Redevelopment Agency (RDA) Project Area. The removal of the Cap required an automatic 10% increase to the required Affordable Housing set-aside funds from the current 20% to 30% minimum, and up to 35% with penalties. See Page 11.




            When asked if he would fix his SB-863 mistake that hurts the poor and Homeless Veterans in favor of the downtown elite, then-Assembly Member Fletcher stated that he could not get involved in the solution for economic justice for the Homeless, or righting the wrong he help create because “It is not my job.”

            SB-863 was approved in Sacramento without approval or knowledge by the City Council and the City Attorney, who were bypassed. Which is illegal and subverts our City Charter and Municipal Code.



            At any time candidate Fletcher can take a leadership position, come up with solutions and actions that can solve the ongoing Civil Rights violations and misdirection of RDA Property Taxes from the poor for use by the Rich.

          • avatar says

            Here it is: the apologist in mufti for Nathan Fletcher. “I don’t know yet who to throw my all-powerful tweets behind…”
            “He’s a nice guy.” No, Sara, he’s not. “He’s not a Progressive standard bearer (at least not yet)…” Not yet, not ever, Sara. He may be the cleverist, slickest, shadiest, emptiest candidate we have ever had for Mayor and needs to be revealed as such to the voting public.
            It’s clear who you are, Sara, and it’s not a friend of truth or justice or even women. And you certainly are no friend of Democrat David Alvarez.

      • avatarLorri says

        Kathy: I am not sure if you are asking me a question, or asking Sara. But, I will answer for me. At one time I had great respect for both Marco Gonzales and Lorena Gonzales. I have lost it. In a Facebook message, open to the public, Marco “trashed” me for being basically ignorant. If at any time, someone wishes to publish what he said to me, I may post it, although I have been seeking legal counsel for some of the things he said about me in a public forum, so it may have to wait. I have known Sara for a very long time and dearly love her. She is passionate, and cares about things that matter to me as well. However, she does work for Marco, so she may have access to things I don’t have. And, although Sara is 100% her own person, all of us may have to be careful of what we say if we work for someone. I am not saying that Sara is doing that, I am just saying when I was working for Squibb, there were things I saw and things that happened that I could not say. Coast Law Group, is in Encinitas, where I live and work. I got involved in all of this because of my background in Civil Rights. I am 66 years old and am of the same generation as Bob. I was not allowed on the Freedom Busses, as they were too dangerous for a small girl, at the time. I did march with Martin, and learned a lot from him. As I have already mentioned I was in LA when Bobby Kennedy was shot, so my activism stems many back to the 60’s. I fought for the sexual harassment laws that are now in place. Most older women, and a lot of these allegations were made by older women, played in a man’s world for many years, including Irene and Joyce. So, as I have also said, it is very difficult for me to imagine Joyce, who I have known for years, got too upset when Bob allegedly put his hand on her leg a little too long, and asked her out. Joyce is a tough woman. What I believe she would have done is told him to “go to hell” if she was that offended. So, when she came out, I got involved in this, as I don’t like media circuses. I had a dear friend, who is deceased, work for Doug Manchester so I also know how he plays. And I do have a friend, that was involved in the J. David Domenelli scandal in the 80’s who has given me information on Doug. I will say one kind thing about Manchester. When my friend that worked for him was very ill, with complications from AIDS, there was an experimental drug out there that some believed could help the men and women with AIDS. San Diego physicians could not get this drug. However, somehow, Doug Manchester got it for my friend. The doctors used it. Unfortunately it didn’t work, but that is not the fault of Doug Manchester. So, to summarize, I believe Sara is speaking her truth, and it happens to be Marco’s truth as well. Can she be totally impartial. I don’t know. That is for her to answer. As for Lorena, she is a politician now. I think that answers the question as to why she wants Fletcher to be Mayor. I look at him as a DINO (Democrat in name only). But the Democratic Party money lies in a few hands in San Diego, and they want Fletcher. So when the Democratic Party does endorse a candidate, I would bet good money on Fletcher. Money usually wins, but not always.

        • avatarAshley Gonzalez says

          Trashing people as ignorant is Marco Gonzalez’s MO. Ask SD Surfrider folks. It played a part in why they fired him as their attorney despite the fact that at one point he’d Chaired the organization. If you’re lucky you’ll get a peak in an infamous email he sent right before Surfrider canned his @ss.

          I love how of off all the posts in this comment section, Marco’s the only one that linked the CLG website to this comments. Great marketing, bra.

  7. avatarLorri says

    Norma: If you really want to do a complete story on all of this you may have to go back to the J. David Domenelli story of the 80’s. That is all I can say for now, unless I am given permission by one of the people involved in it. I will be calling this person, as he or she does not live in the U.S. at this time, and see if they will let me say more. But, it will add some clarity to a lot of missing pieces if this person will talk. If not, Nancy Drew may need to be called upon.

  8. avatarKris Field says

    Good follow up, Norma
    Thank you for all your effort to put this series together. This series and a story posted the day Filner’s resignation finalized have been the most credible I’ve read yet.

    A friend suggested reading it because apparently even though Marco Gonzalez, Ben Katz and Humberto Peraza were interviewed (Fletcher for Mayor campaigners), the writer offers in-depth coverage that includes longtime Filner colleagues told the writer they didn’t witness him sexually harass women

    Filner’s history doesn’t suggest the serial sexual harasser that got him kicked out of office, but he does come across as a first rate bully.

    “San Diego County Supervisor Ron Roberts, who has known Filner for decades, said he was stunned by the recent allegations. The two men served together on the city council in the late 1980s and he never witnessed or heard of Filner engaging in
    any sort of sexual harassment…. He did, however, observe the same traits that have
    characterized Filner’s entire career. “He just didn’t treat people well,” Roberts said.”

    It’s tragic that workplace bullying is legal. Maybe a discussion worth having is if
    workplace laws allow bullies get a way with anything, and only if by chance slip into a racial, gender or other “class” pattern that can be proven can employees sue? Is there a better way workplace law can protect workers from bullying?

    Maybe better workplace laws would have saved San Diego a $6 million special election.

    • avatarCynthia says

      I suspect that had your workplace laws been in effect, another method would have been used to get rid of Mayor Filner.

  9. avatar says

    I fail to see how “date requests” or asking about someone’s marital status constitute sexual harassment. It seems that the dictionary of sexual harassment, nebulous though it may be, was being added to on a daily basis by Filner’s accusers who, once the dam broke and the first one came out, couldn’t wait to pile on and get their 15 minutes of media fame. Some of them should have been flattered that Filner asked them for a date. They probably hadn’t had many of those in a long time.

    • avatarCynthia says

      I have to agree with Randy on this one, if not his name-calling. You could have left off your last two sentences and been ahead, as my sainted father would say.

  10. avatarErik says

    I am really looking forward to part III (and I think Norma provided some nice foreshadowing) of how some of this rests squarely on Filnership leadership style. He won in a close election with historically high turn out. He had powerful interests that were inclined to oppose him (welcome to the real world). His coalition didn’t have much organization and capacity to provide a well mobilized and consistent counterweight. For bob (or for David or Lori) to succeed they are going to HAVE to pick and choose their battles. Love him or hate him Sanders intuitively got that – tacking “left” several times over 7 years to minimize the chances that a well mobalized progressive coalition would coalescence and thwart him.

    • avatarKris Field says

      Marco Gonzalez words
      Marco Gonzalez September 11, 2013 at 3:00 pm
      FTR – I have not at this time endorsed any candidate in the mayor’s race. When I do, I’ll make sure it’s very clear who, and why.

      Marco Gonzalez actions
      – all that chatter does it matter (apparently so, Labor Council picked the other guy)
      – EVOLVE….. (and sis will have your back)
      – press conference at Civic Center 11 am July 11
      – press conference at Civic Center July 15 (loved the tie. Great color on you)
      – Don’t issue corrective statement when Livia and Lorena link to you is posted then omitted on U-T and national broadcasts (doing by not doing) July 19
      – Let her take the heat Noon July 22 (GR8 plastic surgeon and wig.)

      If the legal career tanks, you’ve always got memes to fall back on.

  11. avatarLorri says

    Marco states that Bob did not get help. How would you know that Marco? Did he confide in YOU that he did not get help? Some psychologist actually believe in confidentiality and therefore would not say he did or did not. As for another commenter who said did anyone know any of these women. I will answer, YES I DID. And, I also know they did it for their own reasons, not because they were so humiliated by Bob. Unlike Marco and Cory, who have decided to be judge and jury regarding Filner, some of us who know a lot more, would have love to have this played out in a courtroom, and given court ordered mandates to speak out. I cannot do this, because I have my own professional ethics, which at this point, I am proud of adhering to.

    • avatarbob dorn says

      Yeah, I’m disgusted by the firm of Briggs and Gonzalez. A city-wide election was nullified by incessant media coverage of unproved allegations, open war was declared by the City Attorney on the Mayor, a Sheriff used his office to solicit complaints against Filner and along come Briggs and Gonzalez to argue against any court involvement.
      They’ve made a mess on themselves, and now are looking for someone else to blame for it.

      • avatarSara says

        The majority of legal disputes are settled prior to filing lawsuits, and the majority of lawsuits are settled before trial.

        Attorneys who do pro bono work do it because they care about the cause at hand. Such advocacy is inherently *not* dispassionate.

        • avatarbob dorn says

          What part of a lawyer’s work is entering passionately into a blog to defend and advocate extralegal actions in which they make statements about their opponents and the law? They could sit it out and listen, couldn’t they? They might learn something.

          • avatar says

            Sorry Bob, the “sit it out and listen” is not what I do. Indeed, I never have. My goal in my life and my profession is to right wrongs. It’s what I’ve spent the majority of my career trying to do in the environmental arena, it’s why I formed Coast Law Group in the first place, and it’s why I stepped up and called for Bob to resign. I know it would have been a lot easier to sit it out and listen, but that just ain’t me. Sorry (not).

            • avatar says

              You disgrace the legal profession, Marco, with this profoundly skewed statement about what it is that responsible good lawyers do. But it clearly reveals the thinking that led you over the edge, along with Briggs and Frye.

  12. avatarR.C. Jennings says

    This was big business politics. Mayor Filner morphed into a toxic poison for the San Diego Democratic machine and had to be removed.

    We do live in a republic. The public spoke its opinion. Mayor Filner had to go. I would challenge those supporting the former Mayor to be honest and say that Mayor Murphy and Hedgecock deserved due process and should not have resigned? Both gentlemen did the right thing for the city.
    I am sure that the driving factor for Mayor Filners decision to resign was not the well being of San Diego. Even his high magnitude of ego could not over come the reality he found himself in.

  13. avatarLorri says

    Sara-If I am not mistaken, Dave Peck took the yoga case to court without a lot of press beforehand. And he did it pro bono. At that time, I was so proud of him in the courtroom, and the way he handled the case was awesome. Are you saying that Marco took this case pro bono? And, if so, since Filner was not just anybody, but as the duly elected Mayor of San Diego, should he not have had his day in court and then let the media decide what they wanted to run with? The law works in mysterious ways I guess. I am glad my profession is much more clear, I have to admit.

  14. avatarSara says

    Just for clarity so this isn’t left open-ended, yes: Dave advocated for yoga in schools on behalf of Encinitas children and families pro bono, but he wasn’t the one who took it to Court. The Plaintiffs did (the parents who sued the school to remove the yoga program).

    Dave’s early efforts focused on getting the case resolved without need for a trial, and there was a lot of public interest and resultant press coverage of his efforts (as well as the opinions of many other Encinitas residents) in the months before the lawsuit was filed. The media and public interest are like art imitating life imitating art (or some other mixed metaphor).

    100% of Marco’s work on the Filner issue was done pro bono.

    On justice and legal remedies (I am not an attorney):

    I’ve witnessed many travesties of justice in my time working at law firms. Some of whom were clients, some people who sought legal advice only to shrug and accept that yes, they’d been terribly wronged, but the pursuit of “justice” or rightful recompense wasn’t worth the added expense and trauma. If every horrid wronging were taken to the judicial system, society would stagnate. Most decent attorneys will advise use of litigation only as a last resort. And, of course, the McCormick case is ongoing, and Irene has been castigated by many for filing in the first place.

    Once the initial news hit, this situation took on a life of its own. I see the unquenchable thirst for “the real truth” here and by so many interested parties over the last couple of months as further justification to protect victims from being twice-victimized. It’s truly been an insatiable public appetite, and everyone and their sister has an opinion about who to pass judgment on.

    The brave women who told their personal stories, I think (not having met most of them) did so to protect those other women who were still too close to the painful, ongoing abusive situation to speak for themselves, and whose jobs and relationships may have been at stake. The more people rose up to defend Bob in those early days, the more these brave women felt compelled to lend first-hand credible accounts of his pattern and practice of mistreatment. His own statements were contradictory, so it’s no surprise that reactions were all over the map.

    I’ll go back to my initial point on Norma’s story last week (not directed at you, Lorri, but a general urging): discuss this story from every angle possible, but try to do so in such a way that doesn’t make it harder for women in society.

    • avatarJudith Wesling says

      Did anyone lose their job after saying no to Mayor Filner?

      Marco Gonzelez has written extensively in this comment thread. So why do you feel compelled to answer for him? (“100% of Marco’s work on the Filner issue was done pro bono.”) I guess you DO work for him. There seems to be a fuzzy line between you expressing your opinion as a private citizen (as I do) and expressing an opinion that also benefits your employer. I and a number of other women do not castigate Irene McCormack for filing a law suit – indeed it was the right thing to do. Since there are laws regarding harassment in the workplace, let the suit proceed to see if her allegations fit the parameters of the law. It’s the other women, putting their accusations in the public arena, and giving us the voters no opportunity to have these comments proved credible, that I objected to.

      • avatarRandy Dotinga says

        Check the accusations, which continue to be made public. Several women say they did not get what they were seeking (a job, assistance with an issue) after saying no to Filner.

        But this is, of course, irrelevant to sexual harassment in its legal and informal definitions. He disrespected and intimidated women by his own admission.

        He was a lawsuit waiting to happen (and it did), and his behavior is now reported (by a woman who agreed to go public) to have continued even after his public apology.

  15. avatarrheftmann says

    What will make it “harder for women in society” is to have a Queen of Hearts response to hearsay accusations. Why did your boss appear with Donna Frye instead the alleged victim? Instead of trusting the city governments policy and procedure (where the alleged victim had extraordinary advantage due to her rank) and then the courts, where Mr Gonzalez has accomplished so much, this was treated as a city-wide emergency. He created havoc. Rude though he may be, Filner managed a long and honorable career in public service. What he is accused of by any standard of criminal behavior, especially sex crimes, is minor and no immediate threat to the city. (His political accomplishments in a few short months were an immediate threat to the plutocracy.) Problems with his personality should have been handled less publicly, with discretion. Now zealots have ruined a chance of returning San Diego to the taxpayers andturned it over to plutocrats who have leapt at the opportunity this chaos creates, and discouraged good people from public service to prevent the ongoing plunder and horribly skewed priorities. Where is your sense of proportion? Dotinga, Gonzalez, Briggs, and their flash mob of righteous puritanical defenders of the delicate flower of womanhood have set gender equality back to the Victorian era.

    • avatarSara says

      That’s like saying whites had no place working to advance racial equality.

      Did you prefer the role placed big-name feminist, who is also female, Gloria Allred?

      Donna put her own credibility on the line by standing with attorneys on behalf of victims she personally knows as a means to protect them. The City has notoriously poor policies and procedures (I believe this provides an opportunity to strengthen them), and the pursuit of justice takes many lawful forms.

    • avatarJudith Wesling says

      rheftmann, your last sentence (“flash mob of righteous puritanical defenders…”) wins the prose prize of the day! Good one.

  16. avatarJudith Wesling says

    I think this whole topic has come to resemble the argument about the seals at the Children’s Pool in La Jolla.