Civic leaders insist city cannot function with Filner as mayor, call for investigation into Balboa Park traffic mitigation.
In a hastily arranged press conference, City Council President Todd Gloria and Council President Pro Tem Kevin Faulconer reiterated their demands that Mayor Bob Filner resign “for the good of the city.”
“While a shroud of shame hangs over the mayor’s office, the city council and our city employees are here working for you,” said Gloria in his opening remarks.
“A bipartisan supermajority of the city council, including Council President Gloria and myself, has called on Mayor Filner to resign so the cloud of uncertainty he has created can be lifted from San Diego. But unfortunately the mayor has decided that his own ego is more important than the reputation of our city, leaving San Diegans to wonder if anything can be accomplished at City Hall under his leadership,” said Faulconer.
“As the Council President and the senior member of the City Council, we are here to reassure San Diegans that the people’s business will be done at City Hall,” he said. “With Mayor Filner at the helm, San Diego is, as of now, without a credible citywide leader.”
Faulconer cited concerns that the city will be unable to effectively compete for federal and state government grants due to the ongoing sexual harassment allegations against the mayor, dismissing the strong representation the city has in both entities.
In a “having your cake and eating it too” fashion, both men insisted that the city will be hamstrung by a “lack of leadership” in the mayor’s office, while at the same time seeking to reassure residents of “America’s Finest City” that its local government will continue to function normally.
“We cannot efficiently and effectively run America’s Finest City with this mayor in office,” insisted Gloria.
Last week Mayor Filner appointed former County administrator Walt Ekard to be the city’s interim Chief Operating Officer, handing over responsibility for many of the day to day operations. With this, among other actions, Filner has insisted that the business of the city will continue on unimpeded.
“The hiring of an interim chief operating officer was a positive step. Walt Ekard is a true professional,” said Gloria. “We do not have a staff problem at the city. We have a mayor problem at the city.”
“We have mayor who has lost credibility not only here in the City of San Diego, but unfortunately nationwide. And as we are working together as a city, particularly trying to attract businesses to grow our economy, to grow jobs, it is almost impossible for them to have confidence in this mayor, in this bureaucracy, that the rules will be followed, that business will happen, and that things will get done,” said Faulconer.
Specifically, Gloria took issue with Filner’s firing of city lobbyists in Sacramento and Washington, D.C. “We have not had representation in either Sacramento or in Washington D.C. during his time in office,” apparently discounting the roles of elected representatives to government bodies in both cities. “Without the mayor’s hiring of lobbyists we have to find another way to communicate the city’s will.”
Gloria also noted that the city council may be calling on city staff to explain Filner’s actions regarding the Balboa Park traffic management plan, where the mayor effectively accomplished the same goals sought by the extensive $45 million proposed renovation of the Plaza de Panama by Qualcomm founder Irwin Jacobs, removing parking and limiting traffic from the park’s center and opening it up for pedestrian use for just over $300,000. That accomplishment has been widely lauded throughout the region.
Gloria also cited the San Diego Pension Board’s failure to approve the five year labor agreement negotiated by Filner’s administration and the city’s six public employee unions in time to reap the $25 million savings in the fiscal year that began on July 1. Specifically, he questioned why the mayor’s appointee, then interim chief operating officer and designee to the pension board Greg Bych, failed to attend and vote in a key meeting. The board fell one vote short of approving the deal.
However, Bych had stated all along his intention to recuse himself from that vote, citing the potential appearance of a conflict of interest since as the chief operating officer he was directly involved in the negotiations with the unions.
“I believe the mayor’s own words speak volumes, and speak very loudly” said Faulconer. “When the mayor said that his behavior is wrong. When the mayor said that he has disrespected women. When the mayor said that he has intimidated women. When the mayor told a local media outlet last week that there’s a monster inside him, it is time for him to go.”
Gloria and Faulconer said that the city council will consider a resolution calling for Filner’s resignation.
In a separate gathering, noted women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred announced the filing of a sexual harassment lawsuit against the City of San Diego on behalf of Irene McCormack Jackson, the mayor’s former Communications Director, who unexpectedly resigned last month.
Correction: This post has been updated to reflect that the lawsuit filed on behalf of Irene McCormack Jackson has been filed against the City of San Diego and not Mayor Filner personally as previously indicated.