By Doug Porter
11:45am- UPDATED to include today’s press conference.
The ‘too many words…too few facts!’ phase of the allegations of sexual harassment aimed at San Diego’s Mayor Bob Filner is ending today, as more specifics are emerging. Whether we like it not, whether it’s fair or not, it appears to me that hizzoner’s political career is ending.
Bob Filner, however, doesn’t think so. The Mayor released a statement this morning announcing that he would not resign and that Walt Ekard, former county administrator has been appointed as Chief Operating Officer for the City of San Diego.
“I’m not going to resign, and here’s why,” said Filner in a press release. “As your elected mayor, I fully expect to be accountable to the citizens of San Diego for all of my actions. But as a citizen of this country, I also expect – and am entitled to – due process, and the opportunity to respond in a fair and impartial venue to specific allegations. I do not believe I am guilty of sexual harassment, and I believe a full presentation of the facts will vindicate me.,”
The saga of Mayor Filner’s fall from grace has provided me with a lot of food for thought. Feelings of betrayal brought on by each new revelation/allegation are countered by anger at the smarmy triumphalism of evil people eager to exploit the failings of one human being in their quest for political and economic hegemony.
The hypocrisy of the local GOP establishment’s ‘due process’ stance is striking. Carl DeMaio’s Facebook page sported a ‘We Shall Overcome’ button, mocking the history of a fallen civil rights activist. The more Filner fails, the more government fails, the better it is for those whose utopian vision most closely matches Somalia.
Statements (the link is an early leak about one woman via KPBS) from women who claim to have been harassed by Bob Filner are being presented to the media later this morning… (This story will be updated at that time)
UPDATE: Those who have been calling for details about the Mayor’s alleged bad behavior got an earful this morning.
An angry Donna Frye got up and recounted two constituent stories about unwanted advances from Filner. It sounded gross. Unwanted kisses. Tongues jammed down throats. Breasts being fondled.
Cory Briggs and Marco Gonzales chimed in, telling about a city employee who was alleged being told that her work would improve if she didn’t wear panties. We heard about the ‘Filner headlock’ and the ‘Filner dance’, terms used to describe the Mayor’s tactics and how women tried to avoid him. And we heard about official complaints and lawsuits that will be filed.
Gonzalez: “Regardless of what the mayor does from here on out, short of resigning, we will do what we have to do, whether it is criminal, civil or administrative to ensure this is resolved.”
Frye: “The goal is to get these women assistance and help them heal, not to extract money.”
Gonzalez: “We are not saying what happens if the mayor does not step down. We are saying he needs to step down now.”
Everybody agreed that resignation was a necessary step.
Except for the Filner supporters in the background chanting for due process.
KPBS is up with a story this morning regarding a statement from Bronwyn Ingram, in which the Mayor ex-fiancé claims “she ended her relationship with him because he became increasingly abusive toward her and began sending sexually explicit text messages to other women in her presence.”
While Ingram told KPBS that she had no direct knowledge of sexual harassment by the Mayor, she did say that it was time for him to step down. She told UT-San Diego reporter Craig Gustafson that she reluctantly released the statement because a PRA request would soon reveal an email she sent to a friend, an SDPD officer.
Now here’s the interesting part, suggesting that there might be an underlying health issue (dementia?)…
Ingram said she witnessed what she called a “severe deterioration in Bob’s ability to engage with anyone in a civil manner, myself included.” During a recent trip to Paris, she said, Filner screamed at her in public without provocation, among other “inappropriate and disrespectful acts.”
If hizzoner’s behavior is health related, it doesn’t change the reality that Filner is finished politically. It doesn’t change the fact he seems to always have had a problem with treating women respectfully. But it does make the whole thing even sadder.
And that could be one ending to this story. The Mayor stays, fights, but ultimately leaves for health reasons. On the other hand, we are dealing with Bob Filner, who’s not known for backing down. He has reportedly hired a ‘politically connected’ law firm to guide him through the coming months.
What a mess.
As my colleague Jim Miller says elsewhere here today, “…the real winners here are the same old downtown insiders who are busy popping champagne corks and laughing at Filner’s implosion and cheering the welcome help they are getting from unlikely sources.”
The only real choice progressives have is to move forward. The leadership of the local Democratic Party needs to know this situation is a wakeup call. Those who have culpability with acquiescing to Filner’s foibles need to understand that they bear some responsibility for his failures as a leader.
The days of having an executive in San Diego amenable to a progressive agenda are, it would seem, over. That does not alter need the need to continue to struggle for political and social justice. Electoral politics is but one arena and, for now, the paths forward may be lie elsewhere.
Who Will Take the Throne?
As it became increasingly clear over the weekend that specifics were soon coming in to buttress the general allegations against Mayor Filner, the behind the scenes posturing over his successor reached a feverish pitch. Of course, these stories are all unsubstantiated for the most part; nobody wants to jump the gun.
Heir apparent among the Republicans is Kevin Faulconer, unless Carl DeMaio decides to step back from his already well funded campaign for the Congressional seat currently occupied by Scott Peters.
On the Democratic side of the equation, the SD Reader posted a story about a rainbow-ized placard made by a Hillcrest Realtor: “Todd Gloria For Mayor 2013 – Let’s Make San Diego Fabulous”. It suggested this was evidence of a set up or plot to take down Filner. Katie Keach, Deputy Chief of Staff for Gloria wrote in to deny that her boss had anything to do with the sign. And the realtor (Don Cassidy) chimed in, saying, “We made this poster to be silly.”
None-the-less, the conspiracy theorists continue to prattle on. I’d be real surprised if Gloria did anything to get in the way of his pre-destined course for Susan Davis’ Congressional seat.
Rumors about Nathan’s Fletcher’s willingness to take San Diego’s top spot saw the light of day with a posting in SDRostra, the local conserve blog.
According to conversations downtown today, former Republican, former independent, current Democrat Nathan Fletcher was all over the phones today calling potential donor types. The message: “Filner is done, Lorena won’t challenge me, Kehoe and Saldana are too liberal to win, Frye is nuts, and I have labor support no matter what other Democrat is in the race.”
My own sources in organized labor tell me that any presumption of support for Fletcher is simply not true. Not to be deterred, the conspiracy set of at SDRostra is also claiming that Christine Kehoe is the front runner for the post by virtue of her ability to draw upon the rivers of gold flowing through Sacramento
Fake Journalism on Fake UTTV News
In case you’ve missed the reports, Manchester’s Mission Valley minions are planning on taking their TV operation national. Since we’re incapable of talking about anything not Filner-related today, I’d like to present a preview of what the rest of the country can expect with this ‘exclusive report’ by Trent Siebert, (formerly one of Colorado’s worst journalists) where-in he recycles materials gathered and published by GOP investigator Derrick Roach back in 2010. (I was going to post the video, but UT only gave up a link.)
They have mastered one thing over at UTTV: they know how to make viewers cringe.
Check Out the SDFree Press Calendar
Thanks to the efforts of Brent Beltrain, the San Diego Free Press now has an on-line calendar of events. You can see events in the arts, performances and political gatherings of every persuasion by clicking on the ‘Calendar’ Tab at the top of the page. To get your event listed, drop us a line: email@example.com
On This Day: 1789 – The electors of Paris set up a “Commune” to live without the authority of the government. 1971 – U.S. President Nixon announced he would visit the People’s Republic of China to seek a “normalization of relations.” 1992 – Aretha Franklin sang the U.S. national anthem at the Democratic National Convention in New York City.
Did you enjoy this article? Subscribe to “The Starting Line” and get an email every time a new article in this series is posted!
I read the Daily Fishwrap(s) so you don’t have to… Catch “the Starting Line” Monday thru Friday right here at San Diego Free Press (dot) org. Send your hate mail and ideas to DougPorter@