By Doug Porter
It was quite the day yesterday.
Three, count ‘em, three press conferences about [insert your favorite ‘-gate’ adjective about Bob Fiber’s alleged behavior here]. I’ll review them in chronological order, which also mirror (I think) the impact each will have on San Diego in long run. And we’ll take a look at the virtual vigilantes running amok on the interwebs.
Council members Todd Gloria and Kevin Faulconer held a noon presser, as former Assemblywoman Lori Saldaña put it on Twitter, “complaining the scandal takes time away from doing city work by taking time away from city work to complain about scandal.”
(See Andy Cohen’s coverage here)
What struck me about this bi-partisan whinefest wasn’t in the accompanying press release, which promised that the Earth would continue to orbit the sun, despite the presence of the monster living on the 11th floor of city hall.
The inferences that made this press conference important came in the choice of city policies they talked about “reviewing”. I wasn’t the only one who read between the lines when they were talking about Balboa Park. Or complaining about Filner’s decision to dump the city’s lobbyists and their Sanderesque agenda, which included pushing for a nice big new shiny Manchester developed building to house the Navy’s offices.
It certainly seemed like Todd Gloria was dropping the big hint towards Irwin Jacobs that the mayoral crisis presents an opportunity to reinstate the grand scheme to build a paid parking facility and bypass in Balboa Park.
After all, the few hundred thousand the city authorized to be spent on Mayor Filner’s Plaza de Panama program couldn’t hold a candle to the $45 million proposed in Irwin’s discarded idea.
In short, what we were hearing here was that, once the Monster Mayor was deposed all his hated policies could be undone by a get-it-done City Council.
To their credit, Gloria and Faulconer did NOT go so far as to promise to airbrush Bob Filner from all city photographs. But it was close.
The Big Time Announcement
I know, I know. Most ‘responsible’ media led with the news that former mayoral Communications Director Irene McCormack appeared with high profile lawyer Gloria Allred to announce a lawsuit.
The press conference was gut-wrenching to watch. The Mayor now formally stands accused of a lot of disgusting behavior.
Ms. McCormack is a brave woman to step forward and share all those horrible things she says happened to her. I have seen no reason to question her veracity, even after viewing the comments made by conspiracy theorists at the SD Reader and other places. Let the lawsuit proceed. I hope she wins. (Really!)
And this doesn’t help with my opinion of Mayor Filner as a person, which wasn’t that high to start with. Ugh.
Here’s a copy of the lawsuit, which my trusted legal-beagle-poker-buddy says does not rise to the level of something that should force someone to resign from this type of office. I don’t know. Lawsuits come and go all the time. I say let it play out in court.
Here’s Rachel Maddow’s coverage, which is about as harsh as it gets:
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Pretty disgusting, huh?
The City Attorney Speaks
By the time City Attorney Jan Goldsmith got around to holding his press conference, the media focus was still on endless replays of the dramatic statements made by Allred and McCormack. (after all, how do you top that press conference?). And the royal baby.
Goldsmith announced that the Mayor’s office has agreed to conditions that prohibit him from meeting with women alone at city facilities.
The City Attorney’s office will stand in for the City, with the Mayor being represented by private attorney Harvey Berger as the lawsuit moves forward. Goldsmith addressed the questions arising about the process for removing a mayor for misconduct, saying the city charter should be revisited, since Filner can only be removed from office through recall.
When Did I Stop Beating My Wife?
The pressure for all opionistas/public persons to join the call for Mayor Filner’s resignation is continual and unrelenting. But can you equate this pressure (figuratively) to an old fashioned lynch mob?
Upon reflection I’ve come to the conclusion that ‘vigilante’ is a better term.
It’s more in keeping with San Diego’s long history of tar and feathering/ running people out of town on a rail/or dumping them in the desert to waste away. In more recent history we’ve had threats and actions taken against college professors Herbert Marcuse and Peter Bohmer, the actions of pro and anti animal rights groups, and the rebirth of the Minutemen as a an anti-immigrant group.
Today’s vigilantes live in the world of social media. It’s not a problem unique to the debate about Mayor Filner or San Diego.
Here in San Diego the position has emerged that, if you’re not willing to call for Mayor Bob’s resignation, you’re fair game. Thus one line gets lifted out of context from an analysis posted at the Site That Can NOT Be Named (that’s us) yesterday (before the press conference) and gets broadcast via the Voice of San Diego Morning Report implying that Jim Miller is somehow the enemy of women and friend of groping politicians.
I asked Jim Miller for a comeback. He wasn’t too thrilled about the idea, saying
The sophomoric twitter ad hominem attacks speak for themselves. Remember these folks are bastions of journalistic integrity and objectivity, right?”
Jim Miller ultimately did respond:
“Either Dotinga didn’t read or understand the full piece and the way I tried to situate this scandal in the history of the ideology about women and feminism or he purposely sought to mischaracterize my argument and hopes that readers would not follow the link. Here is the full quote:
“To say that you are doing this to protect the victims is a kind of faux feminism that sounds a lot more like the patronizing patriarchal ideology of the cult of true womanhood in the 19th century than a genuine call for justice. I believe that you think you are on the side of the angels but justice requires that the women stand up for themselves.
“Women and their allies fought hard to establish the laws that make sexual harassment a crime. To claim that women are too frail to stand up for themselves in 2013 betrays an unconscious condescension and paternalism however noble your motives. Yes, it will be hard and some people will be uncharitable, but others will stand with them and insist they get a fair hearing and due process.
“It’s time to stop holding press conferences and make the case with fewer dramatics and more professionalism and dignity. The women deserve due process and Filner deserves due process. This is the only way justice rather than political gamesmanship will be served.”
In contrast to the first two press conferences which I think did it the wrong way, in the press conference yesterday McCormack and Allred had fewer dramatics and more professionalism and dignity. I think McCormack deserves to be taken seriously and respected as my piece notes. By standing up, she delivered a political death blow to Filner. Taking me to task for calling on her to do precisely what she showed herself capable of doing betrays the same paternalistic attitude towards women that I discuss in the piece. She could and DID stand up.
The larger gender issue I tried to address here is where we are now in terms of women standing up for themselves and being respected for doing so. Apparently my insistence that women CAN (one just did) and should stand up for themselves in confronting their harassers is beyond Randy Dotinga’s grasp.
It’s Getting Stupider
On the other hand if you ARE calling for the mayor to quit, you’re also fair game. Hizzoner’s defenders are out of hand. So much I won’t even offer up a link. I’ve seen the posts attacking Irene McCormack and Gloria Allred. Those people need to take their meds…or meditate…or something.
Individuals in both groups seem to lack the mental acumen to understand nuance. In their world it’s “For or Against”. That’s all there is…An inability to discern between the causes and implications also seems to be a shared trait.
The mayor’s alleged actions caused this crisis in San Diego, not some rightwing/secret/racist downtown cabal. But his removal has consequences that need to be considered. There are NOT just two sides here. I refuse to be placed in either of those boxes.
It’s those consequences that I (we) keep talking about. I won’t be cajoled into joining the Filner should resign crowd. I know ultimately he’s finished as an elected official, a fate he’s earned in a big time and disgusting way. But I see no benefit from standing on the virtual street corners of the city demanding that he quit.
The world won’t end if the mayor goes through the legal processes that got underway yesterday. All the puffery about negative effects for the city should he stay in office is just that, puffery.
On This Day: 1904 – The ice cream cone was invented by Charles E. Menches during the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis. 1962 – The “Telstar” communications satellite sent the first live TV broadcast to Europe. 1977 – Foreigner’s “Cold As Ice” was released.
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