SAN DIEGO – August 23, 2013 – San Diego Mayor Bob Filner agreed to resign as the elected leader of the nation’s eighth largest city effective August 30.
Several days of mediation under the guidance of retired Judge Lawrence Irving resulted in the resignation by Filner. The resignation was then approved unanimously in a closed session by members of the San Diego City Council.
In return, the City of San Diego has agreed to defend Filner in the sexual harassment lawsuit filed against him by his former Communications Director, Irene McCormack Jackson. She is represented by attorney Gloria Allred, who said publicly Thursday no settlement had been reached with her client.
From the first, Filner was defiant about his behavior, denying any inappropriate behavior and indicating no intention of resigning, even as the parade of women who came forward to share lurid details of Filner’s behavior continued, 18 of whom made their stories public.
His departing remarks to the San Diego City Council continued in this vein and his boxing gloves were firmly secured. Although Filner offered a “deep apology,” blaming awkwardness and hubris while adding, “my own personal failures were responsible.” Then he began finger pointing at his foes in an angry, accusatory tone.
“I started my political career facing lynch mobs. I think we have just faced one in San Diego. You’re (the City Council) going to have to deal with that. In a lynch mob mentality, rumors become allegations, allegations become facts, facts become evidence of sexual harassrrment, which led to demands for my recall and resignation. Not one allegation has ever been independently verified or proven in court. I have never seuxally harassed anyone. But the hysteria that has been created and many of you helped feed is that of a lynch mob,” said Filner.
Filner continued and blamed his political enemies and the news media for his departure.
“Those of you in the media need to look at what you helped create. We will be paying for this affront to democracy for a long time. The hysteria ended up playing iinto the hands of those who wanted a political coup, the removal of a Democratic mayor purely by rumor and innuendo. Now I am responsbile for providing the ammunition and I take full responsiblity.
“The media and their agents have pulled the trigger. That is not what democracy is all about. I was elected to make changes, people opposed me from the beginning. They found wepons among my failures as a human being and they used them in a bloody vicious way. You’re going to have to deal with that,” warned Filner.
Filner went on to cite a list of his accomplishments including cleaning up the La Jolla Cove area along the Pacific Ocean of “seal poop,” a direct quote.
Filner said he knew if given due process, he would be “vindicated.”
Filner urged his supporters, many of whom loudly cheered him on during his 15 minutes of remarks, to continue the work they had begun. “I was at Madison Square Garden when Ted Kennedy said in 1980 as he conceded to President Carter for the presidential nomination,’The work goes on, the cause endures. The hopes still lives and the dream shall never die.’“
Following Filner’s remarks, San Diego City Attorney Jan Goldsmith outlined the terms. He said the agreement for legal represenation does not cover any criminal charges that could be made against the Mayor in relation to the sexual harassment charges or other pending investigations including an allegation he solicited a bribe in exchange for approval of a development project. The California Attorney General’s office confirmed Friday afternoon a criminal investigation is underway involving Filner.
Goldsmith also said the City could seek reimbursement for unrelated fiscal claims against the Mayor.
A vigorous recall effort underway was credited in part with pressing everyone involved to reach an agreement that included the Mayor’s resignation. There were numerous barriers to the recall’s succes, however, including the need to gather over 100,000 valid voter signatures in 39 days to place the recall on the ballot.
Council President Todd Gloria now steps in as the interim Mayor until a special election can be held to fill the Mayor’s unexpired term, which has over three years left to run. Gloria thanked Judge Irving for his role in the agreement. Gloria said, “This settlement represents an end to our civic nightmare. … This agreement is a good agreement for our city. It limits our existing liability on existing and potential claims.”
Late night talk show hosts and comedians are now left only with Anthony Weiner for their political humor. They don’t have Bob Filner to kick around anymore.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is a veteran, award-winning print and broadcast journalist. She is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California.
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Copyright © 2013 by Falcon Valley Group
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