Sources: Mayor’s Office Canceled Harassment-Related Training Sessions

Sources: Mayor’s Office Canceled Harassment-Related Training Sessions

File photos by Sam Hodgson

Jay Goldstone (left) and Bob Filner

San Diego Mayor Bob Filner’s office canceled multiple new employee and management training sessions in the first months of his term, a former top city official said late Wednesday. The sessions included direction to complete legally required sexual harassment training, two City Hall sources with knowledge of the situation said.

These statements contradict the version of events offered  by Filner’s attorney Harvey Berger in a letter to City Attorney Jan Goldsmith. In the letter, Berger contends the city is liable for Filner’s legal fees in his sexual harassment lawsuit because of the failed training. Berger claims that city trainers “unilaterally cancelled” the sessions and never rescheduled.

“Had the city provided mandatory sexual harassment training to Mayor Filner, [former spokeswoman Irene] McCormack Jackson may never have brought her lawsuit,” Berger wrote in the July 29 letter.

Former city Chief Operating Officer Jay Goldstone said Filner’s office canceled several training sessions, which would have covered payroll, benefits and other employee and management roles and responsibilities, because the mayor’s office said it didn’t have time for them.

Goldstone disputed Berger’s assertion that city staff canceled the training sessions.

“Absolutely not. I am 100 percent certain that they did not cancel it,” Goldstone said.

Goldstone said the mayor’s office eventually relented and held a training session that covered benefits only, because officials were told they wouldn’t receive their benefits without one.

Goldstone, who left the city in March, said he didn’t know whether the canceled sessions would have included direction to complete the city’s online sexual harassment training course. But two City Hall sources with knowledge of the situation confirmed that notification of that state law requiring sexual harassment training within six months of Filner taking office was part of what would have been covered.

“It’s employee benefits, it’s new employee orientation, it’s sexual harassment training, it’s all of these things,” one source said.

The City Council unanimously rejected Filner’s request to pay his attorney fees and counter-sued him for the city’s liability in two votes Tuesday. Filner completed the sexual harassment training five days after the scandal broke earlier this month.

Berger could not immediately be reached for comment late Wednesday.

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Liam Dillon

Liam Dillon

Liam Dillon is senior reporter and assistant editor for Voice of San Diego. He leads VOSD’s investigations and writes about how regular people interact with local government. What should he write about next? Please contact him directly at liam.dillon@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.550.5663.

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24 comments
Richard Bagnell
Richard Bagnell

How do you know when a lawyer is lying? Check to see if his lips are moving. Your lips were moving Mr. Berger!

Richard Bagnell
Richard Bagnell subscriber

How do you know when a lawyer is lying? Check to see if his lips are moving. Your lips were moving Mr. Berger!

Don Wood
Don Wood

So we're back to articles based on "unnamed sources" again? Weren't we back there about a month ago. It seems that Liam could check directly with city staff to find out the facts, instead of quoting Jan Goldsmith and "unnamed sources" who may have an ax to grind against the mayor.

Don Wood
Don Wood subscriber

So we're back to articles based on "unnamed sources" again? Weren't we back there about a month ago. It seems that Liam could check directly with city staff to find out the facts, instead of quoting Jan Goldsmith and "unnamed sources" who may have an ax to grind against the mayor.

Ann Bauer
Ann Bauer

The total absurdity of this idea is galling. Whether it's "the City" or "the Mayor's office," in the 21st century, no 70 year-old, previously elected official, should need training in order to avoid sexual harassment. This is a perfect example of people confabulating the legal system toward their own intent. Ridiculous.

Warren Wattles
Warren Wattles

Whether the sexual harassment training was canceled or not, some of Mayor Filner's alleged actions go beyond mere workplace harassment and well into the realm of sexual assault and battery.

SueNami
SueNami

Attorneys hate it when their clients lie to them. Here, if Filner lied to his attorney Harvey Berger about the City, not Filner, canceling the City's sexual harassment training, causing Mr. Berger to write the City complaining about such cancelation - and if not true, thereby putting egg on Mr. Berger's face - it could cause Mr. Berger to fire Filner.

Pat Flannery
Pat Flannery

It is important for the public to know who on "city staff" is feeding this information to VOSD through Jay Goldstone. Irene McCormack is still on "city staff" and was in "the mayor's office" when the training was cancelled. As a city staffer with a lawsuit against the city she would be an unreliable media source. Mr. Dillon has reported elsewhere that: "Jay says mayoral staff, didn't know exactly who on staff, cancelled multiple training sessions set up by the benefits/HR people"

christine mann
christine mann

NTM the city is nothing but a bunch of liars and hypocrits. Goldstone has ZERO credibility. and then there is this: City Council members recently voted to give Goldsmith $500,000 to hire two big law firms to defend lawsuits by victims of sexual predator, Anthony Arevalos. Here is an excerpt from www.californiacriminallawyerblog.com:> "That's right. These very City Council members authorized $500,000 in retainers on two high profile law firms to DEFEND the city and the sexual predator cop against lawsuits brought by the sick cop's last 2 victims. Now the city attorneys and their high powered firms can further harass, bury, paper and destroy two women's lives who were already sexually assaulted by a cop the City knew was out there doing it. The cop is in state prison, his supervisors knew what was happening for years, the Chief gave the cop's supervisors promotions, and City Attorneys are taking depositions of victims, prying into their sex lives, trying to find old boyfriends, trying to scare them. Thanks San Diego City Council for protecting innocent women. All of you Filner haters who voted to continue the emotional harassment of two innocent victims of rogue cop Anthony Arevalos by handing misogynist Jan Goldsmith a blank check are simply two-faced."

christine mann
christine mann subscriber

NTM the city is nothing but a bunch of liars and hypocrits. Goldstone has ZERO credibility. and then there is this: City Council members recently voted to give Goldsmith $500,000 to hire two big law firms to defend lawsuits by victims of sexual predator, Anthony Arevalos. Here is an excerpt from www.californiacriminallawyerblog.com:> "That's right. These very City Council members authorized $500,000 in retainers on two high profile law firms to DEFEND the city and the sexual predator cop against lawsuits brought by the sick cop's last 2 victims. Now the city attorneys and their high powered firms can further harass, bury, paper and destroy two women's lives who were already sexually assaulted by a cop the City knew was out there doing it. The cop is in state prison, his supervisors knew what was happening for years, the Chief gave the cop's supervisors promotions, and City Attorneys are taking depositions of victims, prying into their sex lives, trying to find old boyfriends, trying to scare them. Thanks San Diego City Council for protecting innocent women. All of you Filner haters who voted to continue the emotional harassment of two innocent victims of rogue cop Anthony Arevalos by handing misogynist Jan Goldsmith a blank check are simply two-faced."

Liam Dillon
Liam Dillon memberadministrator

I'm talking mayoral cabinet (chief of staff, deputy chief, policy people) vs. regular benefits/HR people.

christine mann
christine mann

from Don Bauder "Berger mentions that McCormack Jackson filed an unverified lawsuit, not a verified one. That is, McCormack Jackson did not sign the complaint. Her lawyer did. Thus, allegations could change. "I am currently not aware of any witnesses supporting the plaintiff's specific allegations," said Berger, noting that Filner denies them."

christine mann
christine mann subscriber

from Don Bauder "Berger mentions that McCormack Jackson filed an unverified lawsuit, not a verified one. That is, McCormack Jackson did not sign the complaint. Her lawyer did. Thus, allegations could change. "I am currently not aware of any witnesses supporting the plaintiff's specific allegations," said Berger, noting that Filner denies them."

christine mann
christine mann

Oh Liam you have no credibility in my opinion. You are obviously kissing Jacobs rear.

christine mann
christine mann subscriber

Oh Liam you have no credibility in my opinion. You are obviously kissing Jacobs rear.

Pat Flannery
Pat Flannery

You draw a distinction between "the mayor’s office" and "city staff". What exactly is that difference? Will it be a factor in whether the City is liable or not?

Randy Dotinga
Randy Dotinga

In fact, Don, the mayor's office does not typically respond to media inquiries, even ones about positive or neutral stories.

Randy Dotinga
Randy Dotinga memberauthor

In fact, Don, the mayor's office does not typically respond to media inquiries, even ones about positive or neutral stories.

David Crossley
David Crossley

So you call Filner's own COO a liar, and then go off on another of one of your rants that have nothing to do with Goldstone. Classic.

David Crossley
David Crossley subscriber

So you call Filner's own COO a liar, and then go off on another of one of your rants that have nothing to do with Goldstone. Classic.

David Crossley
David Crossley

And this has what, exactly, to do with Goldstone calling your boy Filner's attorney (and presumably Filner) a liar?

David Crossley
David Crossley subscriber

And this has what, exactly, to do with Goldstone calling your boy Filner's attorney (and presumably Filner) a liar?

Pat Flannery
Pat Flannery

The reason I ask the question is that the person suing the city for sexual harassment was "mayoral cabinet" at the time the class was cancelled and "regular benefits/HR people" at the time you reported who was responsible for its cancellation, quoting city staff "sources".

Liam Dillon
Liam Dillon

I'm talking mayoral cabinet (chief of staff, deputy chief, policy people) vs. regular benefits/HR people.