We’ll forgive you if you missed mayoral candidate Bob Filner’s performance during the City Council hearing on the future of Balboa Park Monday. The meeting lasted seven-and-a-half hours and Filner was just one of the 140 speakers who gave their point of view before the council voted in favor of philanthropist Irwin Jacobs’ plan to remake the park’s Plaza de Panama.

Filner opposed the project and headlined a rally against it before the council hearing.

His six-minute speech during the hearing was an absent-minded-professor moment mixed with hubris and humor.

We have the recording of Filner’s speech below, but here are some highlights:

• Filner referred to current Mayor Jerry Sanders, a project supporter, as “my predecessor as mayor.”

• He questioned the project’s financing by wondering what happen if the tech company Jacobs’ founded, Qualcomm, lost its value. Or what would happen if “Irwin dies.” After a beat Filner added, “Heaven forbid.”

• Filner coached the crowd to taunt his mayoral opponent, City Councilman Carl DeMaio. As DeMaio watched from the dais, Filner warned that the city’s bill for the project might grow. Filner said he’d call that situation “The Carl DeMaio tax.” Then he turned to the audience to do a call-and-response. “What are we going to call it?” Filner asked. “The Carl DeMaio tax,” the crowd responded. (DeMaio, who is famously anti-tax and was hot and cold about the Jacobs project during the campaign, voted in favor.)

• Filner attempted and failed numerous times to say the word “unmitigable,” a reference to the profound effects the project might have on the park. That resulted in this, according to our Kelly Bennett, who was in the room.

I don’t know if I’ve ever seen such a grin on @carldemaio‘s face as when @bobfilnermayor tries to pronounce the word “unmitigable.” #plazabp

— Kelly Bennett (@kellyrbennett) July 9, 2012

• Filner closed his speech by wondering what Balboa Park maven Kate Sessions would think of Jacobs’ proposal. (Sessions died in 1940.) Filner then said, “Holy mackerel, she’s here!” Up walked a Sessions look-alike dressed in period garb. The look-alike first clarified that she was not, in fact, Sessions. She added she was opposed to the plan.

Watch the full video of Filner’s speech:

YouTube video

Disclosure: Irwin Jacobs is a major supporter of Voice of San Diego.

Liam Dillon is a news reporter for Voice of San Diego. He covers San Diego City Hall, the 2012 mayor’s race and big building projects. What should he write about next?

Please contact him directly at liam.dillon@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.550.5663.

Like VOSD on Facebook.

Liam Dillon was formerly a senior reporter and assistant editor for Voice of San Diego. He led VOSD’s investigations and wrote about how regular people...

Leave a comment

We expect all commenters to be constructive and civil. We reserve the right to delete comments without explanation. You are welcome to flag comments to us. You are welcome to submit an opinion piece for our editors to review.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.