One of the strangest days in city politics in recent memory featured a video apology from Mayor Bob Filner after three supporters asked him to resign in an emotional press conference that featured no new details about the allegations of sexual harassment they were making.
The apology seemed to work for some, as our Liam Dillon noted. Amazingly, one Democrat — Councilwoman Marti Emerald — went as far as to praise Filner for his “courage.” But the problem did not go away for the mayor. Republicans on the City Council called for Filner to resign. Democratic allies said he should fix his behavior and resign if he could not.
What did Filner actually do wrong? He was not specific. He said: “I have failed to fully respect the women who work for me and with me, and that at times I have intimidated them,” he said in a taped statement, adding that he needs “help” and will be apologizing to current and former employees, both men and women.
Attorney Marco Gonzalez, who represents some of the women, said their reaction to his statement will come today.
It was a fast-moving day in local politics. Filner did not show up for a scheduled panel discussion on the USS Midway (a fellow panelist was former Mayor Jerry Sanders). #filnereverywhere suddenly didn’t seem applicable. Here’s more coverage from VOSD and elsewhere.
What Did Filner and Frye Actually Say?
Read Filner’s statement here, courtesy of 10News, and catch up with various reaction via the station’s Twitter roundup.
CityBeat quotes some of Frye’s comments at a press conference: “When I received credible firsthand evidence of more than one woman being sexually harassed, I could not not act. I believe what they have told me, and they need to know that they are not alone. There are people who support and care about them. I did not make this request lightly. It is one of the hardest decisions I have ever made.”
Who Knew What and When?
Lori Saldaña, a prominent Democrat and former legislator, tells us that she warned party leadership in 2011 about multiple allegations against Filner from women but it did nothing. He was elected last year.
Later, a former party chair confirmed to U-T San Diego that this indeed happened, but Filner “assured me there was nothing to be concerned about. And Francine Busby, the current party chair, told us that discussions about Filner’s treatment of women never rose above rumor.
Look Who’s Talking
One of the attorneys leading the push for Filner’s resignation isn’t focused on allegations of sexual harassment. We take a closer look at Cory Briggs, who has other accusations on his mind. Make sure to read to the bottom of this story, where we’ve published an update in which Briggs says we misreported his comments.
CityBeat, the progressive weekly and a reluctant supporter of Filner because of his personality, told him to quit: “He should know better. And that he didn’t know better demonstrates a serious lack of basic ethical judgment, and that’s a problem that’s easily transferable to other areas of his jurisdiction and responsibility.” The U-T, meanwhile, called for caution and “due process.” (No, that’s not a misprint. And yes, they did make sure to slam just about every Dem in the 619 and 858 area codes.)
(Patch.com has a rundown of reactions.)
Look Who’s Grinning
When a local journalist tweeted that “Somewhere in San Diego, Carl DeMaio is grinning,” DeMaio replied with a single word: “Indeed.” DeMaio is running for Congress against Scott Peters, who had one of the harshest takes on Filner but stopped short of calling for him to resign.
DeMaio seems like he wants to get involved in a regime change.
“I’m discussing several ideas with supporters and civic leaders on how we can best help stabilize the situation and help our city move past this chaos,” he wrote via Facebook, sounding a bit like he’s was trying to figure out how to repair a tire. Read our story for more about what he’s up to.
More Filner News and Reaction
• NBC San Diego notes there’s no evidence that Filner’s accusers went through official channels to complain about his behavior.
Does that matter? As we’ve seen in previous scandals, the passage of time can make accusers vulnerable to attack. However, it seems as if some of the victims worked for Filner over just the last seven months.
• In its worst moment ever — and that’s saying something — U-T TV dug up old surreptitiously taped video of Filner, courtesy of a GOP operative, that shows nothing at all and speculated about it at length.
VOSD’s Scott Lewis, meanwhile, says some of the mayor’s prominent defenders are “giving him a pass”: “Will all the Dems who are demanding the mayor change (or else!) appoint some kind of monitor, inspector general? Self-evaluation?”
• “Was there a time machine that pulled Filner from the ’60s and plopped him into 2013?” — letter writer Genevieve A. Suzuki.
• Vague allegations will keep this story afloat for a while, VOSD reporter Liam Dillon writes.
• The Reader recalls City Hall’s last big sexual harassment scandal, one that cost taxpayers big-time.
• We’ll give the last word to a Reader scribe who notes that another leader, Winston Churchill, was abusive to staffers. In classic nothing-to-see-here style, the writer also tries to divert attention from the new scandal to old scandals. (Add that to your playbook, people.)
Quick News Hits
• The county has set up a web page to help newly released prisoners get information that can help them transition to life outside the clink. (Fox5)
• The California Public Employees’ Retirement System is going to release the names of 500,000 pensioners along with the amounts of money they get through their pensions. (AP)
• San Diego ranks second among 200 cities worldwide for filing patents, according to a new ranking of “most inventive cities” by the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development. (Forbes)
• Scripps Research Institute is trying to figure out why the drugs known as “bath salts — no, not what you put in your bubble bath — are so addictive. (LA Times)
• The big news about accusations broke on Wednesday afternoon when I was lost in a happy fentanyl haze during a colonoscopy.
Certain stressed-out political types might want to schedule a colonoscopy right now. It’s medicinal and legal and, for a few hours, no one will be able to accuse them of being full of it.
Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego and vice president of the American Society of Journalists & Authors. Please contact him directly at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.
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