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Whatever happens in the next few days or weeks, San Diego politics isn’t going to stop in its tracks. Elected officials will exaggerate, pundits will bloviate, activists will activate, and the show — which you appreciate at least a little if you’re reading this — will go on.
That’s why you might want to circle Aug. 3 on your calendar. Politifest, our annual politics festival, will be held from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at Liberty Station’s Central Promenade in Point Loma.
We’re starting the countdown today: 20 days to go.
Two more things:
• We need your support for Politifest. Click here to donate.
• We’ve made it much easier for you to get a handle on the community proposals in the Idea Tournament: Check out the friendly format here. Just remember that the deadline to vote for the winner, which will get a nifty grant, is this Friday.
The former allies of Mayor Bob Filner who first publicized sexual harassment allegations against him — including former Councilwoman Donna Frye — will hold their second press conference at 11 a.m. today outside City Hall.
It’s not clear what they will say, but it seems likely that they will talk in greater depth about the allegations and even perhaps introduce women who say they were harassed.
Filner admitted on Thursday to having “failed to fully respect the women who work for me and with me” and said that at “times I have intimidated them.” But, later, he clarified that “I am confident that a fair and independent investigation will support my innocence with respect to any charges of sexual harassment.”
Uncertain about what, legally, is beyond harassment? Lisa Halverstadt breaks down some of the technicalities at play in a new story about the legal definitions of sexual harassment, which is typically (but not always) a civil offense, and sexual battery, a criminal offense.
In other Filner news, a big U-T story about Filner’s history with women doesn’t offer any shockers but reveals another case of a Democratic elected official who says she was aware Filner had problems.
Rep. Susan Davis says she knew about what the paper calls “harsh treatment of female staffers” at his congressional office.
Also in the story, former legislator Lori Saldaña, who has a long history of conflict with Filner, offers more background about the issues that prompted her to complain, in vain, to local Democratic leadership about him in 2011: “He was very persistent in pursuing women even after they expressed no interest.”
The Days and Weeks Ahead
So what’s next? The big questions revolve around the women who accuse Filner of harassment (will they come forward?) and the investigation that Filner promises (will it begin?). But there are other issues too. Here’s a rundown:
• The First Complaint: Will we hear more about what may be the first official sexual harassment complaint against Filner?
Councilman David Alvarez filed it on Friday and promptly met with the mayor and told him to quit. We don’t know the circumstances of the complaint or even whether it has to do with Filner’s current term as mayor.
• The Stalwarts: Will Filner’s supporters rally to his defense?
While the Democratic leadership is largely abandoning Filner, he still has plenty of fans rallying on places like Facebook.
• The Forever Foes: Will Filner’s longtime foes look craven? A Recall Bob Filner page on Facebook featured so many offensive and sexist comments that the creator told users to simmer down. An anti-Semitic image was also posted and then apparently deleted.
Meanwhile, according to 10News, Filner’s mayoral opponent Carl DeMaio “posted a statement on his Facebook page with a button that reads, ‘We shall overcome.’”
• The Leadership Gap: Will we learn who’s minding the store? Thanks to departures reported to be resignations, the mayor’s office has no chief of staff, deputy chief of staff or communications director, among many other vacancies.
• The Neutrals: Four of the nine Council members have not called on Filner to resign. Three are Democrats — Sherri Lightner, Marti Emerald (who called him “courageous” for apologizing) and new Councilwoman Myrtle Cole. The other is Mark Kersey, a Republican.
• The Nowhere Man: Will Filner make more public appearances? Filner skipped Saturday’s gay pride parade and has largely stayed out of the public eye for days — though NBC 7 did catch Filner making a surprise appearance at a Sunday pride event.
He has, of course, made a reputation for himself as a mayor who is literally “everywhere.” When will he return to form?
Quick News Hits
• Will the new era of health care reform require insurers to cover alternative medicine providers like acupuncturists and chiropractors? It depends on the state. You can read about what’s covered in California by checking out our latest reports.
• The city’s pension fund’s chief says a City Council leak gave valuable information to a union chief during labor negotiations, the U-T reports.
• The former Wild Animal Park — now the The San Diego Zoo Safari Park — is in the middle of a baby boom, NBC San Diego reports. New additions include four white-bearded gnu — aka wildebeest — that weigh about 40 pounds at birth.
As a public service, I won’t make any puns in this space. As you know, I hate to be a gnuisance.