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City Hall is the center of attention at the moment, but there is still much to celebrate and discuss regarding San Diego’s vibrant neighborhoods. There are just 19 days until Politifest, our annual family-friendly civics festival, which will be held from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at Liberty Station’s Central Promenade in Point Loma.
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On yet another remarkable day, America’s Finest City failed to live up to its nickname.
“Filner Headlock” and “Filner Dance” entered the vocabulary as citizens learned more about the allegations of sexual misconduct — if not sexual battery — against the mayor. More voices from both parties called for Mayor Bob Filner to resign. And his former fiancee released a wrenchingly personal account of the mayor’s behavior before she ended their relationship.
Filner insisted again that he is staying in office and rejected claims of sexual harassment. So what’s his explanation? “I’m a hugger,” he told KUSI during a brief round of TV interviews. You can read a full statement he distributed here, via U-T San Diego.
He still has both professional allies (some have new jobs working for him at City Hall) and friends in the community.
Here’s a roundup of the day’s news:
• Filner continued to reject calls to resign, and his allies-turned-accusers dug in on their position, too. Donna Frye used some fiery rhetoric in Monday’s follow-up press conference: “Bob Filner is tragically unsafe for any woman to approach” she said. She also offered lurid details of accusations from two constituents and a staff member.
You can watch the press conference, which featured a fiery outburst by Frye, here via KPBS. VOSD editor Sara Libby offered sharp analysis on Frye’s transformation from a saddened Filner supporter into a passionate avenger for those she believes were wronged: “Complete turnaround by Donna Frye … Thursday seemed helpless, crying. Now is defiant and actually screaming.”
• KPBS says it has been in touch with “sources” who “have described the mayor’s behavior as including inappropriate comments, kissing and groping. None of the women KPBS has spoken with have agreed to allow their circumstances or their names to be used for publication because of fear of retribution.”
• Rep. Susan Davis, a Democrat, and Councilman Mark Kersey, a Republican, both called on Filner to quit Monday. Six of the nine Council members have done so. The ones who haven’t are all Democratic women: Sherri Lightner, Marti Emerald and Myrtle Cole.
NBC San Diego has a roundup of reaction.
• The county Democratic Party’s leaders are going to figure out what to do on Thursday. (U-T)
• Filner talked to KUSI and News8, but the TV journalists didn’t do much to shed new light on the story. VOSD reporter Liam Dillon asked on Twitter: “How do two reporters with 15 minutes each with the mayor not ask him if he did any of the stuff he’s accused of doing?”
• We’ve compiled a handy guide to who’s in and who’s out at the mayor’s office; there’s been tremendous turnover.
And we heard directly from Walt Ekard, the former county government chief who’s now the city’s interim chief operating officer: “My focus is on making sure in the midst of whatever else is going that the city of San Diego is open for business.”
Innovation as a Male Enclave?
VOSD journalist Kelly Bennett, who’s on a reporting quest to understand innovation and its possible roadblocks, talks in a new feature to entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, scientists and others about what some see as a “patriarch problem”: “Is it just in web, app and software tech circles, or does it pervade biotech, hardware, semiconductors and the other realms where our region makes a name for itself? And does it refer strictly to gender, or is there a legacy-vs.-newbie element to the struggle?”
Arbitration Battle Prompts Shaming Via Billboard
We reported recently about the rise of corporation-friendly arbitration clauses in contracts; critics say they give away the store to companies at the expense of consumers. Now, one of the consumers we profiled, an customer-turned-activist who accuses a car dealership of treating him unfairly, is fighting back with a billboard on the dealer’s own used car lot. Get the details here.
Quick News Hits
• VOSD sports blogger John Gennaro takes in some roller derby.
• KPBS/inewsource reports that Councilman Mark Kersey is calling for “an independent audit of more than 300 property tax bills after an inewsource investigation raised the prospect that homeowners are paying too much — or too little — in special taxes.”
• A public radio station polls the state’s congressional representatives, including ours, on the immigration bill.
• Yesterday’s “Google Doodle” honored Rembrandt on the 407th anniversary of the painter’s birth.
Here in San Diego, we’re lucky enough to have a stunning Rembrandt of our own at Balboa Park’s Timken Museum of Art. It’s a portrait thought to be the martyred St. Bartholomew, whom legend says was skinned alive. It is the museum’s crown jewel.
I asked John Wilson, the museum’s director, about the painting for a 2011 VOSD article. He said: “He is somebody contemplating a serious issue. Is it because he knows he’s going to be martyred? … We can all look at that picture and realize it’s an emblem of deep, worrisome thought.”
This week, anyone who cares about our city can see themselves in those blunt, rich, dark swaths of paint.
Correction: An earlier version of this post said Filner gave interviews to KUSI and 10 News. He gave interviews to KUSI and News 8; 10 News reported on the KUSI interview but did not conduct its own interview with Filner.