“It’s Irene,” buzzed the reporters in a hotel conference room yesterday afternoon. “It’s Irene.” And in an instant, the mayor’s sexual harassment scandal became intensely more personal and damaging.
Irene McCormack, the mayor’s former communications director, who walked out weeks ago alongside his longtime friend, Allen Jones, said the mayor saw women in his office as “sexual objects or stupid idiots.”
“I saw him place his hands where they did not belong on numerous women. I was placed in the Filner headlock and moved around as a rag doll while he whispered sexual comments in my ear. We did not have a relationship other than work. That is all I wanted and I never gave him any reason to think otherwise,” she said.
• McCormack’s decision to go public answers three important questions about the allegations against the mayor. Of special note: the role played by Jones, whose confrontation with the mayor now has more context from McCormack’s point of the view.
“He is not fit to be mayor of our great city,” said McCormack, who described herself as a progressive who was enthusiastic to work for Filner and willing to take a $50,000 annual pay cut compared to her previous job. “He is not fit to hold any public office. A man who lacks character makes a mockery of his ideas.”
• Filner issued a statement yesterday. Here’s an excerpt: “I humbly ask that through this vicious storm of controversy, people take a moment and temper their rush to judgment. I do not believe these claims are valid. That is why due process is so important. I intend to defend myself vigorously and I know that justice will prevail.”
• NBC San Diego says the mayor’s security detail is making sure he doesn’t meet alone with women while in city facilities.
• So who’s Filner most like these days? St. Sebastian? The Energizer Bunny? Or how about the (virtually) unkillable Rasputin? U-T columnist Logan Jenkins — who knows McCormack’s parents personally — likes the latter. He writes that she looked “like a dear person caught in the headlights.” (Yes, “dear.”) “And here we are, waiting with prurient fascination to see how the mayor binds up this bloody wound and fights on.”
• On on one hand, there’s a “shroud of shame” over the city and “we cannot efficiently and effectively run America’s Finest City with this man in office,” City Council President Todd Gloria declared yesterday during a bipartisan press conference with Councilman Kevin Faulconer.
But Faulconer noted that services like pothole repair and trash pickup will continue as usual: “We’re here to reassure San Diegans that the people’s business will be done at City Hall,” KPBS reported.
“Message was ‘city can’t function, but will function normally.’ #absurd,” tweeted liberal activist Andy Cohen.
• Local author Jim Miller is no fan of people who support protecting the identities of the women who say they were mistreated by the mayor. As he wrote for San Diego Free Press, supporting anonymity is “a kind of faux feminism… I believe that you think you are on the side of the angels but justice requires that the women stand up for themselves.”
• Kevin Klein, who worked for Mayor Jerry Sanders and Bonnie Dumanis’ campaign to replace him, thinks Filner should stay and explains himself in a letter to the editor: “In all honesty, the perks of being mayor (and after working in the mayor’s office, I can assert there are many) far outweigh the potential negatives of a drawn-out political scandal and trial.”
Duane Roth in Hospital
We heard early Monday that Connect CEO Duane Roth had been in a terrible bicycle accident. He’s in a medically induced coma at UCSD hospital. Doctors are working to protect his brain. No cars were involved in the crash.
The U-T has the latest. Roth was training with the Challenged Athletes Foundation, which organizes long bike rides to raise money for disabled athletes, many of whom are veterans.
Roth is vice chair of the governing board of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine. He founded Alliance Pharmaceutical. He’s also a Voice of San Diego member and we wish him well.
Yes, Virginia, There Is Other News in Town
• Our special investigation yesterday into emergency response times managed to generate some great questions and Liam Dillon’s been answering them.
• VOSD sports blogger Beau Lynott tracks the great successes of golfer, San Diego native and local resident Phil Mickelson.
• The LA Times has an inside look at the takedown of a Mexican mob boss. It came about with the help of a drug cartel informant who was sick of the brutality of Teodoro “El Teo” Garcia Simental.
• Thirty bright orange bicycles recently appeared on La Jolla streets. Were they part of a town-wide piece of art? A color theory class project? Nope. It’s much less interesting, as Patch.com reports: a new gym called Orangetheory Fitness spread them around to promote itself.
• Whoa nelly.
• For ammunition in an our-city’s-better-than-your-city argument, check Buzzfeed a new list of “27 Reasons San Diego Just Might Be Heaven On Earth.”
• If you’re a fan of TV’s breathtaking “Breaking Bad” show, you know about three guys — Bryan Cranston (the actor), Walter White (the character he plays) and Heisenberg (the character that the character plays). Well, Cranston went to Comic-Con over the weekend with a rather amazing Heisenberg mask and guess what: nobody recognized him, assuming he was just another super-fan.
So you can fool people about your real identity? Good to know. Now if I can just find a T-shirt with this timely if inaccurate message: “Don’t blame me. I’m not from here.”
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.