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KPBS broadcast another stunning interview with an additional four women accusing Mayor Bob Filner of sexual harassment. That brings the count to seven of women who have described in detail their claims of unwanted sexual advances from Filner in recent years. In one account, businesswoman Patti Roscoe claimed to have evaded an unwelcome incoming kiss from Filner. “I turned and he just slobbered down my chin,” she said.
As much as the number and frequency of the claims are flabbergasting, Liam Dillon wrote it’s equally noteworthy that the claims are coming from some of San Diego’s most powerful women. “The quartet included San Diego’s former Navy mayor and a dean at San Diego State University,” Dillon wrote.
Shortly after the interview aired, the San Diego County Democratic called on Filner to resign. It’s been eight months since the city elected its first Democratic mayor in 20 years.
And then late in the evening we learned that Denise Montgomery, the new head of the city’s Commission for Arts and Culture had resigned because she could not in “good conscience” continue working for Mayor Filner. The commission she leads is very influential, delivering millions in grants from hotel tax revenue.
More from Thursday:
- Former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi denounced Filner and Anthony Weiner’s “reprehensible” behavior in a press conference yesterday.
- California Senator Barbara Boxer said that if she was Filner, she’d resign.
- In other Filner-related fallout, three top members of the staff of political advisor Tom Shepard’s company Public Policy Strategies resigned “amid controversy over [Shepard’s] assisting embattled Mayor Bob Filner,” NBC 7 San Diego reported.
- After the staff resigned, Shepard released a statement saying he had already cut ties with Filner on Monday.
- U-T San Diego ponders the incredible question of whether women should be allowed to meet privately with Filner.
Filner made two appearances yesterday and was hounded by throngs of journalists the entire time. He mostly refused to answer questions until he finally made a statement where he expressed his desire for an official process to judge the accusations. “There are allegations and allegations of allegations,” Filner said. “I’d like the city to take a deep breath.”
Presumably he meant one other than the gasps of horror.
Busby’s Conflicts Come Fore
Until recently, a couple of prominent San Diegans were gearing up to run against Lorie Zapf in the newly reconfigured Council District 2 along the coast. Lifeguard Sgt. Ed Harris and Sarah Boot were both planning campaigns as Democrat challengers to Zapf until, suddenly, Harris dropped out.
Unbeknownst to Harris, San Diego County Democratic Party Chairwoman Francine Busby had been working in the background to undermine Harris’ campaign in favor of Boot because of unspecified “sexual harassment issues.” She cited nothing but a sexual discrimination lawsuit the city had dealt with in which Harris had not at all been involved.
Our Sara Libby obtained an email Busby sent trying to torpedo Harris’ hopes and explored the conflicts Busby was trying to balance while she directs Run Women Run and the local Democratic Party.
Emergency Response Investigation Prompts Questions
We recently began investigating long emergency response times in San Diego. It turns out that emergency crews routinely arrive “late” to high-priority emergencies, especially in poorer neighborhoods. Our readers rose up with a host of good questions, like, why are there still late responses to emergencies that happen in the neighborhood around a fire station?
Community members and leaders also wrote in with their thoughts about emergency response times. Bill Bradshaw urged everyone to get CPR training. Omar Passons wants new priorities for the city. “This is why infrastructure can’t just be about potholes and slurry seals and parks.” We’re also still interested in your questions, so keep them coming within your comments and letters.
Tourism Drama Returns, With Layoffs
For months we watched a drama play out between the Tourism Marketing District and Filner over whether the mayor would release the funds from a 2 percent hotel room tax the city levies for the district. Filner wanted a sweeter deal from the district.
The city now requires hotels to sign a waiver that clears the city from any financial risk should that tax be deemed illegal as a lawsuit plays out. The tax was imposed without a vote of the people and even the city attorney said there was a substantial risk it might be thrown out. “But the money [collected by hotels that haven’t signed the waiver] won’t be released to the Tourism Marketing District,” we reported. So far, only 34 of 200 hotels have signed the waivers.
Putting Innovative Heads Together
On Wednesday we hosted an event that brought together nearly 100 readers and thinkers to talk about innovation in San Diego and what obstacles the city faces in fostering more innovative people and businesses. Our Kelly Bennett took the lead with UC San Diego sociologist Mary Walshok and entrepreneurs Joseph Jackson and Melani Gordon taking questions and giving their insights. For those who couldn’t attend, Bennett summarized the conversation’s highlights.
- Libby Webber offers a retrospective of this year’s ComicCon, with tips and thoughts for those considering attending next year.
- Bridgepoint, a local for-profit education company, was subpoenaed for records in January. It said no. California Attorney General Kamala Harris yesterday asked the courts to enforce the subpoena.
- Santee will use “eminent domain” to force private property owners to give up their land so Santee can widen a road.
- U-T San Diego owners Doug Manchester and John Lynch might buy the Boston Globe today.
Some Hopeful News
Recently there have been two accidents involving public figures that we’ve mentioned. One is Duane Roth, CEO of Connect, a San Diego nonprofit organization that supports technology innovation and entrepreneurship. Roth was seriously injured in a bicycle accident earlier this week. The other is John McCann, a Sweetwater Union High School District board member who was seriously injured in a car accident earlier in the week.
Roth made it through an important surgery and is “headed in the right direction,” according to his brother. McCann suffered brain trauma and is responding, but his prognosis is still unknown. We wish them both a full and speedy recovery!