The City Council’s vote not to fund Mayor Bob Filner’s defense sets an uncomfortable precedent. This precedent should cause concern for all city employees and members of community advisory groups. Essentially the council acted as judge and jury in denying Filner defense money. The way the city’s indemnity program was explained to me, the city provides funds for those under its umbrella that are accused of malfeasance or worse. If the person is subsequently found guilty, he or she must pay the money back to the city.
Recall that City Councilman Scott Peters and some of his council colleagues were allowed to hire outside legal counsel when they were under federal scrutiny; $600,000 was the alleged amount by Peters alone. But the council has canceled Filner’s city indemnity. If a city employee or community group advisor can have his or her indemnity canceled by a vote of the council, this employee has very little insurance against false accusations. A consistent policy should count for something.