San Diego political observers have known of Mayor Bob Filner’s tawdry behavior for many years. A not-so-well-kept secret in San Diego or Washington, but dismissed by what one San Diego paper reported was characterized as “Bob being Bob.”
Yesterday was extraordinary for any city. The morning started with a press conference convened by three prominent Democrats, including former City Councilwoman Donna Frye, a populist-liberal-surfer-environmentalist and former candidate for mayor; and Marco Gonzalez, environmental activist attorney and brother of former Labor Council Boss Lorena Gonzalez, now Assemblywoman Gonzalez. They called on Filner to resign in light of unspecified accusations of sexual harassment in an emotional, if vague, press conference. They said they spoke for several women who were victims of his unwanted – and handsy – advances and went so far as to acknowledge that they had long been aware of the behavior but never had the “proof” to act on it. Instead, Donna Frye just went to work in the Filner Administration and unsuccessfully attempted to collect her city pension and a full-time salary while serving as Director of Open Government.
So hypocrisy is not a stranger here.
They were aware of his behavior, campaigned for him, and worked with him as mayor with the knowledge of this behavior and only now have decided to speak out? When their proxy is mired in scandals certain to take him down? That’s when his thrashing about in public and in private becomes distasteful to them?
The Mayor’s response, distributed 1990′s style on a DVD (stations had 10-15 minutes delays to air it because they were having trouble dragging their DVD players out of storage) was that he was sorry, he would apologize to everyone, and he’s seeking sexual harassment counseling from city professionals – the same counseling he is already required to take as a city employee.
Braveheart Democrat Councilman David Alvarez boldly came out to say that if the mayor doesn’t change his behavior, he should resign. Huh? What about all the behavior leading up to this? His serial predatory groping wasn’t enough for you? #stayclassy
And the worst – from a woman no less – was blind Filner faithful Marti Emerald, a councilmember, who called the Mayor “courageous” – that’s right, courageous. For admitting to it. Marti, let me be clear: You are the reason that women don’t come forward when things like this happen because people like you call their abusers courageous. Shame.
But liberal former Assemblywoman Lori Saldana – who actually was bold – said she brought this behavior to the attention of local Democrat leaders years ago. However, those same party leaders said that Filner reassured them that he was a really, really good guy. And then he high-fived them.
Where We Are Today
In the mythical War on Women, Bob Filner has been promoted to General. But he is not resigning and I hold little hope that he has the conscience to do so. First, he isn’t a wealthy man so he needs the income. Second, the City is on the hook for his legal bills – more income. He’s much better off as a disgraced mayor with cash than a disgraced former mayor with no cash.
There is no recall brewing. Recall rules require 15% of the voting population of the prior General Election in a 39 day period – that’s 101,596 valid signatures, which comes to 2,605 per day. No credible Republicans are discussing it and so far, the only movement is from Democrats reaching out to Republicans saying “Hey, get this thing going and we’ll support you.”
What’s most shocking is that this scandal is one of many that just seem to keep blowing up each day. Earlier this week, the Mayor’s fiancé publicly broke up with him. Last week, a voicemail to a council office connected the Mayor to a pay-to-play scheme for $100,000 to reapprove an already approved project. Around the same time he mysteriously disappeared for 6 days and was later discovered in Paris protesting the Iranian regime with security detail in tow and at a cost of many thousands of taxpayer dollars. The week before that he used his personal security detail to physically remove the Deputy City Attorney whom he clashed with from a closed counsel hearing. That same week he cut the City Attorney’s budget – the only budget cut he made budget-wide – by $500,000 and specified which positions (people) were to be eliminated. His Deputy Chief of Staff, Communications Director, and several senior staff have walked out on him; and he is on his 3rd scheduler. Today it is rumored his Chief of Staff is quitting. And there’s rumors of new scandals to come out over the weekend.
Possible Candidates in a Special Election
Nathan Fletcher, narcissist, party-flipper, 3rd place mayoral candidate
Donna Frye, former councilmember, mayoral candidate, and enabler
Todd Gloria, City Council President
Lorena Gonzalez, Assemblywoman (unlikely)
Christine Kehoe, former state legislator and councilmember
Lori Saldana, former Assembywoman
Michael Zucchet, city employee labor boss and former councilmember
Carl DeMaio, former councilmember and candidate for Mayor, current candidate for Congress
Kevin Faulconer, councilmember
Steve Francis, businessman and former mayoral candidate
Herb Morgan, president of the pension board
Things are wild and I expect they are gonna stay wild, with ramifications directly impacting the 2014 elections and defining our politics for years to come.