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City Attorneys Warn Mayor’s Chief Of Staff

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- San Diego's city attorneys have warned Mayor Bob Filner's chief of staff to stop questioning mayor's office employees about the sexual harassment allegations against Filner.

Assistant City Attorney Paul Cooper tells Chief of Staff Lee Burdick that her quizzing of the staff is inappropriate and is interfering with the work of city attorneys, according to a memo sent Thursday and obtained by U-T San Diego.

Special Feature Read the Backstory

All of the accusations, statements and apologies from the key players in the developing story about allegations of sexual harassment in Mayor Bob Filner's office and calls from former mayoral supporters for his resignation.

The memo also calls on Burdick to hand over certain documents that she has been withholding, citing attorney-client privilege.

"Your inappropriate use of this non-existent privilege now places the city in the untenable position of not being able to carry out its legal obligations therefore subjecting the city to potential liability," the memo said.

While Burdick is an attorney, the memo goes on to explain that the only attorney that serves the city of San Diego is the city attorney, and Burdick will be sued if she doesn't comply.

The memo tells Burdick, "you are a witness in this litigation, not an attorney." The word "witness" is underlined.

Calls seeking comment from the mayor's office were not returned.

Filner is facing allegations of unwanted advances from at least eight women, including his former communications director, Irene McCormack Jackson, who filed a lawsuit July 22 against the mayor and the city. In the lawsuit, McCormack alleges Filner asked Jackson to work without panties, demanded kisses, told her he wanted to see her naked, and dragged her in a headlock while whispering in her ear.

Earlier this week, the City Council voted unanimously to sue Filner to require him to pay for any damages or attorney fees out of his own pocket if the city is held liable. It also moved to deny Filner funds for his legal defense.

Filner's attorney Harvey Berger had argued in a letter to the city attorney that the city should pay the mayor's legal fees because it didn't provide him with state-required sexual harassment training.

Berger said the city's trainer canceled the session and did not reschedule, but a former Filner staffer contradicted that Thursday.

Jay Goldstone, Filner's interim chief operating officer, said it was the mayor, not a city trainer, who canceled the training briefing.

Berger did not immediately return an after-hours message seeking comment.

Filner, who is 70 and divorced, has pledged to enter two weeks of "intensive" therapy Aug. 5, defying calls from his own party leaders to resign. The former 10-term congressman is less than eight months into a four-year term. He is San Diego's first Democratic mayor in 20 years.

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Avatar for user 'David Lucero'

David Lucero | August 2, 2013 at 7:30 a.m. ― 3 years, 7 months ago

This should be no surprise coming from Filner's camp. He is a man who will stop at nothing to protect himself. He knows his reputation will forever be tarnished by this, so now his main goal is to protect his finances. If our city loses, and the evidence clearly indicates we will, San Diegans should not have to foot the bill. We do not, nor have we ever, expected a person holding the office of mayor to behave as Filner has. He and he alone is responsible for his actions and should thus be held financially liable.

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Avatar for user 'jptrugger'

jptrugger | August 2, 2013 at 8:46 a.m. ― 3 years, 7 months ago

"Filner, who is 70 and divorced" - for the record, he is divorced twice, and was engaged to get married for a 3rd time. Maybe it is time for Bob to think about just being single for a while / the rest of his life? LOL

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Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | August 2, 2013 at 11:37 a.m. ― 3 years, 7 months ago

The memo tells Burdick, "you are a witness in this litigation, not an attorney." The word "witness" is underlined.

...Burdick will be sued if she doesn't comply.


So it looks like Filner has a new best friend. Two peas in a pod.

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Avatar for user 'DonWood'

DonWood | August 2, 2013 at 12:24 p.m. ― 3 years, 7 months ago

Funny how every memo from the city attorney's office gets leaked to UT reporters. You'd think that Goldsmith was leaking all these documents as part of a campaign against the mayor, who he supposedly represents. The office seems to leak like a sieve, primarily to the UT and other right wing media outlets who may support Goldsmith's upcoming campaign for the mayor's office.

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Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | August 2, 2013 at 12:33 p.m. ― 3 years, 7 months ago


The memo was sent to Burdick and the entire City Council. It wasn't leaked.

The tiny handful of Filner supporters still out there will do anything to keep this terrible politician in office. I guess they're blindly driven by money, power, and greed.

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Avatar for user 'jptrugger'

jptrugger | August 2, 2013 at 1:48 p.m. ― 3 years, 7 months ago

You have to wonder what kind of deals Filner is brokering with his remaining staff to stay on board. Especially the female contingent, how could any self-respecting woman with the remotest chance of other employment opportunities not be jumping ship? Aside from the public info about the directors who have left, are there any other indications of general staff turnover in that office?

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Avatar for user 'Roberto Rolando Salinas'

Roberto Rolando Salinas | August 2, 2013 at 3:17 p.m. ― 3 years, 7 months ago

You people should chill and stop piling on. Ever heard that a person is innocent until proven guilty, have any of you seen any criminal complaint filed with law enforcement authorities? Of course you haven't, put your knives away until a criminal court of law and a jury of his peers finds him quility. I hope Filner fights and wins, and then all of you and the rest and the alleged media can really go into convulsions. Fight on Bob, give them hell.

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Avatar for user 'MarineRoom'

MarineRoom | August 2, 2013 at 3:26 p.m. ― 3 years, 7 months ago


I am sure that those leaks going to the same sources every time is merely a coincidence. What else could it be?

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Avatar for user 'MarineRoom'

MarineRoom | August 2, 2013 at 3:29 p.m. ― 3 years, 7 months ago


I am so sorry, I don't think you learned the phrase correctly. Here in San Diego the proper saying is "innocent until you get in the way."

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