Tuesday, August 13, 2013
SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Embattled San Diego Mayor Bob Filner touted his accomplishments in office over the past eight months in response to a recall effort seeking to strip him of his job.
Filner's comments were part of a formal response he filed with the City Clerk's Office late Monday night. The one-page response made no mention of the sexual harassment allegations against the mayor or the accusations that he has shaken down developers for donations.
"Now is not the time to go backwards -- back to the time when middle-class jobs and neighborhood infrastructure were sacrificed to downtown special interest,'' Filner wrote. "We need to continue to move forward!''
Filner went on to write about his efforts to improve Balboa Park, make neighborhoods more accessible to bicyclists and pedestrians, and San Diego's recently reached five-year labor agreement with city employees.
Organizers of the recall effort said they will publish the response even though it wasn't turned into the official recall committee and was not signed by Filner, as required.
"Mayor Bob Filner obviously believes his policy initiatives excuse his being a sexual predator,'' said recall organizer Mike Pallmary. "His reply is unacceptable. San Diegans want a mayor that doesn't grope and demean women, who doesn't abuse his office to satisfy a perverted quest for a sense of power, and who has the ability to lead our great city -- an ability Filner can never, ever reclaim.''
He predicted residents of San Diego will move the city "beyond the great shame our mayor has brought'' and recall him from office.
City Council President Todd Gloria said the mayor's response shows that "he just doesn't get it.''
"He does not address the serious claims against him and instead provides a laundry list of proposals that cannot be accomplished because he refuses to resign,'' Gloria said.
The councilman, who represents downtown San Diego, Hillcrest and North Park, said he shares a progressive vision that puts neighborhoods first, and agrees this is not the time to move backward.
"The truth is, the only way we can move forward is for Bob Filner to resign,'' Gloria said.
Recall organizers must collect nearly 102,000 valid signatures and submit them to the City Clerk's Office by Sept. 26.
This week, they launched recallbobfilner.com. The website was created after a group of area political consultants joined the recall effort, which previously had been run by Pallamary, who is a land-use consultant, homemaker Elisa Brent and newspaper publisher Stampp Corbin.
The new site has three pages -- a home page, a page for donations and one for volunteer information.
Pallamary said thousands of dollars of donations have come in over the past few days, averaging around $150.
According to Pallamary, the biggest job has been to coordinate volunteers because support from the community has been "overwhelming.''
The website gives the Navajo Road office address of April Boling, who agreed last week to serve as the campaign's treasurer. Boling has served for years as treasurer of campaigns by Republican candidates.
Public relations executive John Hoy and fundraiser Jean Freelove -- who helped qualify a pension reform initiative for the June 2012 ballot -- also joined the campaign, along with Rachel Laing, who will help with communications.
Filner has been accused by 14 women of sexually harassment ranging from unwanted advances to groping and kissing. He has apologized for mistreating women and sought treatment at a behavioral treatment center, but has denied that his actions constitute sexual harassment.
The list of alleged victims includes two municipal employees, one of whom is being represented by Los Angeles women's rights attorney Gloria Allred and has sued Filner and the city, and two women who said Filner made passes at them last year at a meeting of veterans who were raped in the military. One of the complainants is a retired rear admiral.
All nine members of the City Council, both of California's senators and other local civic and business leaders have called for the mayor to step down immediately. He has refused.
In addition to sexual harassment, Filner has been accused of shaking down developers. According to U-T San Diego, a subpoena has been issued to Lee Burdick, Filner's chief of staff, to have her testify under oath and provide her notes about issues involving Sunroad Centrum Partners, a developer that paid $100,000 to the city -- allegedly at the behest of Filner -- before its project was approved. The investigation is being conducted by the FBI.