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Stormy Weather For San Diego Mayor

UPDATE 2:24 p.m. PST: Assembly Majority Leader Toni Atkins has called on Filner to "either come forward and declare his innocence or resign immediately."

In a written statement released Friday, she said "I hope Mayor Filner is sincere about and successful in his personal efforts to improve his attitudes and behavior, but again, I do not think he can continue to serve as mayor."

UPDATE 12:20 p.m. PST: In an interview with the U-T San Diego, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez called on Filner to resign as mayor.

UPDATE 9:25 a.m. PST: Marco Gonzalez tweeted this morning: "Frye, Gonzalez, and Briggs stand by original demand, video notwithstanding. Additional information to be provided next week."

Aired 7/12/13 on KPBS News.

Mayor Bob Filner will not resign, but he will get help according to a videotaped statement released Thursday. Will that be enough to satisfy those who charge him with sexual harassment?

The day started with a mob of reporters in a packed parking lot under a threatening sky, but when the storm came, it wasn’t in the form of rain; Donna Frye, a former city council member and longtime supporter of Mayor Bob Filner, looked visibly shaken as she addressed the crowd.

Former Councilwoman Donna Frye speaks at a press conference calling for Mayor Bob Filner's resignation, July 11, 2013.

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.

“When I received credible evidence first hand evidence of more than one woman being sexually harassed I could not not act. I believe what they have told me and they need to know that they are not alone," she said. "There are people who support and care about them. I did not make this request lightly, it was one of the hardest decisions I have ever made.“

Hours later, in a prepared statement, Filner addressed her comments.

"When a friend like Donna Frye is compelled to call for my resignation, I’m clearly doing something wrong," he said.

Filner’s response came on a pre-taped DVD released to reporters in a somewhat haphazard way, but there the Mayor was, staring into the camera, asking for forgiveness.

"...I have reached into my heart and soul and realized I can and should change my behavior," he said.

His emotional epiphany was not accompanied by a resignation letter and his apology stopped short of admitting he was guilty of the kind of sexual harassment to which Frye alluded. The mayor said he took ownership for not “fully respecting” and for “intimidating” the women he worked with. He blamed his own behavior, in part, on changing cultural mores.

"It’s a good thing that behavior that would have been tolerated in the past is being called out in this generation for what it is: inappropriate and wrong," he said.

In other words, we don’t live in a “mad men” world anymore, but will this be enough for the former supporters who have asked him to step down?

Marco Gonzalez is a lawyer; he’s representing the unnamed and unspecified number of women in this case. He said the ball is in Filner's court.

"What happens if he doesn’t resign? Well, like I said the Mayor is in charge of the script and the next chapter will largely be defined by his response," he said.

Now that the mayor has laid the groundwork for the next chapter in this unfolding saga, Gonzalez said he is meeting with the women and later Friday he will announce the next steps. He won’t say if things will reach a legal boiling point.

"We also recognize the potential harm that will come to San Diego if this becomes something much bigger and if this becomes lawsuits," he said. "That isn’t to say that my clients or that others won’t file lawsuits at some point, but at this point I think what’s best for the community is for the mayor to hear our pleas and respond appropriately."

According to Gonzalez, that appropriate response is a resignation letter, which still remains unwritten.

Political scientist Carl Luna said at this point, the only court Filner is being tried in is court of public opinion.

"It's not a legal process, this is a political process, a personal process too in which you want to see social justice, but if the public becomes convinced that the mayor — that he has lost their faith and confidence, I don’t see how he can easily restore that," Luna said.

Filner has looked into the eyes of San Diegans and said “I need help.” Whether or not that is enough to lift the storm clouds that are hovering around him is still uncertain. Equally uncertain is exactly what Filner did and what of what he will stand accused.

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Avatar for user 'PrdParent'

PrdParent | July 12, 2013 at 8:05 a.m. ― 3 years, 8 months ago

Question for those smarter than me- this will likely end up costing in the tens of millions of dollars in legal and settlement costs. Who's legally liable for these, the City of San Diego or Mayor Filner? I'm guessing the City will be the target, and if so, can the City then go after the Mayor to try to recover some of our costs?


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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | July 12, 2013 at 8:46 a.m. ― 3 years, 8 months ago

This whole thing is getting really annoying.

I'm not excusing the mayor's indiscretions (hell, I don't even know what they are yet because both sides are being extremely vague) but I know one thing - this lawyer Marco Gonzalez is really, really annoying.

He is an UNELECTED LAWYER who has APPOINTED HIMSELF to represent the people of San Diego?

If he has clients who want to personally sue Mayor Filner or the city that's one thing, but he has gone beyond this and anointed himself "in charge" of this whole thing, encouraging the mayor to resign, something the people should really be deciding.

I respect Donna Frye. She has been an elected official, she was part of the Filner campaign and part of his administration. She does have the credibility to call on our mayor to resign, but some random hack environmental lawyer? No thank you.

And why are San Diegans willing to roll-over and let this guy be the spokesperson for we, the people and why are we letting HIM decide whether or not OUR mayor should resign or not?

The guy is a known hack. He determined fireworks were dangerous to our environment, something I actually agree with. So, he sued to get them banned from downtown and La Jolla, but he left San Diego's BIGGEST and MOST FREQUENT fireworks display completely alone in his attacks - the ones at Sea World.

If his first priority is the environment, wouldn't he have tried banning fireworks at the biggest source of fireworks pollution?

Anyway, as we see now with the Filner Debacle this attorney is about 1% environment and about 99% power-hungry politico.

The PEOPLE need to tell this guy to back-off as he is an unelected hack.

And Frye needs to stand on her own to feet and speak without attaching herself to fame-seeking attorneys.

Ms. Frye, you are a lovely woman, you have done a lot for San Diego, YOU are the reason I believe Filner is truly shaken by this because like many San Diegan's, he respects you a great deal. Do yourself a favor, keep your solid reputation amongst the people of San Diego in-tact and step away from the media whore lawyers.

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Avatar for user 'BarryJohn'

BarryJohn | July 12, 2013 at 1:41 p.m. ― 3 years, 8 months ago

Filner seems to be self admitting to being a serial sexual harasser after he was apparently confronted with evidence by Marco, Frye, Briggs et al - serial sexual harassment would normally be a fire-able offense for any other city agent - this case seems worse because the higher up the chain, the more people are intimidated, the more they feel they cant go to HR etc- so the higher in the chain the greater the accountability- I am a Dem and I want him out - The Mayors Office should be a safe place for anyones daughter to work - Filner in self admitting, likely knows what evidence is stacked up against him he is just now trying to control the outcome - would other self admitting serial harassers be able to dodge firing by saying I will go to counseling and training or would that option only be reserved for less serious or one time offenses? sexual harassment is about abuse of power - he seems to demonstrate this on other fronts, showing a general narcissism, which is usually an engrained personality trait - I hope Marco et al don't hold back whatever evidence they have for too long and just get this over with.

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Avatar for user 'muckapoo1'

muckapoo1 | July 12, 2013 at 1:50 p.m. ― 3 years, 8 months ago

Is there really help for a 70 year old sexual harasser? C'mon, if he has this little moral compass at this age, there is no way to change him during the length of his term. We will have to assign a police officer by his side whenever he goes into public. This guy is done. Time to quit Bob !!!!!!!!

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Avatar for user 'SweetSpot'

SweetSpot | July 12, 2013 at 3:31 p.m. ― 3 years, 8 months ago

@Peking_Duck_SD The reason Gonzalez' opinion is relevant is because he's been a VERY close advisor and associate to the mayor and a staunch supporter as well. He's not telling the people what to do, he's calling on the Mayor to resign because his (and others') attempts at intervention with the Mayor have failed. He's doing a service by letting us know what's happening behind the green curtain of City Hall secreted rumors. The only criticism I have of Gonzalez is that he let this go on as long as he did before making it public. Maybe there are women who would not have been "intimidated" if he'd spoken up sooner. I also think he and Frye and others were probably trying to get out ahead of a story that Filner's Republican opponents are no doubt aware of and probably were intending to use for their own political purposes at some strategic time in the future. I'm a staunch Democrat and support most of Filner's policy positions. But I agree with others who believe that were this a cop or a low level city employee, they would have been suspended w/o pay or fired by now. Laws were broken. Filner has admitted as much. Justice should be applied equally no matter who broke the laws.

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Avatar for user 'HarryStreet'

HarryStreet | July 12, 2013 at 5:03 p.m. ― 3 years, 8 months ago

Until the accusers come forward and put their names and faces to the cameras all we have are politicians and lawyers asking for Filner to resign. Considering their firepower and standing, I believe Filner is probably guilty. We live in a day and age where perception is reality, and the reality here is when your own party and friends are calling on you to resign---ballgame over!

Another reality is how it's in Filner's best interest to stay in office and fight any possible charges. This way he won't have to cough up payment for legal bills. As mayor, we the taxpayer would foot the bill. And attorney general Jan Goldsmith will have to defend him. Wouldn't that be something?!

We've all probably seen persons mistreated in the workplace as well as harassed. We've also seen nothing done to the guilty when the accusers do not come forward, as is the case here. All we've heard from are from friends and supporters of Filner callinig for him to resign. Personally I think he's guilty, but until the victims come forward these accusations are legally baseless.

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