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Allegations Against Filner Reach National Stage

As sexual harassment allegations continue to plague the office of San Diego Mayor Bob Filner, local leaders and national pundits are forming their opinions on the story.

Some are satirical. Others are sarcastic. Many are speculative.

The Colbert Report included the developing story about sexual harassment allegations against Mayor Bob Filner in its July 18 show.

We've rounded up some of them, starting with the one that has lots of residents thinking "Hey, San Diego! We're famous!"

The Colbert Report, a satirical news show that is often pointed to as part of the late-night Comedy Central programming that gives most Millennials their news, included the Filner saga in its Thursday night show.

"See? This man reaches into hearts and souls. And it's not his fault if sometimes there are t---ies in the way," Colbert said after rolling footage of Filner's statement that he has "reached into his heart and soul" and will change his behavior.

Even local radio station KOGO jumped on the satire bandwagon by releasing a "PSA" ahead of Comic-Con meant to welcome tourists to the city but also warn them that San Diego has a "serial hugger on the loose" and that if someone attempts to grab them, it's not a man in a mask, but rather the mayor himself.

Residents of the city have also created memes and started using hashtags on Twitter such as #filnerheadlock and #filnerdance in reference to the terms some who have worked with Filner created to describe how he puts himself in situations with women and allegedly harasses them.

Columnists from outlets across San Diego and the Southern California region have weighed in with less humor.

The Los Angeles Times's Robin Abcarian wrote Thursday that the allegations against Filner are not only damaging to the mayor, and if true, to the lives of the women leveling them. They are damaging to the city itself, she wrote.

"After waiting 20 years for a Democratic mayor, San Diego liberals finally get a guy whose heart is in the right place, but whose hands can't stay still," she wrote. "I guess I wouldn't expect a guy like Filner to go down without a fight. Looks like California's most temperate city is in for a long, hot summer."

San Diego City Beat's John Lamb wrote in his column, Spin Cycle, that he couldn't decide whether to punch the mayor or put him in a "Filner Headlock of appreciation" for his accomplishments, among them clearing Balboa Park's Plaza de Panama of cars.

"The anonymous descriptions of Filner's dark side with regards to women, however, has shattered that feeling of accomplishment on the policy side," Lamb wrote.

National coverage of the story includes articles in the Washington Post, Politico and NPR, among others.

Voice of San Diego contributor Randy Dotinga on Friday chimed in with his opinion on the national coverage of the Filner story and how many reports are missing important things "like the facts," he wrote.

"Here are a few: This isn't a sex scandal, at least by our definition. Our mayors aren't always in a big fat pile of trouble (although some of them certainly have been). Also: Some out-of-towners seem to think Filner will quit. Now isn't that adorable?"

The national stage, for the facts it may be missing, has its opinions, too.

Jessica Wakeman wrote on The Frisky, a blog with a mostly female readership, that "Filner publicly admitted he needs help. He should go get it."

"A mayor who has allegedly sexually harassed at least two of his own constituents, to say nothing of his own employee — and had admitted to behaving inappropriately — has no business remaining in a position of power. It's almost laughable that he thinks otherwise," Wakeman wrote.

Jezebel, also a blog with primarily female readers, snarkily commented on the mayor's statement that he hadn't sexually harassed anyone and that he is "a hugger."

"Oh, hugging; is that what we're calling it now? He added, 'There is a difference between someone who is tough to work for...and sexual harassment.' Not if the reason someone is 'tough to work for' is because they sexually harass you, there's not," wrote Callie Beusman.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | July 20, 2013 at 2:42 a.m. ― 3 years, 7 months ago

Donna Frye and her angry public rants, the INCOMPETNT lawyers and their lack of tangible evidence, the overtly partisan police department opening up a stupid and DESERATE "hotline" - all these folks are actually ELEVATING Filner to a national counter-culture hero, and they don't even realize it.

If our city leaders - the parasitic lawyers, the cow-town city council, the "trust me, you need no tangible evidence" dopes keep up thir stupidity, Filner will become a folk hero - Donna frye and the idiot lawyers are creating a national folk hero with their sheer incompetence.

Filner is winning. He's guilty of sexual harassment, but he's winning. And the peope of "importance" in our fair city are too stupid to realize it.

Filner has achieved way more than he ever could have simply being mayor of San Diego - he's an international sensation now. I'd say he and his advisors planned this, but I can't give them that much credit!!

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Avatar for user 'Mmikey'

Mmikey | July 20, 2013 at 7:41 a.m. ― 3 years, 7 months ago

will this cost san diego the title of "finest city" ?

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Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | July 20, 2013 at 8:46 a.m. ― 3 years, 7 months ago

Perhaps we can replace it with "huggiest city"?

Is there a point in this argument where the mayor becomes so bogged down in this fight that he is ineffective and cannot manage the city? If so, how far are we from that point?

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Avatar for user 'Mmikey'

Mmikey | July 20, 2013 at 9:26 a.m. ― 3 years, 7 months ago

It looks like things have passed the point of no return.

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Avatar for user 'HarryStreet'

HarryStreet | July 20, 2013 at 11:14 a.m. ― 3 years, 7 months ago

As of late Friday July 19 the 'alleged victims' have not filed formal charges of sexual harassment against Bob Filner. California State law allows accusers to remain anonymous and we understand why. However, if they have credible evidence they need to file charges with their lawyer. Otherwise these accusations are hearsay, nothing more.

I believe Filner is likely guilty of the charges. He admitted mistreating persons around him, including bullying and intimidating. This behavior likely led to him sexually assaulting women by groping and kissing them. He figured he was untouchable, never lost a political race, and the person who all San Diegans wanted for the job of mayor.

If he resigns he knows he'll have to fight the charges on his own dime and time as a civilian. If he fights them as mayor it'll be up to the city attorney general to defend him, and what a circus that will be. All this at our expense.

I am disappointed in Donna Frye, Lorena Gonzalez, Todd Gloria, and other supporters of Filner. They've known Bob Filner for years and Donna admitted his actions have been known by people around him for years, too. Does Donna Frye exclude herself from this group? Lorena Gonzalez has been involved in political activities with Bob Filner for years as well. I recall how she and Filner were arrested while pushing for better union contracts for workers at Del Mar. Is all this inappropriate behavior only now coming to her attention?

These type questions will overshadow any search for justice for the 'alleged' victims, who will remain 'alleged' until formal charges are brought forward, and their cases heard in court. If they are delaying filing charges while putting together their case, I'm okay with that. But if they are delaying because they have nothing more than their word against Filner, you needn't bother to file anything at all. No one will find Filner guilty of harassment without actual 'proof.' Proof as in photographs, witnesses, signed statements, confessions, physical evidence of assault, etc. Can you imagine if Filner was to be found guilty without credible evidence and removed from office? The same action could happen to any one of us despite innocence or guilt.

The honorable thing for Filner to do would be to resign. For financial and legal protection, that is not on the table. He's challenging the accusers to come forward because he (Filner) knows there is no credible evidence. There are no records with the police of any assault in any form against Bob Filner. This makes him (Filner) not only presumed innocent until found guilty, but just plain innocent.

The only victory the accusers will have is the knowledge Bob Filner's legacy will be tarnished with scandalous, and unfounded sexual harassment charges that crippled his ability to lead the city. Nothing will get done, and what little that does the credit will be directed to someone other than Filner.

Oh yeah! This is how it's going to play out.

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Avatar for user 'Pat Finn'

Pat Finn, KPBS Staff | July 20, 2013 at 2:34 p.m. ― 3 years, 7 months ago

Meanwhile, back on topic, Gail Collins devoted her column in today's New York Times to San Diego's troubles. Collins pointed her rapier at the mayor and skewered Congress in the bargain, quoting UCSD's Steve Erie and Assembly Member Lorena Gonzalez. Collins characterizes the current mess as a "sex scandal," but she ends the article by calling our mayor a "sexual predator."

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Avatar for user 'laplayaheritage'

laplayaheritage | July 20, 2013 at 5:16 p.m. ― 3 years, 7 months ago

Thursday before the Rally for Due Process for the mayor, I went to the Neil Good Day Center in downtown and asked if any Homeless wanted to attend the Rally to support Mayor Filner.

The Homeless are under the impression that he committed Rape, sexual assault, and sexual battery on several women. In many people's eyes he abused women at work, and used power for sex.

Meanwhile Homeless San Diegans are getting beat up and are unsafe.

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Avatar for user 'MarineRoom'

MarineRoom | July 20, 2013 at 5:21 p.m. ― 3 years, 7 months ago


I too find the Hotline an intriguing development. I think I will call the hotline and complain that the mayor refused to make eye contact with me when I attended his campaign debates! Isn't ignoring someone a form of abuse?

In regard to the national coverage, I agree with the quoted Randy Dotinga that their stories are conspicuously missing the facts. The NYT article that a friend in SF sent us seemed to have cut and pasted much of its information from the UT! A bit surprising, but I guess other people's controversies are mostly mined for their entertainment value rather than factual content.

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Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | July 21, 2013 at 4:59 p.m. ― 3 years, 7 months ago

Filner is "a sexual predator who made female workers feel demeaned, uncomfortable and frightened." -New York Times


Filner has been lampooned by Colbert, is the butt of jokes nationwide, and the "Filner Headlock" is now part of the national lexicon.

But there is one big difference between Filner and the sex scandals from Clinton, Spitzer, Weiner, Petraeus, etc. They were all consensual. Filner's attacks were not and that makes the New York Times labeling him a "sexual predator" correct.

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | July 22, 2013 at 12:12 p.m. ― 3 years, 7 months ago

CA offender has appointed himself judge, jury and executioner.

And ironically, has fallen for the very thing he disdains--our growing Politically Correct lexicon. Ah, but since the person involved is a Liberal Democrat we can put aside all pettiness for the moment.

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | July 22, 2013 at 12:16 p.m. ― 3 years, 7 months ago

Pot kettle black much?

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