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Roundtable: Mayor Filner’s Bad Week, Part II

KPBS Roundtable

Filner II Roundtable

KPBS Roundtable

Mayor Filner's Bad Week


Mark Sauer


Scott Lewis, CEO, Voice of San Diego

JW August, 10News

Sandhya Dirks, KPBS News

KPBS Roundtable airs on Fridays at 12:30 p.m. on KPBS Radio and at 8:30 p.m. on KPBS Television. It airs again on Sundays at 10:30 a.m. on KPBS Television.

The Accusations

This week, the details of accusations of sexual harassment against the mayor got more specific. If true, some may amount to sexual battery.

In the face of those accusations, last night's meeting of the San Diego County Democratic Central Committee saw a party evenly divided between those who wanted the mayor to resign and those who asked for due process to be played out.

Though more detailed, the accusations thus far do not include crucial details like names and dates or complaints filed with authorities.

On Monday, former San Diego City Councilwoman Donna Frye and attorney Marco Gonzalez held a press conference where they spoke of three women who they said received unwanted sexual attention from the mayor: a constituent, a campaign volunteer and a city employee. Frye and Gonzalez said the mayor would corner these women and then kiss or grope them while they tried to get away.

As a result of Monday’s press conference, the terms “Filner Dance” and “Filner Headlock” made their way into the local lexicon, and the public saw the rare site of a very angry Donna Frye. Elsewhere, 10News reporter Mitch Blacher interviewed a woman who lobbied then-Congressman Filner on behalf of the California Association of Realtors. Her story was similar to those told by Gonzalez and Frye. She, also, was unidentified.

The Statements

In Mayor Filner’s first statement to the media, delivered to the press on DVD the day after the accusations were made public, he acknowledged he had behaved badly, had intimidated some of his staff and needed help.

The next day, there was none of that. Filner said he was the elected mayor, would not resign and would be vindicated by a fair and impartial investigation.

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.

In an interview with KUSI, he said he was a "hugger" and demonstrative, both toward men and women. To a Univision reporter, he said the entire situation was brought about because of his own “human frailties” and that the "monster was inside him."

In addition to the mayor, local political figures added their own statements to the mix, including calls for his resignation from Susan Davis, Scott Peters, Toni Atkins, Todd Gloria, Lorena Gonzalez and Kevin Faulconer, among others. Former Assembly Member Lori Saldana, however, said the accusations have not met the burden of criminal proof and Filner should stay put.

The Politics

It’s reasonable to assume San Diego’s notoriously micromanaging mayor is a bit distracted these days fending off allegations of sexual harassment, investigations by local media and calls for his resignation. But new accusations and questions continue to pop up, and the mayor finds himself engaged in a high-stakes game of whack-a-mole.

The mayor lost several high-profile staff members before and during this scandal, including Deputy Chief of Staff Allen Jones, Chief of Staff Vince Hall and Communications Director Irene McCormack. So who’s running the store down at city hall?

Walt Ekard, San Diego County’s former chief administrator, has taken over as the city’s interim chief operating officer. Ekard has apparently been given the power to approve city contracts, give orders to employees and select top management officials.

Some are asking whether the business community's support for Ekard’s appointment amounts to de facto support for Filner. Scott Lewis notes that Ekard's appointment is an integral part of political consultant Tom Shepard’s attempt to mount a Filner comeback.

Meanwhile, a recall effort is underway.

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Avatar for user 'philosopher3000'

philosopher3000 | July 19, 2013 at 1 p.m. ― 3 years, 7 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

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Avatar for user 'Lippy'

Lippy | July 19, 2013 at 2:34 p.m. ― 3 years, 7 months ago

Thank you for removing the previous comment. Allegations of Filner's sexual harassment have been made, and investigated, for several years. That the allegations never amounted to anything in the past leads me to wonder why now? And why more of the same? I am not a Filner apologist, nor do I have a stake in Filner's retention as our mayor. However, I am devoted to due process and constitutional principles of "innocent until proven guilty" and "burden of proof." If women have been violated, they must identify themselves and say how, when and where. If they are unwilling to do that, then they should suffer in silence, because it is simply not fair under our system of government to make anonymous accusations, particularly of this magnitude and impact. If we allow politics to undermine fundamental fairness, then we do ourselves a terrible disservice. San Diego's citizens, from the tippy top of government and socio-economic status to the most down-trodden, need to pull their heads out of the sand and start acting like they live in the huge metropolis that is the greater San Diego area.

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Avatar for user 'Frankie'

Frankie | July 19, 2013 at 4:43 p.m. ― 3 years, 7 months ago

KPBS staff today actually suggested that concern about "due process" was a campaign consultant's political strategy?

Among many shocking aspects of the Donna Frye/Cory Briggs/Marco Gonzalez double-whammy brought against Mayor Filner in the public square, the absence of due process was first and foremost in the minds of most people who observed that trio's attemptto force the Mayor to resign.

"Due process"is a constitutional guarantee to citizens in this country to be thought innocent until proven guilty, to be able to face their accusers and to mount a defense against charges brought against them. Not one of these elements is present in what has unfolded this week for Mayor Bob Filner.

KPBS seems to join the drumbeat for the Mayor to step down without saying so directly. You repeat old stories when there's nothing new to tell, as when Thursday's report concerning political crisis management -- using the Mayor's situation as its centerpiece -- was repeated word-for-word today, Friday.You insult listeners' intelligence when your main crisis management "expert," of two chosen for this piece, turned out to be Carl de Maio's campaign consultant!

Also, today you replayed -- how many times has it been? --an edited version of the Mayor's Univision interview. How much mileage can you get out of one "monster within" quote? When I watched the entire Univision video, it seemed to me that comment was only one part of a chastened Mayor's personal awakening to the sadness and seriousness of his situation, as well as testament to his intention to
carry on his work.

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Avatar for user 'HarryStreet'

HarryStreet | July 20, 2013 at 2:11 p.m. ― 3 years, 7 months ago

Frye, Gonzalez, and others should be embarassed over how they've handled this issue. As members of government they are sworn to support the law and due process for each and every citizen. Sure, they can ask Filner to resign, but who would actually do so other than Richard Nixon? They bear some responsibility in this public fiasco. They've known Filner for years. How could they naively believe he would step down?

I would like to see him go because I know he cannot overcome this embarassment and continue to lead as mayor. But if the persons accusing him of harassment fail or refuse to press formal charges, we should all be disturbed over how a person(s) can bring down another with accusations only. Due process, however long and costly it will be is the only way to move forward now.

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Avatar for user 'philosopher3000'

philosopher3000 | July 20, 2013 at 10:29 p.m. ― 3 years, 7 months ago

It appears that you censor my comments only when they hold up a light to your lack of journalistic ethics. Why not publish my accusations of sexual harassment? They are just as valid as any others.

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Avatar for user 'philosopher3000'

philosopher3000 | July 20, 2013 at 10:34 p.m. ― 3 years, 7 months ago

P.S. I can find no breach of the usage agreement in my comments above. It seems you are applying an appallingly subjective knife when cutting out my comments. They must truly have hit home. Censorship from a TAX-EXEMPT, PUBLIC Station seem a bit un-American, especially since you do it without any objective standards.

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Avatar for user 'MarineRoom'

MarineRoom | July 21, 2013 at 9:18 a.m. ― 3 years, 7 months ago

Permalink: good point about the airing more than once of the tape, but I never heard it, so cannot comment on why it should have been played several times.

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