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San Diego Democrats Call For Filner To Resign

The San Diego Democratic Party tonight called on Mayor Bob Filner to resign. The action came on a day when four more prominent San Diego women came forward in an exclusive KPBS interview with allegations of sexual improprieties against the mayor.

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.

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San Diego Democrats Call On Filner To Resign

San Diego Democrats Call On Filner To Resign

The San Diego Democratic Party has called on ...

Party committee members met last Thursday for more than three hours but failed to reach a consensus on whether to support the 70-year-old Filner, whose resignation is being clamored for by several local office holders and civic leaders, both Democrat and Republican.

In a statement released after last week's meeting, committee chairwoman Francine Busby said that although committee members were divided, there would be grounds for Filner's resignation if the sexual harassment allegations turn out to be true.

Busby said after this week's meeting the mood was notably different. Last week the meeting lasted for hours, with parties on all sides calling out for different outcomes. A source told KPBS that younger democrats were calling for a new leader, while some of the more stalwart old school were standing by the historically progressive mayor.

This Thursday the vote was 34 to 6, in favor of asking the embattled mayor to resign his post. Busby said everyone in the room was quiet but there was a sense of deep betrayal.

"It's so sad" Busby said, "because he has worked his entire life for veterans, for women, for children, for the border community — he's been a friend and he has been there." But she added, "it is heartbreaking that this long progressive career, the man we thought he was, is not the man he seems to be."

Busby also said that what so many took for something light-hearted has turned deadly seriously in the gaze of recent allegations.

"People have been with the mayor when he said something inappropriate and told a joke, but the extent of this extreme behavior is beyond what we would have imagined," she said. "Nobody saw the big picture, that he is a democrat treating women like this."

Busby said for many, the allegations are a disconnect between the mayor's progressive policies and the alleged actions that have surfaced in the past week.

Laura Fink, the first woman to speak to KPBS about allegations that the mayor had been inappropriate, was at the meeting. Busby said that many in the crowd congratulated her on her "courage in coming forward."

Filner was first publicly accused of sexual harassment about two weeks ago when three of his former political allies held a joint news conference to announce they had evidence he had engaged in it and that he should step down immediately. The trio, which included former Councilwoman Donna Frye, initially declined to discuss specific allegations, citing a need for privacy for the women involved.

On Monday, Filner's former communications director became the first woman to publicly describe his allegedly offensive conduct.

Irene McCormack Jackson, 57, said that while she worked in the Mayor's Office, Filner held her in a headlock while demanding kisses. She also alleged the mayor told her she should work without her panties on, that he wanted to see her naked, that he could not wait to consummate their relationship and that he wanted to marry her.

Jackson has filed a lawsuit in San Diego Superior Court against Filner and the city. It seeks unspecified damages. She is being represented by high-profile Los Angeles-based attorney Gloria Allred.

Since then, six more women have come forth detailing sexual harassment incidents involving the mayor at various events and private encounters over recent years.

City Attorney Jan Goldsmith, who himself has feuded with the mayor on several occasions, said his office will defend the city, while Filner will be represented by lawyer Harvey Berger, possibly at the city's expense.

Pending the outcome of the lawsuit, Filner is restricted from meeting alone with women at city facilities.

"At my request, the mayor is not to meet with women alone at city facilities,'' Goldsmith said. "That was agreed to by his lawyer, and it is being enforced by the chief of staff, deputy chief of staff. The chief of police is also aware of that and has made certain commitments.''

After Jackson came forward, Fink, a former campaign staffer said Filner patted her bottom at a 2005 fundraising event, when he was a congressman. Fink said she demanded an apology from Filner in an email and received a mumbled "I'm sorry'' a couple of days later.

Filner's third alleged victim is San Diego Unified School District psychologist Morgan Rose, who said she met with Filner in 2009 at a restaurant across from his congressional office to discuss her initiative dedicated to the well-being of America's children. She said that during their discussion, he told her "your eyes have bewitched me'' and moved next to her.

Rose said Filner tried to kiss her four times and only stopped when he received a phone call. She quoted him as saying he wouldn't budge until she kissed him.

Rose said she has called a hotline set up by the San Diego County Sheriff's Department to take complaints against the mayor. The department has been designated as the lead law enforcement agency for investigating the claims.

Filner initially apologized for mistreating women in his office, admitting that he failed to fully respect the women who work for him and with him and that at times, he intimidated them. Later, he said his actions did not constitute sexual harassment.

In rebuffing calls for his resignation, Filner, who was elected last November, said he's working with professionals to make changes in his behavior and he wants an opportunity to prove he's capable of change.

Following Monday's announcement from Jackson, Filner said in a statement that he was saddened by the charges that were leveled against him.

"Once due process is allowed to unfold, I am certain there will be a better understanding of this situation,'' he said.

He also asked San Diegans to avoid a rush to judgment.

"I do not believe these claims are valid,'' Filner said. "This is why due process is so important. I intend to defend myself vigorously and I know that justice will prevail.''

City News Service contributed

Comments

Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | July 25, 2013 at 9:38 a.m. ― 1 year, 3 months ago

From my understanding there are only three ways in which Filner can be removed:

1 - he resigns
2 - he is convicted of a felony (like mr. Hegecock)
3 - he is recalled by the voters

It seems to me the Democratic Party's hands are tied, however there is one issue I want them to address.

The guy Filner appointed to run the city while he takes are of his scandal.

Is THAT legal?

Does the mayor have a legal right to appoint someone who was not elected by the people to do his work?

I want this explored an researched because as a citizen of the city of San Diego I am very troubled by the placement of someone the people have not elected at the helm.

If mr. Filner wants to remain in office and support himself, I support that as I've said all along. He, like anyone, does indeed deserve due process.

BUT, if mr. Filner decides to stay and fight this he needs to lead the city as well. He is the elected mayor, appointing some random that the voters never elected seems to me to be at best a slap in the face for those of us who voted for mr. Filner and at worst illegal.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'progressivebuthey'

progressivebuthey | July 25, 2013 at 10:59 a.m. ― 1 year, 3 months ago

let him have due process on his own time. he's not doing it for the city, but for his own reputation and ego. the democratic party needs to take a stance against him regardless if it has any effect on him resigning, but they look like co-conspirators or their heads up their you know what.

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | July 25, 2013 at 11:45 a.m. ― 1 year, 3 months ago

A recall would be costly. Is San Diego prepared to bear the cost?

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | July 25, 2013 at 12:21 p.m. ― 1 year, 3 months ago

progressivebuthey, the official response of the Democratic Party is that Filner should not be mayor if he is guilty of the charges.

That is certainly not being a "co-conspirator".

It is the responsible and appropriate thing to do.

We saw what happens when people outright call for resignation before due process - Gonzales, Frye, and Briggs did this and it turned out to be a big hot mess on their part and it did no good - he didn't resign.

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Avatar for user 'HarryStreet'

HarryStreet | July 25, 2013 at 4:05 p.m. ― 1 year, 3 months ago

Looks like cities across the country, probably all of the government itself, should review what steps can, and should, be done when a scandal of this scopes envelopes government.

Even if Filner, however unlikely, is innocent there is no way he can overcome the accusations and reputation as a harasser of women. His ability to lead is tarnished and ineffective. If he truly cared about the city he would admit this and resign, but he won't because this is about him, and his reputation is everything to him. He will not admit he cannot defeat these accusations because his entire world would fold if he did. And let's not forget we have yet to see the evidence against him. Witnesses will be helpful for the accused, but don't be surprised how little water that holds when a jury is given instructions by a judge on what is admissable and not.

In the private sector the CEO of a company would be forced out. Based on what is happening, there should be proceedings for Filner to be impeached, or something similar, and be removed. The problem is that we are now hearing how this case may not reach the courts until 18 months from now. Are we going to be made to wait this long? Probably.

....And don't forget he still may beat this rap. Look at Casey Anthony and George Zimmerman. Everyone was against them. Everyone was sure of their guilt. They are free.

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Avatar for user 'kiwistar'

kiwistar | July 25, 2013 at 6:02 p.m. ― 1 year, 3 months ago

You can be more proactive, if your Councilman/Councilwoman has not ask Filner to resign, the link is here:
http://www.sandiego.gov/citycouncil/

I sent the following letter:
Dear Honorable XXX:

As a resident at XXX, I enjoy receiving monthly newsletter from you about the progress of our community. However, I am highly disappointed that you have not joined other San Diego community leaders to ask Mayor Bob Filner to resign. I work for XXX at XXX; there is zero tolerance policy in our place for sexual harassment. I am very concerned that you still remain silent as XXX after the charges again Mayor Filner came out two weeks ago and followed with additional details.
I hope to hear from you about this matter, until then I will withdraw any future support.

A concerned San Diego resident, XXX.

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Avatar for user 'progressivebuthey'

progressivebuthey | July 25, 2013 at 6:21 p.m. ― 1 year, 3 months ago

Peking duck ----
The democratic party had to have KNOWN about his behavior going way back to D.C. and either they didn't vet him properly (heads up their you know what) or they are co-conspiring with him for political reasons --- they don't give a rats ass about due process. They either don't have a good candidate ready to run or the union vote is too strong for them to toss filner on the pavement.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | July 25, 2013 at 7:25 p.m. ― 1 year, 3 months ago

Progress, I do see your point about vetting, but if nobody was willing to come forward and he had no sexual harassment charges against him after 20 years in DC, there's only so much one can do.

It's like a job interview - if someone looks good on paper and all their references check out, you give them the benefit of the doubt.

Sometimes, the occasional psychopath slips through.

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Avatar for user 'al_mac_62'

al_mac_62 | July 25, 2013 at 8:39 p.m. ― 1 year, 3 months ago

Peking Duck, you should be ashamed of yourself. Defending this piece of filth because you voted for him. The city would be better off with no mayor, than to have this predator in office. Take your partisan blinders off - he is not worthy to serve, and should be removed.

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Avatar for user 'philosopher3000'

philosopher3000 | July 25, 2013 at 11:12 p.m. ― 1 year, 3 months ago

None of the allegations against Filner amount to sexual harassment.
Sexual harassment can only be inflicted on an employee.
It must be unwanted attention, and they must be documented and rebuffed.
It must be repeated.
It must happen in this decade.

This is a gossip powered witch hunt, KPBS is guilty of lighting the fire and brining the wood.

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Avatar for user 'marjorieo'

marjorieo | July 26, 2013 at 8:06 a.m. ― 1 year, 3 months ago

philospher3000-You are totally incorrect of your definition of what constitutes sexual harassment. It does NOT have to be an employee. It has to be someone in a position of power. Please stop posting that on every news story about Bob Filner.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | July 26, 2013 at 9:38 a.m. ― 1 year, 3 months ago

al_mac_62 | yesterday at 8:39 p.m. ― 12 hours, 53 minutes ago
Peking Duck, you should be ashamed of yourself. Defending this piece of filth because you voted for him.

---------------------

I'm not defending Filner, I'm defending due process, something anyone should be entitled to when accused of something and asked to resign.

YOU would want the right to due process if you were accused of something, and so would I.

Now, look through my posting history.

I have commended the brave women who have come forward, and I have said I think Filner is guilty and needs to go.

If that's "defending him" in your book, then you have some serious issues.

the one thing that can make San Diego look like a bigger joke than a mayoral sexual harassment scandal is a HYSTERICAL, WITCH-HUNT approach to said scandal.

I am guess you are one of those types of people who, when you see someone on television accused of a terrible crime, wants to see them burned at the stake instead of given a fair trial.

Well, I am not one of those types of people.

I believe evidence, fairness, and due process. For everyone.

I'm sorry you don't feel the same.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | July 26, 2013 at 9:42 a.m. ― 1 year, 3 months ago

Even if the women were not employees, they did have business ties with Filner and Filner was in a position to impact their career - either positively or (if they didn't cooperate) negatively.

While I don't believe anything I have heard so far implicates Filner in a criminal manner, I certainly do think he has croseed-the line of sexual harassment and enough proof has been presented to challenge him in a civil proceeding.

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Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | July 26, 2013 at 11:14 a.m. ― 1 year, 3 months ago

So one count of sexual harassment can be ignored by the SD Democratic Party.

Two is no problem.

Three is acceptable.

Four is tolerable.

Seven is where they draw the line.

I'm glad other Democratic politicians now have a firm number. Abuse 6 women and you're a dandy. Seven and you're out.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | July 26, 2013 at 12:02 p.m. ― 1 year, 3 months ago

@CA offende:

Todd Akins, Republican: "Legitimate rape!"

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Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | July 26, 2013 at 12:17 p.m. ― 1 year, 3 months ago

Mission,

I'm not defending Republicans in any way. In fact, I despise them.

I'm simply showing that Democrats are just as bad. They just do it with a smile.

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Avatar for user 'MalcolmSanDiego'

MalcolmSanDiego | July 26, 2013 at 12:30 p.m. ― 1 year, 3 months ago

Why does Philosopher3000 name himself such? His logic is non-existent--most philosophers have at least some reasoning skills. Is he just goofing around; or does he seriously believe he's putting forth sound reasoning? Thank Jesus his type of thinking isn't predominating the discussion. (I would seriously give up on politics--altogether--if his logic ruled.)

KPBS: can you redact all of Philosopher3000's posts due to lack of anything sensible?
P.S: If I'm name-calling, apologies. But, jeez, that guy is meaningless, confusing, a waste of digital space, etc:-)

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Avatar for user 'theRose'

theRose | July 26, 2013 at 12:34 p.m. ― 1 year, 3 months ago

CA-DEF:
"I'm simply showing that Democrats are just as bad. They just do it with a smile."

At least they don't do it while waving a bible with their other hand.

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | July 26, 2013 at 12:43 p.m. ― 1 year, 3 months ago


I wouldn't put it pass them if some or much of this was politically motivated. The hoteliers didin't like him because Filner put his foot down. Goldsmith doesn't like him because their personalities clash. The hyperfeminists don't like him simply because he is male. The gays didn't like him because he voted for DOMA in '96 or '97. And of course, the Teebirchers didn't like him because simply for being a Democrat.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | July 26, 2013 at 3:14 p.m. ― 1 year, 3 months ago

Mission,

So what you're saying is if you stand up against corruption and sexual harassment you're only doing it because of political motivation?

You'd fit right in in Washington.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'russfox'

russfox | July 26, 2013 at 3:37 p.m. ― 1 year, 3 months ago

As I understand it, if Filner is convicted of sexual harassment, misdemeanor of stronger, he still can not be removed. So, if this does go to court, and he doesn't like the verdict, he can still decide to just dole out more apologies and stay on office.

Bottom line, is I would like to meet the remaining 6 democrats that are still backing Filner. Do they understand that he is a total failure and that his agenda is shot to hell? Do they understand that Filner is doing considerable harm to future Democrats that deserve a chance to carry fwd a liberal agenda? I wish this were just an opinion, but we are all witnessing what a terrible person he is. For god sake, he just put a republican in charge. Walt Ekard has such a stellar reputation, this should further damage the Democratic agenda. Why would any democrat want to see Filner stay??

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Avatar for user 'RLA'

RLA | July 26, 2013 at 8 p.m. ― 1 year, 2 months ago

Since the Democratic Party (local branch) certainly knew about Filner's penchant to harrass and assault women can they be held liable?

Interesting prospect, I hope some enterprising attorney takes that up with an eye towards millions in damages. Anything and everything can be overlooked for power - just ask the Dems. Hooray! we finally won the mayor's office! How sweet is that victory Francine? Everyone should remember to vote the person, not the party.

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Avatar for user 'MarineRoom'

MarineRoom | July 29, 2013 at 9:47 a.m. ― 1 year, 2 months ago

Philosopher3000

Your points certainly have some merit. When it comes to an actual trial or investigation, as opposed to the current trial-by-press, we will be able to see whether your suppositions are upheld.

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Avatar for user 'MalcolmSanDiego'

MalcolmSanDiego | July 29, 2013 at 11:29 a.m. ― 1 year, 2 months ago

To MarineRoom: Philosopher3000s assertions have no merit. To remove a mayor, you do not have to prove anything in a court of law. You simply recall.

In addition, all the elements of S.H. philosopher3000 points out HAVE been met (though, I'm assuming 3000 knows what he/she is talking about--since MarineRoom says 3000 has merit, I'll assume this is a safe assumption).

So how in the world does A=B and B=C, but C not equal A?

Are you seriously saying these women and men are all lying? Ever heard of probabilities? That's what standard a civil trial will use. If it's more probable than not, Filner is guilty. So, when all these people are taken to the witness box--that's called evidence. Filner can't rebut these witnesses without looking more foolish.

But again, it doesn't take a court to recall a mayor.

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