skip to main content









Donation Heart Ribbon

City Of San Diego’s Recall Process May Be Unconstitutional

Evening Edition

Aired 7/29/13 on KPBS Midday Edition.


Todd Gloria, Council President, City of San Diego


Aired 7/29/13 on KPBS News.

The only way to force embattled mayor Bob Filner out of office might not be legal.

There are now two efforts underway to recall embattled San Diego Mayor Bob Filner, but according to City Attorney Jan Goldsmith and Council President Todd Gloria, they may not stand up in federal courts.

The problem, they say, is not with the signature collection part of the recall, which is already getting underway. On Monday job ads for paid signature collectors were posted on Craigslist.

The actual work of gathering the required 101,597 signatures can begin 29 days after the recall is officially posted.

In the case of the recall filed today by land use lawyer Michael Pallamary, a petition can begin circulating as soon as Aug. 18. The clock on the other recall campaign started ticking on Friday when LGBT Weekly publisher and owner Stampp Corbin announced he was going forward with a recall campaign.

Corbin said he doesn’t plan to collect signatures himself or pay signature gatherers but that he “just wanted to get the process going so San Diegans can make a decision.”

Two recall efforts are unprecedented, said Gloria. He said they don’t know if it’s even legal because the city has never been in this situation before.

Glora added that what really worries him is the legality of San Diego’s recall procedure.

The issue comes after the signatures are collected and when the voting begins. Voters must vote on the recall before they are able to cast their ballot for the mayor’s successor.

According to a memo from the city attorney, a near-identical law was struck down by a federal district court in 2003 because it was found to restrict the constitutional right to vote and violate the First Amendment’s free speech clause.

Gloria said that is why the council is trying to fix the process. He said he is working with the city attorney and other council members to change the voting requirements so that they are in compliance with the law.

Gloria said he thinks the council can expedite the process so that the law is changed before either of the current recalls go to a vote, even if it means calling special sessions of the city council next month. The council is supposed to go on vacation in August.

Gloria added that if the council votes to change the recall voting process, the mayor could then veto it.

A majority of the city council could override the mayor’s veto.

To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.


Avatar for user 'MarineRoom'

MarineRoom | July 29, 2013 at 4:37 p.m. ― 3 years, 8 months ago

So Mr. Gloria thinks they can "fix" the problem. Yes, I agree that "fix" is the right word for what's going on with this exercise in provincial politics.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'RLA'

RLA | July 29, 2013 at 9:14 p.m. ― 3 years, 8 months ago

If it was not so sad, this would be funny. Filner needs to be recalled, but San Diego does not have a legal method for recall - sad,stupid and extremely bad for the city and region of San Diego.

He will not leave office, he cannot be thrown out, and San Diego will be set back with no civic progress for years. Congratulations to Francine Busby and the "no one will notice" crowd who supported him for mayor.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'ManilaMesa'

ManilaMesa | July 30, 2013 at 9:10 a.m. ― 3 years, 8 months ago

There is another option. I propose that on the day Filner returns to city hall after his two-week paid therapy vacation that every registered voter in San Diego, locked arm-in-arm, make a human wall around city hall to prevent his return to office for that day. If 102,000 of us were to show a little peaceful civil disobedience against this rascal, we'd be worthy of being America's Finest City again. At best, we're now just America's Filner City.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'russfox'

russfox | July 30, 2013 at 10:08 a.m. ― 3 years, 8 months ago

I love how Todd asked Filner to resign... I don't know, a least a dozen times?, in this interview. He can ask him a zillion times.... he's not going.

ManilaMesa is on to something. I think, eventually, Filner will have to come out from hiding. He should be booed at every chance, by everyone.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Imfedup'

Imfedup | July 30, 2013 at 11:52 a.m. ― 3 years, 8 months ago

@russfox, I'm glad I'm not the only one who noticed that...LOL! This is my first comment in regards to this whole Mayor fiasco. I bit my tongue because I wanted some unfiltered facts prior to making my own mind up. I have to say that the media once again has been beating the drum for Filner's resignation like nobody's business. UT, Channel 10 and yes even KPBS!!! KPBS are supposed to be neutral and non-partisan in their reporting, but I feel as though they have been one of the strongest cheerleaders for the Mayor's downfall in their reporting. One thing I've realized is that the City loves scandals. This is yet another one of many.

I've been a resident of San Diego of more than 20 years and I've seen different Mayors and City Council members. I actively campaigned and voted for Mayor Filner because I believed in his vision for the City. Today I feel betrayed and hurt that all the many hours spent canvassing and talking to the youth as well as my community may have been all for nothing. I'm truly torn here. Part of me wants to give the Mayor a chance to redeem himself after only 6 months in office because there's still so much work to do. Another part wants him just to go away. Council member Gloria, as much as I dislike him, was right. The Mayor's problems won't be fixed in 2 weeks of intense therapy. In my opinion, the only way I see the Mayor holding onto his job is if he's therapist issues a statement stating that he will continue his therapy as long as needed and that in doing so his capacity to govern will not be affected. If he relapses, then he must resign immediately!

Recall is expensive and now they say maybe even unconstitutional. So the City Council and the City Attorney are re-writing the rules and ordinances to make sure they get their man out of office? I'm truly fed up with government,

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | July 30, 2013 at 1:06 p.m. ― 3 years, 8 months ago

It's painfully obvious that San Diego is not equipped to handle this scandal.

There is no formal process of impeachment that could be initiated by the legislative branch of government (i.e. the City Council), and with the exception of a felony conviction or long and laborious recall, there is no way to remove the mayor involuntarily.

The city appears powerless as Filner and his advisors call the shots on their own terms.

So, my question: Is San Diego unique in this regard?

Do other large cities have procedures in place to handle things like this?

If the mayor of Philadelphia was a groper, could their city government impeach him?

What about Phoenix?



Los Angeles?



I want to know if these other places would have their hands-tied the way our city council appears to.

Bob Filner may have been the one caught groping women, but it's the City of San Diego that appears to have been caught with its pants down.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | July 30, 2013 at 4:01 p.m. ― 3 years, 8 months ago

Good question Duck!

Hard to find any info on this. We should have two avenues for removing a mayor. Impeachment by the City Council or a citizen initiated recall. That would support our democratic ideals and strengthen checks and balances upon mayoral power.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'David Lucero'

David Lucero | July 30, 2013 at 4:21 p.m. ― 3 years, 8 months ago

Another example of how persons in office can get away with crime. Our political system should not be so complicated to allow incumbents to continue to hold office when in fact they have proven to be contrary to the position they hold.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'DonWood'

DonWood | July 30, 2013 at 7:19 p.m. ― 3 years, 8 months ago

From all his repetitions in this interview, it sounds like Todd Gloria really wants the Mayor to resign. Of course if that happened Gloria would become interim mayor and have a leg up on getting the job permanently, so he just might have an ulterior political motive.

( | suggest removal )