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Filner’s Attorney: City Failed To Provide Mayor With Sexual Harassment Training

Aired 7/31/13 on KPBS News.

In a letter first obtained by Voice of San Diego, Mayor Bob Filner's attorney asserts that the city failed to provide the mayor with sexual harassment training. But council staff say the training is available online.

In a letter first obtained by Voice of San Diego, Mayor Bob Filner's attorney asserts that the city failed to provide the mayor with sexual harassment training and says the "City will almost certainly be liable for 'failing to prevent harassment'..."

But City Council staff members tell KPBS that the training is available online and it's up to all elected officials to complete the training on their own and to make sure their staff does the same.

In the letter, Harvey Berger, Filner's private attorney, says the city failed to provide the mayor with sexual harassment training and would therefore be held liable for any legal fees Filner incurred as a result of a sexual harassment lawsuit filed against him and the city of San Diego. The City Council on Tuesday night voted unanimously to reject Filner's request that the city pay his legal fees.


Filner's Attorney Requests City Cover Legal Fees

Filner's Attorney Requests City Cover Legal Fees

In a letter obtained by the Voice of San Diego, Mayor Filner's lawer, Harvey Berger requests the city cover the legal fees because it failed to provide the mayor with sexual harassment training.

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"Had the city provided mandatory sexual harassment to Mayor Filner, Ms. McCormack Jackson may never have brought her lawsuit," he said, referring to the lawsuit filed July 22 by Filner's former director of communications, Irene McCormack Jackson.

Berger today declined a request by a KPBS producer to be interviewed about his letter.

By law, the city is to provide the mayor with sexual harassment training within six months of taking office, Berger stated in the letter.

"The City failed to provide such training to Mayor Filner," Berger wrote. "In fact, it is my understanding that such training was scheduled, but that the trainer for the City unilaterally cancelled, and never re-scheduled such training for the Mayor (and others.)"

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.

Berger also said while "many may adult male should not need sexual harassment training," Filner did not receive sexual harassment training during his decades in office as a congressman.

But Diana Palacios, deputy chief of staff for City Councilman Scott Sherman, said the mandatory sexual harassment training was readily provided by the city online. It was the responsibility of newly elected officials to take the online training, she said. Sherman took office in early December, on the same day that Filner was sworn in.

Sherman completed the training and received his certificate in March.

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Avatar for user 'theRose'

theRose | July 31, 2013 at 2:22 p.m. ― 3 years ago

Did SDSU fail to provide him this training while he was working there? Did parenthood not help him observe the experiences of young women? Did his mother neglect to instill in him a respect for women?

This is really everyone's fault but his.

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Avatar for user 'DonWood'

DonWood | July 31, 2013 at 2:27 p.m. ― 3 years ago

Apparently Scott Sherman, who got into office with the help of Carl DeMaio, has appointed himself chief haranguer against the mayor on the city council, despite stiff competition from Falcouner and Gloria, who both want to get into the mayor's office then they are term limited out of their council seats.

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Avatar for user 'RLA'

RLA | July 31, 2013 at 2:40 p.m. ― 3 years ago

...and here we go, this is just getting messier and messier. The City Council can vote however they want, but Bob Filner will cost San Diego millions of dollars from the taxpayers. While these millions are being spent, any and all progress within the city will grind to a halt. This will all still be in court and in the headlines when Filner's term expires. Kind of a new way to look at that mantra " FOUR MORE YEARS". The hangover from Filner's election is going to be a doozie.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | July 31, 2013 at 3:09 p.m. ― 3 years ago

The city attorney is an idiot.

It may be politically advantageous in the short-term to refuse to pay for legal representation here, but the lawsuit filed is against Filner AND the CITY.

Doesn't the city attorney/city council have an obligation to provide defense when the CITY is sued?

What is going to happen is the CITY will have no representation in court because the council and Goldsmith are inept hacks, so Filner's private lawyers will be there to twist everything around and make the city look like the ones who are libel.

I see from many posters on here that the council and Goldsmith's refusal to defend the CITY in the court case is popular, but in the end this will probably cost tax payers MORE as the city is much more likely to lose in court with no representation.

Filner's lawyers represent Filner only, NOT the interest of the CITY, and the CITY is being neglectful by actually suggesting they will provide no legal representation in a lawsuit where the CITY is named as a defendant.

This article is a prime example of how Filner's lawyers are at work trying to pin responsibility on the city, yet idiot Goldsmith and Gloria refuse to provide defense for our city.





Who is going to start the recall effort against GOLDSMITH!?

Put Filner and Goldsmith's name on the same damn recall petition, I'll sign that one.

Goldsmith must go, he stinks to high heaven, he is an agitator, an incompetent, and an embarrassment to this city.

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Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | July 31, 2013 at 3:29 p.m. ― 3 years ago

"Filner did not receive sexual harassment training during his decades in office as a congressman."


So the US government liable as well? A lawyer's dream!

I wonder if Filner took anti-corruption training. No? So he's off the hook for that too. Darn. No anti-murder training? Uh-oh.

Kids, here's the lesson from Mr. Lawyer:

If you're not explicitly told something is wrong in a series of long Power Point presentations each year by your employer...IT'S PERFECTLY OK!

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Avatar for user 'joecollins'

joecollins | July 31, 2013 at 3:31 p.m. ― 3 years ago

This sounds like "throw everything against the wall and see what sticks."

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Avatar for user 'jenjen'

jenjen | July 31, 2013 at 3:53 p.m. ― 3 years ago

As a legal gambit, I get this. As a statement someone is willing to make in public and then actually keep his job, it's just so egregious!

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Avatar for user 'David Lucero'

David Lucero | July 31, 2013 at 4:08 p.m. ― 3 years ago

A slick move from his attorney, and one to be expected from a person specializing in employee rights.

It is the responsibility of leaders to seek out the training they need in order to perform their job up to expectations. Saying, "I didn't know any better," is not an argument. Saying, "I was not trained," is not an argument. It is not unreasonable for us to expect a mayor to seek out the required training and complete it on his/her recognize within the required timeframe (6 months I understand).

This move clearly indicates Filner knows he will not hold onto the mayor's office, so he plans to have the taxpayers foot his bill as payback. At his age what does he care what we think. He's a millionnaire and will do everything necessary to hold onto his money. He knows his 'vision' for San Diego' will never be fulfilled now, and we're going to pay for it, too.

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Avatar for user 'MalcolmSanDiego'

MalcolmSanDiego | July 31, 2013 at 4:22 p.m. ― 3 years ago

Hey BobFilner: Hahahahaha!

Anyway, omg. Filner is an elected mayor; but, in any other context, people are taught not to behave like him. But they vote for him or support him. I will never fully understand politics--and that is a good thing for me.

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Avatar for user 'russfox'

russfox | July 31, 2013 at 4:41 p.m. ― 3 years ago

Didn't Filner fight for woman's rights in his Congress days? And didn't they include strengthening of laws on sexual harassment? He must know a little something, no? To not know that it was wrong? Well, he did admit to that it is wrong, already. I guess he just sort of snapped to it.

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Avatar for user 'MalcolmSanDiego'

MalcolmSanDiego | July 31, 2013 at 4:48 p.m. ― 3 years ago

Where'd BobFilner go?

Aw, KPBS. Why'd you take him down! Put him back up! He's Filner's voice while Filner is away!

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Avatar for user 'strata66'

strata66 | July 31, 2013 at 5:53 p.m. ― 3 years ago

I'm all for Bob, he did NOT receive sexual harassment training so how would he know what is appropriate behavior and what is not. The city is liable via ineptness and Bob keeps his job for 3.2 more years, case closed. The only citizens that will benefit is Team Pinocchio, I don't believe a headlock happened and is being embellished for shock value. This is all so stupid, but it's juicy news for the nation. And the people will come here in droves to see for themselves!! GO MAYOR FILNER!!

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Avatar for user 'Grahma2'

Grahma2 | July 31, 2013 at 7:52 p.m. ― 3 years ago

Since most of the women who have come forth were harassed/molested prior to Bob Filner becoming mayor, one would have to assume that he should complain to the federal government about his lack of sexual harassment training. And as mentioned, he supposedly worked for many years to protect women in the military from similar attacks from their fellow soldiers. How can he possibly claim to protect women in the military and not know what such behavior consists of.

I am a Democrat and a woman - and am grateful that I live in Escondido so I did not have to even consider voting for this poor excuse for a government official.

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Avatar for user 'BarryJohn'

BarryJohn | July 31, 2013 at 8:34 p.m. ― 3 years ago

Filner's lawyer's argument might be relevant for a lower level employee, but as the Strong Mayor/CEO, Filner would ultimately responsible for the enforcement of all City policies & procedures. A subordinate coordinator-position type employee could not make or force the top executive to engage in the training, whereas other employees could be directly ordered to take the training if they for some reason were not addressing it by their own accord per the City's policy.

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Avatar for user 'MarineRoom'

MarineRoom | July 31, 2013 at 9:24 p.m. ― 3 years ago

Barry, you make an interesting argument.

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Avatar for user 'muckapoo1'

muckapoo1 | August 1, 2013 at 6:37 a.m. ― 3 years ago

I can only imagine how many days his dog ate his homework. This guy is not only a sorry excuse for a leader, he is a despicable human being. He makes me ashamed of my generation. He is a neanderthal that must have had terrible parents and few friends. CNN is going to love this newest twist in in this ongoing soap opera.

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Avatar for user 'Mmikey'

Mmikey | August 1, 2013 at 7:17 a.m. ― 3 years ago

our leaders are so dumb they need training in courtesy and common sense.

Is this a window into the kind of persons that are supposed to represent us?

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Avatar for user 'pwyguy'

pwyguy | August 1, 2013 at 7:33 a.m. ― 3 years ago

Filner, get another lawyer. This self-interest without honor approach is just about the dumbest political move I have ever heard. You may very well win and receive payment, but you've taken an automatic nail gun to your coffin with this idiotic action.

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Avatar for user 'progressivebuthey'

progressivebuthey | August 1, 2013 at 7:57 a.m. ― 3 years ago

Filner is "getting off" with the perceived power he has not resigning.

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Avatar for user 'muckapoo1'

muckapoo1 | August 1, 2013 at 8:12 a.m. ― 3 years ago

What kind of dufus does not know not to run around kissing and slobbering on women? Mayor Bozo needs to go.

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Avatar for user 'genowee'

genowee | August 1, 2013 at 9:13 a.m. ― 3 years ago

this will be his legacy...he must be so proud!

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Avatar for user 'Chip'

Chip | August 1, 2013 at 9:52 a.m. ― 3 years ago

Like they say, "You can't make this stuff up!"

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Avatar for user 'David Lucero'

David Lucero | August 1, 2013 at 5:31 p.m. ― 3 years ago

Can anyone imagine the outcry if we actually have to pay for his lawyer's fees?

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