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City Attorney Calls Filner’s Actions “Cruel,” “Over The Line”

Aired 6/21/13 on KPBS News.

Following reports from San Diego City Hall that Mayor Bob Filner had his second-in-command escorted from a closed-session meeting Tuesday, City Attorney Jan Goldsmith today released a statement announcing that his office "will have more to say about this issue next week on the steps we will be taking."

Following reports from San Diego City Hall that Mayor Bob Filner had his second-in-command booted from a closed-session meeting Tuesday, City Attorney Jan Goldsmith today released a statement announcing that his office "will have more to say about this issue next week on the steps we will be taking."

KPBS

City Attorney Jan Goldsmith (L) and San Diego Mayor Bob Filner

Goldsmith wrote in the statement this afternoon that Filner's use of police force to remove Executive Assistant City Attorney Andrew Jones was "a cruel act with no basis in law."

"It was an extreme abuse of power that should never be tolerated in a free and democratic society," he wrote.

According to a story written by the U-T San Diego's Trent Seibert, "Filner repeatedly cut off Jones in the meeting, accusing him of leaking confidential information from previous closed sessions...".

Jones told the U-T that he has never leaked information.

Goldsmith was not present at the meeting, but noted in his Friday statement that he reviewed the transcript of Tuesday's scuffle and now has "a good understanding" about what happened.

Goldsmith also noted that he does not see his interactions with Filner as "feuding." He instead called it a "continuous attempt by the mayor to thwart my office's ability to do the job I was elected to do."

The mayor also this week vetoed a decision by the City Council to restore $508,228 to the City Attorney's office, according to a U-T San Diego article. Filner cut funding and included a list of jobs in Goldsmith's office that he believe could stand to be eliminated when he released his first budget draft this spring. Jones' job was included in that list.

The City Council rejected that proposed cut in an attempt to keep the money in the city's $1.2 billion operating budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

In his memo to the council regarding his veto, Filner called the restoration of those funds "fiscally irresponsible."

Goldsmith's full statement is below:

STATEMENT OF CITY ATTORNEY JAN GOLDSMITH REGARDING MAYOR’S

USE OF POLICE FORCE AGAINST CITY ATTORNEY’S OFFICE

Having reviewed the transcript and statements from many of those present, I now have a good understanding as to what transpired at the Closed Session of the San Diego City Council on June 18, 2013.

I take issue with those who have characterized this as a “feud” between Mayor Filner and me. This is not a “feud.” This has been a continuous attempt by the Mayor to thwart my office’s ability to do the job I was elected to do. It started on January 2, 2013 at our first business meeting when he very loudly proclaimed that he is not bound to keep our office apprised of matters or follow our legal guidance. This petulant and uncooperative behavior has not stopped. We have done nothing to warrant such treatment. Mayor Filner simply does not want to be constrained by the law.

Now Mayor Filner has escalated tensions to the breaking point by using the City’s police force against my number two lawyer, Executive Assistant City Attorney Andrew Jones, a man of the highest honesty, integrity and character who I respect and admire. This was a cruel act with no basis in law. It was an extreme abuse of power that should never be tolerated in a free and democratic society. Filner has gone far over the line of decent behavior in a civilized society. We will have more to say about this issue next week on the steps we will be taking.

Comments

Avatar for user 'DonWood'

DonWood | June 21, 2013 at 4:34 p.m. ― 1 year, 2 months ago

Goldsmith goes after the mayor but tiptoes around the key question here: Did attorney Jones in fact leak the contents of previous closed city council meetings to the local media? Did Goldsmith leak information he got from Jones on closed council meetings to the media? If so the law was broken and Goldsmith was elected to enforce the law. He needs to get to the bottom of the charges and do his job, not just go after the mayor as part of his upcoming mayoral campaign.

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Avatar for user 'ninotrovato'

ninotrovato | June 21, 2013 at 5:06 p.m. ― 1 year, 2 months ago

Mayor Filner is a complete hypocrite holding money ransom and stating that he will not allow other's to hold him ransom.

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Avatar for user 'spourat'

spourat | June 21, 2013 at 5:20 p.m. ― 1 year, 2 months ago

Donwood Goldsmith is not tiptoeing around anything. Both Jones and Goldsmith have denied that they have leaked any information. didn't you read the article? Have you considered that it might be Filner or one of his staff leaking this info? Filner is a thug and egomaniac nothing more nothing less who like to ethnic race cards to further his own cause. RECALL FILNER!!!

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Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | June 21, 2013 at 6:59 p.m. ― 1 year, 2 months ago

This is not meeting the level of professionalism we expect from the Mayor of San Diego, and I think most would agree, Democrat, Republican, left, right, or middle.

It is time to seriously consider recalling Filner.

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Avatar for user 'Mmikey'

Mmikey | June 22, 2013 at 7:50 a.m. ― 1 year, 2 months ago

classic example of bi-polar disorder.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | June 22, 2013 at 9:39 a.m. ― 1 year, 2 months ago

This is ridiculous.

Everyone attacks Filner because he is TRANSPARENT and HONEST.

People did the same thing to City Attorney Aguirre.

Mr. Goldsmith knows how to play the game.

He is a backroom politician.

He acts inappropriately but he is savvy enough to act in that smug, holier-than-thou manner whenever the cameras are on or a meeting on the record is occurring.

Mr. Goldsmith is inappropriate and is using his position for political purposes.

Mr. Goldsmith has been aligned with DeMaio, and has the Republican Bosses of San Diego County firmly behind him.

Their goal: To make Mayor Filner look like a hot-head so they can get a Republican in next time.

Goldsmith is the puppet for the DeMaio-Republican Machine working behind the curtain to orchestrate scenarios where they know Filner will get upset.

It's shameful, really.

And it is playing out precisely as it did with City Attorney Aguirre, I can't believe people are too dense to see it.

I find Mr. Goldsmith to be a coy, cunning, unsavory, politically-motivated, back-room, pompous, inept hack.

The city would be better off voting this rotten apple out of office, he is poison to the city and his poisoning of our city government is DELIBERATE, backed by the Republican political machine who are still childishly bitter over their boy DeMaio flailing and failing in the last election despite Mr. Manchester's efforts of politically-motivated yellow journalism!

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | June 22, 2013 at 9:43 a.m. ― 1 year, 2 months ago

CA Defender:
"This is not meeting the level of professionalism we expect from the Mayor of San Diego, and I think most would agree, Democrat, Republican, left, right, or middle.

It is time to seriously consider recalling Filner."

CADefender - do you think Mr. Goldsmith allowing himself to be used as a political pawn and instead of acting as council to the mayor, as his job description states, is blatantly being a deliberate adversary to the mayor is "professional"?

It is time to seriously consider recalling Goldsmith.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | June 22, 2013 at 9:49 a.m. ― 1 year, 2 months ago

The media loves high drama, so a public official yelling or becoming frustrated in public will always trump stories of more substance.

How about KPBS, instead of just focusing on Mayor Filner's "moods" actually do a comprehensive examination into Mr. Goldsmith's job as City Attorney and look at his political connections and how they tie in to the positions he is taking.

Not too long ago he publicly attending some even with Mr. DeMaio.

It's no secret the Republican Machine of San Diego County, and the Republican-biased mainstream Manchester-run media her saw a Filner victory as a horrific defeat for them.

Naturally, political hacks do what political hacks do - they find the next-most powerful person in city government and groom that person to be their slimy tentacle into city hall.

And Goldsmith, like a loyal lapdog, is all too willing to serve this role.

Please, examine his job as city attorney, and look in detail at his decisions.

I am very confident you will find a man who is not serving the Mayor nor the people of San Diego County; rather, you will find a man who serves the Republican Party of California with the primary focus being to bring the downfall of Mayor Filner.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | June 22, 2013 at 9:51 a.m. ― 1 year, 2 months ago

* sorry, meant to say San Diego City, not County

I guess mentally I group Goldsmith with the county supervisors, he is just like them.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | June 22, 2013 at 10 a.m. ― 1 year, 2 months ago

spourat
"Both Jones and Goldsmith have denied that they have leaked any information. didn't you read the article?"

Surrrrre, because when politicians deny wrong-doing they are alsways telling the truth, aren't they?

spourat
"Have you considered that it might be Filner or one of his staff leaking this info?"

What are you talking about? The article doesn't even specify what it was that was released, what motive would there be for Filner to release it himself? And then get mad about it? Are you ca Goldsmith Groupie? Or, just a huge Filner hater?

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | June 22, 2013 at 10:04 a.m. ― 1 year, 2 months ago

From the article:

According to a story written by the U-T San Diego's Trent Seibert, "Filner repeatedly cut off Jones in the meeting, accusing him of leaking confidential information from previous closed sessions...".

Jones told the U-T that he has never leaked information.

Well there you go, case-closed.

A known biased media outlet run by a man who is not shy about his hate for Mayor Filner runs a one-sided article.

That's not surprising.

What IS surprising, however, is that KPBS continues to use this jaundiced media outlet as a source in their stories.

KPBS, you have talented staff, real journalists who are capable of investigating things yourself.

Please quit using the UT as a source, it dwindles your credibility.

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Avatar for user 'laplayaheritage'

laplayaheritage | June 22, 2013 at 10:49 a.m. ― 1 year, 2 months ago

www.tinyurl.com/20130620

It looking like a Republican set up with Criminal Division ACA Jones playing the political victim again, like he did with Aguirre. With Goldsmith and the Lincoln Club to the rescue to defend the presence of a Criminal Division lawyer at a Closed Session City Council meeting, that by law can only discuss Civil cases.

ACA Mary Jo Lanzafame in charge of the Advisory Division, who was also in Closed Session, assisted by Bonny Hsu, is the lead lawyer in charge of City Council issues if Goldsmith or ACA Don Worley in charge of the Civil Litigation Division are absent. Not ACA Jones.

Also Goldsmith's cover page states that he released retracted Close Session transcript, not approve by the City Council, in response to a 10 News Public Records Act (PRA) request. When the confidential and privileged closed session minute book, aka transcripts, are specifically exempt from the PRA by Government Code Section 54957.2 (a)

http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=gov&group=54001-55000&file=54950-54963

"Government Code Section 54957.2 (a) ... The minute book made pursuant to this section is not a public record subject to inspection pursuant to the California Public Records Act (Chapter 3.5 (commencing with Section 6250) of Division 7 of Title 1), and shall be kept confidential. The minute book shall be available only to members of the legislative body or, if a violation of this chapter is alleged to have occurred at a closed session, to a court of general jurisdiction wherein the local agency lies. Such minute book may, but need not, consist of a recording of the closed session."

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Avatar for user 'x76'

x76 | June 24, 2013 at 10:25 a.m. ― 1 year, 2 months ago

So the Hairpiece got outmaneuvered again? Tough. Filner is getting things done rather than sinking in the usual San Diego mud. Good for him.

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Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | June 24, 2013 at 1:42 p.m. ― 1 year, 2 months ago

Duck,

You keep deflecting the issue.

This is about Filner's inappropriate (possibly illegal) oppression of another elected official and the staff of an entire city department.

Filner could approach them in a professional way to correct the issue. Instead, he is using threats, bullying, and intimidation (even physical aggression).

That is NOT what we expect from a mayor regardless of political party. If DeMaio was mayor and he did this, you would be screaming at the top of your lungs for his removal. And so would I.

You know Filner is wrong, Duck. It is time to put down the partisan politics and do what is right for San Diego.

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Avatar for user 'DonWood'

DonWood | June 24, 2013 at 2:45 p.m. ― 1 year, 2 months ago

"According to a story written by the U-T San Diego's Trent Seibert, "Filner repeatedly cut off Jones in the meeting, accusing him of leaking confidential information from previous closed sessions...".

First question: How was UT's Trent Seibert notified of what transpired in a closed city council session?

2nd question: Who contacted Seibert and the UT and asked them to file a public records act request to get a transcript of the closed city council session?

3rd question: Who released a transcript of a closed city council meeting to the UT?

4th question: What other information about what was discussed at closed city council sessions have been leaked to the UT by that same source?

Please put your own watchdog journalists on this story and find out the truth.

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Avatar for user 'DeLaRick'

DeLaRick | June 25, 2013 at 8:09 a.m. ― 1 year, 2 months ago

CD,

Doing what's right for San Diego should be the main objective. But, isn't it somewhat satisfying to see elected officials actively politicking instead of endlessly campaigning? They might, and I say "might," actually legislate or adjudicate an issue. Filner is challenging the status quo. Our local government's past results are nothing to hang your hat on.

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Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | June 27, 2013 at 4:24 p.m. ― 1 year, 2 months ago

DLR,

Bullying and bending/breaking laws might be the norm in Washington, but it is unacceptable in San Diego no matter where in the political spectrum the mayor is.

Even if you think Filner is trying to adjudicate an issue in your favor, is bullying the manner you want it done? It will just alienate people and make compromise impossible.

That is not good for any San Diegan, left, right, or center.

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