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Goldsmith Doesn’t Want Office Lawyers To Go To Mayor Filner’s Office Alone

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

— The public got a taste of the relationship between San Diego Mayor Bob Filner and City Attorney Jan Goldsmith at a recent press conference, which was called by Goldsmith. Filner showed up without being invited.

Aired 3/14/13 on KPBS News.

Public squabbles at San Diego city hall are nothing new. But insiders say bickering between Mayor Bob Filner and City Attorney Jan Goldsmith’s office have degenerated into heated confrontations and outright yelling and screaming behind the scenes. So much so that Goldsmith won’t allow his staff lawyers to go the mayor’s office without a "witness."

“He did not advise me," Filner said. "It would have been nice, Mr. Goldsmith, to have a memo. It would have been nice to have advice. I am your client. As privileged communication, you have not only been unprofessional but unethical in this press conference.”

In private, city officials said the clashes have been even more fierce and prompted the city attorney to change policy.

Goldsmith alerted his staff in late February that his lawyers, especially women, were not to visit the mayor's office without a "witness." City officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that directive came after incidents involving Filner and lawyers from the city attorney's office.

In one, officials said Filner crumpled up a legal opinion and threw it at Chief Deputy City Attorney Leslie Fitzgerald.

The incident prompted Goldsmith to send a memo to his staff on unprofessional conduct in the workplace.

"I consider our office personnel to be professionals who are entitled to be treated with respect," Goldsmith wrote. He urged his staff to report unprofessional treatment. And then he added this, "Abuse may come in the form of yelling, degrading or even throwing things, none of which will be tolerated."

City staff and politicians differ on the seriousness of Goldsmith’s concern. Councilman David Alvarez characterized closed sessions as lively but not extraordinary. Nor did he find it unusual that Goldsmith doesn’t want his lawyers going to the mayor’s office unaccompanied.

“If that’s what the city attorney wants to do, that’s his prerogative," Alvarez said. "When I go to meetings sometimes, I bring people with me.”

But the tone of city hall discussions has left a bigger impression on others.

Goldsmith has told his staff if they ever find themselves in a situation where they are being treated unprofessionally, they should remove themselves.

In fact, Goldsmith removed himself from a closed session meeting last month. City officials, who were present, said a deputy city attorney was in the process of explaining a legal position when Filner asked her repeatedly what a word she used meant and would not let up. The questioning continued until sources say Goldsmith stood up, slammed his hand on the table, told the mayor he wouldn't tolerate such treatment and walked out taking his staff with him.

Goldsmith and his staff refused to comment for the story.

Filner did not respond to a request for an interview. But on KPBS’s Midday earlier this month, he described his relationship with Goldsmith as a work in progress.

When a caller to the program asked Filner whether he thought he should show civility to be an effective leader, the mayor responded with, “Yeah, of course I do. But you also have to have a mayor who stands up for the people and the prerogatives of the office.”

However, tone is crucial said Carl Luna, political science professor at San Diego Mesa College.

“If the message is overwhelmed by the way you deliver the message, it’s counterproductive," Luna said.

And he adds the public is getting shortchanged. Serious debates on the issues are one thing but acrimonious arguments and walkouts mean the city’s business isn’t getting done. Luna said legitimate issues may separate the two men such as whether the city attorney represents the people of San Diego or the mayor. San Diego’s strong mayor system may also be a factor in how the relationship between the men is unfolding. There’s the matter of Filner adjusting to his new job as well.

Filner spent many years as a congressman. Luna said congressional representatives are infamous for treating office staff poorly.

“It’s not behavior that’s going to buy you what you want in the end," Luna said. "It’s one thing to present yourself as a strong boss. It’s another to present yourself as a bullying boss. If the mayor is doing the latter, he’s probably going to need a course correction.”

One option, Luna said, could include civility lessons.

Comments

Avatar for user 'janammackie'

janammackie | March 14, 2013 at 8:51 a.m. ― 1 year, 7 months ago

During the mayoral race, Filner came across as rude and mean-spirited, to the point that I found myself turning off the televised debates because I just couldn't listen to him anymore. I'm a passionate Democrat, yet found myself deeply challenged to vote for a man who would conduct himself in such a way. Perhaps that tone works in the partisan world of Washington, but it is not what is needed to bring together a diverse city. The actions described in this story are, sadly, what I might have predicted. Disrespectful, rude behavior from the Mayor is completely unacceptable. Filner needs to be called out on this - perhaps the problem is no one else has before.

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Avatar for user 'laplayaheritage'

laplayaheritage | March 14, 2013 at 9:09 a.m. ― 1 year, 7 months ago

http://www.10news.com/news/mayor-bob-filner-city-attorney-jan-goldsmith-exchange-words-during-news-conference-022013

Actual watch the video of Goldsmith's Press Conference.

City Attorney Goldsmith approved the City Council decision to move booking and sales of the Convention Center to the private Tourism Authority through a Quid Pro Quo arrangement. The No-Bid Contract did not follow Managed Competition guidelines.

The deal included that the Hoteliers would not vote against the new 2 percent TMD or 3 percent Special tax in exchange for moving Convention Center Booking to the private Tourism Authority.

The Hoteliers have stated they wanted to move the lucrative smaller medical convention from our public Convention Center (that pays down our annual $14 million public debt for Phase 2) to private Hotels owned by Tourism Authority Board Members. Major Conflict of Interest.

www.tinyurl.com/20121126b

For the new Tourist Market District (TMD) vote, the City mailed out 1,379 Ballots.
127 Ballots Voted Yes.
218 Ballots Voted No.
1,034 Ballots did not vote on the TMD issue.

The votes are Weighted according to an unknown formula developed by the Hoteliers, supposedly based on rooms and revenue. For one ballot-one vote, the TMD failing with only 37 percent ballots approving the new tax. However the Weighted Vote approving the new San Diego TMD was 94 percent.

One ballot from the San Diego Marriot Marina with 1,362 hotels rooms alone allowed the new 2 percent TMD tax to pass.

http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs/news-ticker/2013/feb/24/mayor-filner-city-council-and-city-attorney-goldsm/

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Avatar for user 'fungshe'

fungshe | March 14, 2013 at 9:12 a.m. ― 1 year, 7 months ago

What sort of slanted article is this from KPBS! This city atty needs to GO! This is why elected attys do not work well. He is a staunch GOPer and his main goal is to discredit the dem mayor so the repubs can try to get back into the mayors seat nxt election. He should be focused on his job. Where is the KPBS article on how many cases this atty has lost! How much has he cost the taxpayers because his work has been so shoddy and he is focused on things other than his job! Filner is fixing the city so that the people finally have a place at city hall and they cannot stand it!!! He is dismantling decades of corrupt and unfair city politics and the developer and other corporate relationships and they are pissed! This article is terrible KPBS, you can do better! You are not supposed to be a VOSD you know! Maybe you should stop hanging with them so much! Yr stories and interviews are getting skewed. Or maybe its yr donors skewing them, all we know is the talk on the street is about what is happening with KPBS reporting these days. Jerry Sanders called the citizens who didn't agree with him on the destruction of Balboa Park "idiots" and refused to meet with citizens groups on all manner of issues and problems facing their neighborhoods, he told a fellow candiate to "F you" in public forum! and he called Demaio a BS'er... Where were yr lessons on civility then??

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Avatar for user 'Mmikey'

Mmikey | March 14, 2013 at 10:31 a.m. ― 1 year, 7 months ago

Just don't turn your back on him

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Avatar for user 'livingtourism'

livingtourism | March 14, 2013 at 11:01 a.m. ― 1 year, 7 months ago

As a citizen directly affected by the TMD funding, while attending a same event as Mayor Filner, I had an opportunity to stand up for my rights. We were in a room of 200ppl and he did not hesitate to show his temper when I expressed concerns about my potential loss of employment. He rapidly disagreed with my statement and quickly turned defensive, responding to me in an aggressive, abusive and foul mouthed attack. It is very discouraging to consider how our city will be run for the next 4 years if this is what we have to endure.

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Avatar for user 'spourat'

spourat | March 14, 2013 at 12:42 p.m. ― 1 year, 7 months ago

Recall Filner!!!!!!!!

Filner only wants to put Unions and his special interest first. He is out right trying to launder public money into union pockets. We need to organize and recall Filner and put a Mayor who will work with the city council and not for th special interest

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Avatar for user 'hueywayne'

hueywayne | March 14, 2013 at 1:34 p.m. ― 1 year, 7 months ago

For crying out loud! There are women fighter pilots and they're thinking of letting them try out for special operations. So they need special protection? And what of the attorney that wouldn't answer his question? Was she aware of Filner's propensity for combativeness? Sounds like a set up to me. So Goldsmith take his toys and goes home instead of doing his job. It's so much easier to attack a person's manners than it is to attack his position. Filner could certainly take a few lessons learned from Mike Aguirre but, he is up against entrenched adversaries who are used to getting their own way and will stop at nothing to keep it that way. Filner is certainly an SOB, but he's the people's SOB.

Don't let up Slugger!

Welcome to the big league of politics Goldsmith where everything isn't "please" and "thank you" and "no no, you go first"

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Avatar for user 'DonWood'

DonWood | March 14, 2013 at 2:41 p.m. ― 1 year, 7 months ago

Jay Goldsmith, who promised voters he would only be a one term city attorney, then reneged on that promise, is now trying to become San Diego's next mayor. He beat Mike Aguirre in part because Aguirre had a reputation in the media as being overly agressive with poor impulse control. Goldstone and his inhouse PR machine are now working to hang that same label on Mayor Filner, in hopes of beating Filner when he comes up for reelection. It's too bad that some of our local media are so focused on "let's you and him fight" reporting that they don't see the political game that Goldsmith is playing. Consider the source.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | March 14, 2013 at 3:31 p.m. ― 1 year, 7 months ago

janammackie: "During the mayoral race, Filner came across as rude and mean-spirited, to the point that I found myself turning off the televised debates because I just couldn't listen to him anymore."

Givespecifics. I watched the debates and never saw Filner be inappropriate. He was direct, and he was no more "combaitive" than Mr. Demaio or Ms. Dumanis.

janammackie: "I'm a passionate Democrat"

It's possible, but I looked at your commenting history and this is the only comment you have recorded with KPBS. Did you just discover this site? I'm wondering if you could be a Goldsmith operative posing as something you aren't, especially considering you have these thoughts in your head of Filner being rude in the debates, something which didn't happen. He defended himself when unfair attacks were made against hime by DeMaio that isn't rude - that's standing up for yourself. And Filner also stands up for the people of San Diego and against big corporate interests that DeMaio would have been arm-in-arm with.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | March 14, 2013 at 3:40 p.m. ― 1 year, 7 months ago

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

( )

Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | March 14, 2013 at 3:55 p.m. ― 1 year, 7 months ago

Something very interesting.

The three posters who are on here claiming Filner was "rude" to them or in front of them all posted within a few hours of each other, and are all brand new posters in which their post here on this article is the only one they have ever made.

My guess is Goldsmith has some supporters who are making up troll names to come in here and sway the argument.

I agree with Don Wood's post above, Goldsmith and his political operatives brought down Aguirre by making him look like an out of control nut, and they are trying to do the same thing to Filner.

Both Filner and Aguirre are a little like Joe Biden - yeah they might have a looser filter than most politicians, but at least they are real people not afraid to stand up for what they think is right even if it isn't "politically polite" to do so.

I hope the rabid vultures that comprise San Diego's right-wing insider's club who swirl around all day planning how they can cannibalize their next prey using the wormy Goldsmith as bait fail in their overt attempt at annihilating Filner.

These Drama Queens need to be exposed, lift up the curtain and I'm certain you will find people like Manchester and Demaio pulling Golschmuck's strings.

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Avatar for user 'philosopher3000'

philosopher3000 | March 14, 2013 at 5:05 p.m. ― 1 year, 7 months ago

Let's be straight-up clear here:
The purpose of the STRONG MAYOR is to LEAD THE CITY
The purpose of the CITY ATTORNEY is a STAFF position.

The current City Attorney, Jan Goldsmith, is a shill for the downtown banks and developers and always has been. The City Attorney's office is the most expensive part of the City bureaucracy, with staff making $300,000/year and up. Their are 100 lawyers in Goldsmith's office and they have a lot to lose if reforms are implemented. Even more if their outside connections are exposed as corrupting the City Government.

Filner is reformer, he came to fix the City, and Goldsmith is part of the old guard that fears such reform. "TONE" means nothing when you go into a den of vipers, you just pull out your sword and cut off their heads. Even if the community college professor thinks differently, we can play nice with people's feelings once we have a functioning city.

----
Let's have Goldsmith on KPBS once per month to answer for his unethical actions.

http://www.10news.com/news/mayor-bob-filner-city-attorney-jan-goldsmith-exchange-words-during-news-conference-022013

Actual watch the video of Goldsmith's Press Conference.

City Attorney Goldsmith approved the City Council decision to move booking and sales of the Convention Center to the private Tourism Authority through a Quid Pro Quo arrangement. The No-Bid Contract did not follow Managed Competition guidelines.

The deal included that the Hoteliers would not vote against the new 2 percent TMD or 3 percent Special tax in exchange for moving Convention Center Booking to the private Tourism Authority.

The Hoteliers have stated they wanted to move the lucrative smaller medical convention from our public Convention Center (that pays down our annual $14 million public debt for Phase 2) to private Hotels owned by Tourism Authority Board Members. Major Conflict of Interest.

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Avatar for user 'DonWood'

DonWood | March 14, 2013 at 5:59 p.m. ― 1 year, 7 months ago

Presumably, Goldsmith is banking on getting big contributions from the hotel owners fo his upcoming mayoral campaign.

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Avatar for user 'janammackie'

janammackie | March 14, 2013 at 9:18 p.m. ― 1 year, 7 months ago

Peking_Duck_SD: I expressed my opinion and you have every right you yours. My comments were only in regards to Mayor Filner's demeanor, not his politics.

And you are correct this is my first post. I was listening to the story on Filner and felt inspired to comment. So there you go. I find it amusing that a normal girl like me signing up to post her thoughts on KPBS is the source of conspiracy theories. Talk about entering the viper's den ;)

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Avatar for user 'chrisinsd'

chrisinsd | March 15, 2013 at 9:15 a.m. ― 1 year, 7 months ago

OMG! A crumpled up piece of paper! My goodness, the Mayor could have put someone's eye out. And, a frail, helpless woman like the second in command in the City Attorney's Office ... Jan definitely needs to pay someone in his office to document any paper cuts! When are people going to realize that Goldsmith is a far right wing wacko who will do or say anything to make Filner look bad, as he did when he ran against Aguirre. Oh, and Aguirre's crimes? Doing the type of crap Goldsmith is up to now, like refusing to represent his client the Mayor. It would be funny if it weren't hurting our city!

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Avatar for user 'justthetruth'

justthetruth | March 15, 2013 at 11:25 a.m. ― 1 year, 7 months ago

Why do most libs who don't agree with any conservative feel the need to insult the conservative instead of just discussing the issue. My past experience tell me that people like that understand that their argument can't make it in the light of day so it is easier to insult and demean. To throw anything from as little to a piece of paper at someone you disagree with is unacceptable, childish and to comment about someones hair piece has no place here and has no bearing on the issue. actions like this in the private sector will get you fired.

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