Filner Vows To Move Forward As Mayor In Recall Response
Mayor Bob Filner's formal response to the effort to recall him reads like a campaign flier, listing accomplishments and failing to mention the sexual harassment claims against him.
He submitted his response to the effort to recall him late Monday, just shy of the deadline for him to do so.
Filner had until midnight Monday to respond to the notice of intent to recall him, which was published in U-T San Diego by land use consultant Michael Pallamary, homemaker Elisa Brent and LGBT Weekly publisher Stampp Corbin.
The response was sent out by Filner's lawyers, Payne & Fears. It read:
"Now is not the time to go backwards — back to the time when middle-class jobs and neighborhood infrastructure were sacrificed to Downtown special interests. We need to continue to move forward!"
It also listed several initiatives Filner says he has accomplished during his eight months in office, including "a creative vision for our Balboa Park Centennial," recruiting planners to "transform our neighborhoods into livable, walkable and bikeable adventures" and bringing "the City’s arts and culture to new levels."
Filner's response was not received by the official recall campaign and was not signed by Filner — both requirements under recall law — but the recall campaign will still publish it in U-T San Diego, said Rachel Laing, spokeswoman for the recall effort. Publishing an elected official's response to a recall is one of the steps in the recall process.
"Mayor Bob Filner obviously believes his policy initiatives excuse his being a sexual predator," Pallamary said in a statement responding to Filner's letter. "His reply is unacceptable. San Diegans want a mayor that doesn't grope and demean women, who doesn't abuse his office to satisfy a perverted quest for a sense of power, and who has the ability to lead our great city — an ability Filner can never, ever reclaim."
Signature gathering for the recall can begin Aug. 18. Recall organizers have until Sept. 26 to gather 101,597 signatures.
Pallmary said Monday that recall organizers have raised thousands of dollars and have received an "overwhelming" response from people offering to volunteer.
The mayor’s chief of staff Lee Burdick echoed the message of the mayor’s statement when she appeared at a meeting of the Downtown Lion’s Club on Tuesday. The club often has luncheons where local newsmakers speak--in the past couple of months they’ve hosted both Filner and City Council President Todd Gloria.
Burdick called these turbulent times in the city of San Diego, but she kept on message, talking about the mayor’s “vision” for the city and trying to move the focus from scandal to policy. She said the mayor believes in strong neighborhoods, in strong environmental progress and she said he is still trying to get a bi-national San Diego-Tijuana Olympics off the ground.
While Burdick didn’t take questions from the press, she did respond to questions from the audience.
She said she was the one who had the locks changed at the mayor’s office while he is gone. She said she didn’t want to make room for allegations of evidence tampering, so she changed the locks and is keeping the key safe so no one can get in or out.
Burdick also asserted it was her, in conversation with Filner, who established the policy that no women can be alone with him. She said City Attorney Jan Goldsmith was having similar conversations with Walt Ekard, the city’s chief operating officer, about restricting the mayor’s contact with women. She said it was a prudent step given the seriousness of the charges of sexual harassment that had become public.
When asked if the controversy surrounding the mayor amounted to a witch hunt, Burdick said no.
“I could not in good conscience suggest this is a witch hunt driven by political motivations that breach deep down into the roots of a conspiracy theory," she said.
Burdick also told the crowd that the mayor could still continue to implement his vision, but she said he might have to walk a bit more softly. While he is still a strong mayor, she told him that he could no longer strong-arm the City Council. She said she told him, “you’re not going to be able to scream and yell at the council. You’re not going to be able to threaten them with a sustainable veto."