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Filner Announces Staff Changes, Appointments In Wake Of Allegations

Mayor Bob Filner today announced staff changes in his office and new appointments to three posts within the city.

Filner's New Staff
Filner added or replaced several members of his staff.
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The staff changes come less than a week after three key supporters publicly asked Filner to resign as mayor because of sexual harassment allegations that have come to light recently.

In a memo, Filner reiterated that he will not step down from his post and shared that he had appointed Walt Ekard to the job of Interim Chief Operating Officer. Ekard is well known in San Diego politics, having served the county of San Diego for more than 20 years.


According to the statement, Ekard has appointed Scott Chadwick, the current interim Chief Operating Officer, as assistant chief operating officer. Judy VonKalinowski, the current interim director of the city's human relations department, was appointed to hold that job permanently.

Staff changes were included in a separate memo:

Tony Buckles will serve as Filner's new chief of staff. Vince Hall, who previously held that post, said he could no longer stay in the Mayor's office because of the harassment allegations. He resigned Friday and announced the decision via Twitter.

Lee Burdick will act as the mayor's deputy chief of staff. Willie Blair will be the assistant to the chief of staff and Nelson Hernandez will act as Filner's director of policy.

In his statement, he added "Some who have called for my resignation have justified it with the claim that the operations of the City will somehow be compromised by the current controversy ... Today's announcements make clear the operations of City government will not be negatively impacted."


“I do not believe I am guilty of sexual harassment, and I believe a full presentation of the facts will vindicate me," he wrote.

Filner also penned an op-ed piece published Monday evening in the U-T San Diego in which he elaborated on his plans and again stressed his innocence. He acknowledged being a tough boss writing, "as mayor, I have very high expectations for our City, and when people I’m counting on don’t perform, I get upset. I now recognize that approach has been seen by some as disrespectful."

But Filner denied that his brusque demeanor ever crossed the line into sexual harassment saying, "there’s a big difference between being a difficult guy to work for and being guilty of sexual harassment, as has recently been alleged."