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San Diego Council Votes To Direct Filner To Sign TMD Agreement

The standoff between Mayor Bob Filner and the Tourism Marketing District continued today after the City Council voted 6 to 1 to specifically instruct Filner to sign an agreement with the TMD.

The San Diego City Council today approved a resolution requiring Mayor Bob Filner to sign a TMD agreement, even though a judge has ruled the mayor can withhold his signature.

Photo by Guillermo Sevilla

Mayor Bob Filner speaks after crashing a press conference held by City Attorney Jan Goldsmith.

In November, the City Council renewed the agreement for nearly 40 years with the TMD, which advertises San Diego as a vacation destination. Then-Mayor Jerry Sanders did not sign the agreement releasing administrative funds before he left office.

Filner has so far refused to sign the agreement because he says it's a bad deal for the city. City Attorney Jan Goldsmith said Tuesday if the council wants Filner to sign, they must pass a resolution directing him to sign. The council passed that resolution, with Councilwoman Marti Emerald casting the lone "no" vote.

But Filner said he could veto the City Council resolution. The council could then override that veto with six votes. The 6 to 1 vote tally from today’s meeting suggests they may have enough.

"As you know, I can veto the resolution," Filner said. "You can override the veto. I can refuse to sign it. We can go back to court."

Filner added that he and TMD Chairman Terry Brown had been very close to reaching an agreement before Tuesday's council meeting.

Filner had issued a counter-offer to the TMD earlier this month, which included stronger indemnification in case a judge rules against the agency's funding mechanism, challenged in a separate court action. It also required the TMD to put money toward Balboa Park's 2015 centennial celebration. The agency rejected the demands and took the mayor to court.

San Diego Superior Court Judge Timothy Taylor on Friday ruled that Filner had discretion to not sign an operating agreement with the TMD.

Goldsmith pointed out that Taylor's ruling stated if the council specifically directed Filner to sign, that would be a "complete game changer" in his decision.

"If passed, that resolution would make clear the current Mayor's obligation to forthwith sign the contract which was not signed by Mayor Sanders before he left office," Taylor's ruling said.

Goldsmith joked that "mayors do not like to be directed to do something." He went on to say that under Sanders' administration, council resolutions "authorized" the mayor to do something instead of "directing" him. "Authorizing" Sanders did not create a problem, Goldsmith said, "because it was a working relationship."

According to council's resolution passed Tuesday, the mayor's obligation to sign the agreement is a "ministerial duty'' and "he has no discretion to refuse to sign said Operating Agreement, and has no authority to further negotiate said Operating Agreement.''

The TMD receives a 2 percent surcharge on room rates. Money also goes to organizations that stage events that attract visitors. A $5.4 million campaign advertising San Diego as a vacation destination this summer has been put on hold.

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Claire Trageser
Investigative Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksAs a member of the KPBS investigative team, my job is to hold the powerful in San Diego County accountable. I've done in-depth investigations on political campaigns, police officer misconduct and neighborhood quality of life issues.

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