Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
KPBS Midday Edition

Former San Diego Mayor Bob Filner Breaks His Silence

San Diego Mayor Bob Filner on the set of KPBS Evening Edition, February 2013.
KPBS
San Diego Mayor Bob Filner on the set of KPBS Evening Edition, February 2013.

Former San Diego Mayor Bob Filner Breaks His Silence
Former San Diego Mayor Bob Filner Breaks His Silence GUEST: Lisa Halverstadt, reporter, Voice of San Diego

In a Voice of San Diego interview former Mayor Bob Filner talks about what might have been and what he said he didn't do. Will discuss some reasons why it is turning into the worst in where ever on Wall Street. This is KPBS Midday Edition. I am warning Cavanagh. It is Wednesday, January 20. First up former Mayor Bob Filner says he never harassed anyone in an interview he gave this week to San Diego's Lisa Halverstadt. He talked about homeless veterans and the Chargers but insisted the harassment allegations against him were largely fantasy. And he fell back on his claims of a conspiracy to bring him down. I spoke with reporter Lisa Halverstadt earlier today. How did this interview come about after two years of silence from Bob Filner quick I had been recently reporting a lot on homelessness and particular veteran homelessness. That's an issue near and dear to Bob Filner. He was once the house chair on Veterans Affairs. He sent me an email last week and suggested Dashwood I like another perspective on veteran homelessness. Given his stature on veterans issues in the past, I said of course. Obviously I wasn't going to just ask him about veteran homelessness. What followed was a call. We talked for about an hour. We talked about everything from veteran homelessness to the charges against him to the Chargers and much more. What did he have to say about San Diego's homeless situation? Bob Filner's concerned that he doesn't feel it has been prioritized enough in San Diego. In particular it comes to veterans. The federal government has set a lot of goals and San Diego -- as he would say, has fallen behind other cities. He would see like more leadership -- more leadership on this issue. Lisa you asked him if he was sorry for what happened when he was Mayor. And he said he gave them the ammunition and they pulled the trigger. What he meant by that He said in the past that he feels that folks were out to get him from the moment he stepped into the Mayor's office. He talks about the fact that he feels that he brought a new way of operating to City Hall that people who had been meeting in the city and folks in the Republican Party who had been holding the Mayor's office for a long time, didn't really support. He felt from the moment -- again that he stepped into the Mayor's office, there was a target on his back. What did he say about the many allegations of sexual harassment against him? Filner claims he did not sexually harass anyone despite the fact I pointed out obviously there were almost a dozen women who came forward and accused him of sexual harassment. In fact he says, he felt those were fantasies. That he things were made up. In fact I will read this quote directly, he said, I said there was no sexual harassment and most of the things made up in are fantasies. Again I have proof of this. He basically claimed that there were police officers with him all of the time as part of his please detail. They could confirm the sexual harassment did not happen. Obviously, there are some questions about whether those officers would have been with him at every moment and private meeting. Just in the last hour there has been sort of a roar of dispute about what the former Mayor said about that. Yes. Some of the women who had publicly accused Filner of sexual harassment and other misbehavior have come forward and talked and said they are disgusted by some of the comments he made. Also many of them said they were not surprised by this response either. How did the former Mayor sound Lisa? Was his conversation focused? It was interesting. I talked to him several times -- many times, covering the middle -- Mayor's office. He is actually much calmer now than I had ever heard. He did remember a lot of details. From what had occurred. There was something -- he disputed that. In the past there were concerns about his mental health. He is really adamant that there weren't any mental health concerns and that was just fiction. Certainly after this interview, some people are raising questions about his mental state. I do remember Filner's defense lawyer said, the former Mayor's mood stabilizing medications were disrupted when he was Mayor. As you say, you addressed the issue of his mental health. What did former Mayor Filner say -- whether no mental health issues? Yes. He said that was just fiction. And he made a reference to the fact that city attorney -- attorney had hired a psychologist with out speaking about that. That psychologist had never spoken with him. Let's go back to a moment that -- other things he talked about. That he say he could have kept the Chargers in San Diego? What he did say was that he was the only Mayor that would have supported a downtown Stadium concept. His vision was essentially -- it wouldn't just be a football Stadium. It would be a sports arena and probably an events facility as well. Through that he would've freed up the mission Valley property and the other property that were city owned and there could of been opportunities to support the city's side of the Stadium cost. I did reach out to Mark [ name unknown ] the Stadium point man for the Chargers. He agreed Filner was the only Mayor who ever agreed with this vision that the Chargers had. As I understand it, Bob Filner is living in Los Angeles. Given his concerns about homelessness, is he working in any way with the homeless in Los Angeles? Bob told me he is actually spending time on skid row and has volunteered -- volunteered. He didn't elaborate his specific role other than to say he goes and talks to people on skid row and helps however he can. What is Bob Filner's legal status now? He has a handful of cases that are still going through the process. He is on some of those cases being represented by the city attorney office. I had been speaking with Lisa Halverstadt. You can find her article at Voice of San Diego. You can find her article@VoiceofSanDiegoofSanDiegoDiego.org. Thank you so much. KPBS has contacted Bob's attorney for response and so far we have not heard back.

Former San Diego Mayor Bob Filner said in a wide-ranging interview, published this week by online news organization Voice of San Diego, that he never sexually harassed anyone.

Filner was resigned in 2013 after less than a year in office when more than a dozen women came forward alleging sexual harassment and other sexual misconduct by the mayor. He pleaded guilty to two counts of misdemeanor battery and one count of felony false imprisonment. He was sentenced to home confinement and is now on probation.

The ex-mayor talked to Voice of San Diego's Lisa Halverstadt about homeless veterans and the Chargers, but he also insisted the harassment allegations against him were largely fantasy.

VOSD: The Return of Bob Filner

The following is a transcript of Halverstadt's interview with KPBS Midday Edition.

How did this interview come about after two years of silence from Bob Filner?

I had been recently reporting a lot on homelessness, in particular veteran homelessness, and that's an issue that's really near and dear to Bob Filner. He was actually once the chair of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs. He sent me an email last week and suggested that would I like another perspective on veteran homelessness, and given his stature on veterans issues in the past I said of course. But obviously I wasn't just going to ask him about veteran homelessness. What followed was a call. We talked for about an hour. We talked about everything from veteran homelessness, to the charges against him, to the Chargers and much more.

What did he have to say about San Diego's homeless situation?

Bob Filner's concerned that he doesn't feel this has been prioritized enough in San Diego, in particular when it comes to veterans. The federal government has set a lot of goals and San Diego, as he would say, too, as well, has really fallen behind other cities in combating this, and he would like to see more leadership on this issue.

You asked him if he was sorry for what happened when he was mayor and he said, "I gave them the ammunition and they pulled the trigger." Did he explain what he meant by that?

He's said in the past that he feels that folks were out to get him from the moment that he stepped into the mayor's office. He talks about the fact that he feels that he brought a new way of operating to City Hall. That people who'd been leading in the city and folks in the Republican Party who had been holding the mayor's office for a long time didn't really support him. So he felt that from the moment he stepped into the mayor's office that there was a target on his back.

What did he say about the many allegations of sex harassment made against him?

Interestingly, Filner claims that he did not sexually harass anyone, despite the fact that I did point out, that obviously there were almost two dozen women that came forward and accused him of sexual harassment. And, in fact, he says that he felt that those were fantasies, that these things were made up. I'll just read this quote directly, he said, "I said there was no sexual harassment and most of the things were made up, are fantasies and again I have proof of this." And he basically claimed that there were police officers with him all the time as part of his police detail, and that they could confirm that the sexual harassment in fact did not happen. Obviously, there are some questions about whether those officers would have been with him at every moment and every private meeting that might have come up.

Just in the last hours there has been sort of a roar of dispute about what the former mayor said about that.

Yes, some of the women who had publicly accused Filner of sexual harassment and other misbehavior have come forward and talked to the Union-Tribune and said that they're just disgusted by some of the comments that he made. But also many of them said that they were not surprised by this response either.

U-T: Women fire back at Filner’s sex harassment denials

How did the former mayor sound? Was his conversation focused?

I talked to him several times, or many times really, covering the mayor's office and City Hall, and I would say he's actually much calmer now than I had ever heard. And he did obviously remember a lot of details from what had occurred, but there were some things that he disputed. In the past there were concerns, right as he was leaving the mayor's office and just before, about his mental health, and he's really adamant that there weren't any mental health concerns and that was just fiction. But certainly after this interview some people are raising questions about his mental state.

I do remember that Filner's defense lawyer once said that the former mayor's mood stabilizing medications were disrupted when he was mayor. As you say, you addressed the issue of his mental health, did former Mayor Filner say that there were no mental health issues?

Yes, he said that that was just fiction, and made a reference to the fact that City Attorney Jan Goldsmith had hired a psychologist but that that psychologist had never spoken to him.

Did he say that he could have kept the Chargers in San Diego?

What he did say was that he was the only mayor that would have supported a downtown stadium concept. His vision was that essentially it wouldn't just be a football stadium. It would be both a sports arena and probably an events facility as well, and through that he would have freed up both the Mission Valley property and the Sports Arena property, which are city owned, and there could have been revenue opportunities to support the city's side of the stadium cost. I did reach out to Mark Fabiani, who is the stadium point man for the Chargers, and he did agree that Filner was actually the only mayor who ever agreed with this vision that the Chargers had had.

As I understand it, Bob Filner is now living in Los Angeles. Given his concerns about homelessness, is he working in any way with the homeless in L.A.?

Bob told me that he is actually spending time on Skid Row and has volunteered a bit. But he didn't elaborate as to what his specific role has been other than to say that he goes and talks to people on Skid Row and helps how he can.

What's Bob Filner's legal status now?

He has a handful of cases that are going through the process, as I understand. He is on some of those cases being represented by the City Attorney's Office.