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Former Filner Chief Of Staff Writes Tell-All Book

Portrait of Lee Burdick, chief of staff to former San Diego Mayor Bob Filner.
Prima Publishing Group
Portrait of Lee Burdick, chief of staff to former San Diego Mayor Bob Filner.
Former Filner Chief Of Staff Writes Tell-All Book
Former Filner Chief Of Staff Writes Tell-All Book
Former Filner Chief Of Staff Writes Tell-All Book GUEST:Lee Burdick, author, "Bob Filner's Monster: The Unraveling of an American Mayor and What We Can Learn From It"

This is KPBS that they addition and I am Maureen Cavanaugh. After years of silence former mayor Box Elder return to the news earlier this month giving an interview. He claimed never to have been sexually harassed anyone. Now there is more about Box Elder and a new book by his former chief of staff. Is an insider's account of the sexual scandal that brought down the mayor back in 2013. The verdict joins us now. This is not exactly a time that anyone wants to revisit. I'm wondering why you wrote this book. There are several reasons why I thought this was an important book to be shared. Particularly during an election cycle when we as a city, a region and a country are choosing who is next. Who is next to represent us at our highest office? There are lessons to be learned from what happened to and with Bob that I think ought to be considered as we make those important election choices. You talk about the woman who came forward to expose his behavior. You characterize them as heroes. I'm wondering how do you reconcile that with your staying with him after those allegations came out and even strategizing how he might stay in office. I was faced with some horrible choices during that time. As the women were coming out, I knew that we needed to allow them to have their voices heard, have their stories considered and investigated. I believed there was a process that needed to happen in order to give their allegations the serious consideration they certainly deserved. At the same time, we had a city to run. Bob continued to be the mayor of the city until the day his resignation became effective. He had a staff of 30 people who had changed their lives in order to come work for his agenda. The issues that the people elected him to advance. We continue to do that. Marine I will be honest, there came a time when I had to become their greatest protector. I have to protect them from him. What did you know about his sexual advances towards women before the scandal broke? I knew nothing of his sexual proclivities before I joined his administration. While you were in it was my While I was in the administration as I share in the book, there was one very early example where I was working late about six or eight weeks into the administration. I was the only one in the office -- it was 1030 at night and I was leaving. I stayed late to clear off my desk. And elevators open he stepped out without his security detail and with a relatively petite blonde woman behind him who I assumed with his fiancée. He asked me what are you doing here? I said I am cleaning off my desk from the holiday weekend. He said, yes me too. With one of his really sly grants. As he turned and walked away I realized the woman behind him was not his fiancée. He was bringing this woman into the offices late at night and day -- in a sexy dress and what was I to make of that? What did you make of it? I inferred that they were coming to have six. When he said he was cleaning off his desk I don't think his reference was to city business. At the same time, I was his senior legal advisor. I had a duty of confidentiality to help. So I did not bring that out but it caused me to have serious questions and to be much more alert going for it. And that interview I alluded to, he also said there were not any mental health problems associated with his case. Do you agree with that? I think Bob is rewriting history because in his own words, at the sentencing hearing for his criminal charges back in December 2013, his attorney made it clear to the judge in an effort to get the courts raised in sentencing that he had been treated for years by congressional doctors for anxiety and mood swings. That one of the alleged contributing factors to his behaviors was that when he moved back to San Diego to become mayor he stopped taking his medication. He stopped exercising creating the perfect storm for his atrocious behavior. In your book you use the word dementia. I explore a lot of different possibilities. At that time, Maureen, people were throwing out theories, everyone was trying to figure out why he did what he did. I have an entire chapter devoted to that. Dementia was just one of the many possibilities as to why he would behave and make the horrible choices he did. Didn't seem likely? It seemed passable. I was considering brain tumors, chronic depression, certainly dementia at his age possibly early onset Alzheimer's. We ran the gamut -- but I will tell you I was so busy just trying to keep the city running that I did not have a lot of time to give it much thought. In your book you say he may not be the only villain in the story. Who are the other villains? At times there were a lot of people doing bad things to get a justifiable result. I want to be clear, my book is not an apology for him. The result of getting him out of office was exactly what needed to happen. He was not worthy of the office of the Mayor and the seventh largest city in the country. And yet I point out in a variety of different stories they were elected officials, that were moving to the right result but using that ends to justify the wrong means. One of those officials city attorney Jan Goldsmith. Correct What do you write about him in your book? Jan's name appears throughout. To give you the larger story, he and Bob were doomed, stated to a horrible Greek tragedy. From long before the mayor was elected to office. Of course Jan Goldsmith being an attorney had all kinds of duties and obligations the old his clients. One of the first things he did was indoors the client he wanted to have, proud DeMaio and that mayoral election. And then was forced to represent Bob is mayor. The politically opposite extreme. So Bob knew and I agreed with him as did a large part of the community that he needed his own lawyer. He could not trust Jan Goldsmith. What kind of attorney client relationship can you have if you simply cannot trust your lawyer and believe him to be acting on his own political agenda 1st it was doomed from the beginning person and you say you wrote the book because we are in an election cycle now and there are lessons to be learned. What are some of the lessons that you think should be learned from what happened to San Diego and what happened during the administration? Initially I think the largest lesson to be learned is what do we do with women when they are the primary victims? Of course it happens to men to. Men are often the victims of sexual harassment and abuse. It is still primarily women that are victims. How can we as a society create an environment in which they stand up for themselves? Some of these women had waited 25 years to tell their story. At the time he was elected to office there were 16 women who later came out claiming they had been assaulted or offended before he was elected. And get on the San Diego voters went to the polls, they did not know any of that. So we have to create an environment in which the victims of these kinds of offenses are willing to come out in a timely fashion so that we don't create situations where monsters hold our highest elected offices and we don't know it. What are you doing now? I am consulting behind the scenes on a couple of political campaigns. Helping them with crises avoidance. And strategic messaging. Also a little bit of legal work from high-tech and communications clients. I really don't feel I have landed yet. Following the devastation of the tragedy. The author is Lee Burdick -- Inc. you for talking with us. Thank you for inviting me.

Former Filner Chief Of Staff Writes Tell-All Book
Lee Burdick's book, "Bob Filner's Monster: The Unraveling of an American Mayor and What We Can Learn From It," is an insider's account of the sexual harassment scandal that brought down San Diego's mayor.

Former San Diego Mayor Bob Filner's chief of staff is out with a new book on her experience during the sexual harassment scandal that brought down the mayor.

In the book "Bob Filner's Monster: The Unraveling of an American Mayor and What We Can Learn From It," Lee Burdick shares what she went through in the 9 months as a key member of Filner's team.

"This is an important story that needs to be told for several reasons," Burdick said. "The primary one is people deserve to know how their government operates. While the media covered this scandal relentlessly there was so much going on behind the scenes that I think the people need to know, particularly in an election cycle."

After years of silence, former San Diego Mayor Bob Filner returned to the news earlier this month by giving an interview to online news organization Voice of San Diego.

In it, he claimed never to have sexually harassed anyone.

Burdick said she admires the courage of the women who came forward to expose Filner, and said she was torn about continuing to work for him after the sexual harassment allegations were revealed.

"I didn't stand by him. I stood by an agenda by the people of San Diego to ensure that they continue to receive the government they voted for," she said.

Burdick talks about her time in the mayor's office Monday on Midday.

"Bob Filner's Monster, The Unraveling of an American Mayor and What We Can Learn from It," will be available on Amazon and other online book retailers Feb. 8.

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