Roundtable: Mayor Filner's Bad Week, Part II
This week, the details of accusations of sexual harassment against the mayor got more specific. If true, some may amount to sexual battery.
In the face of those accusations, last night's meeting of the San Diego County Democratic Central Committee saw a party evenly divided between those who wanted the mayor to resign and those who asked for due process to be played out.
Though more detailed, the accusations thus far do not include crucial details like names and dates or complaints filed with authorities.
On Monday, former San Diego City Councilwoman Donna Frye and attorney Marco Gonzalez held a press conference where they spoke of three women who they said received unwanted sexual attention from the mayor: a constituent, a campaign volunteer and a city employee. Frye and Gonzalez said the mayor would corner these women and then kiss or grope them while they tried to get away.
As a result of Monday’s press conference, the terms “Filner Dance” and “Filner Headlock” made their way into the local lexicon, and the public saw the rare site of a very angry Donna Frye. Elsewhere, 10News reporter Mitch Blacher interviewed a woman who lobbied then-Congressman Filner on behalf of the California Association of Realtors. Her story was similar to those told by Gonzalez and Frye. She, also, was unidentified.
In Mayor Filner’s first statement to the media, delivered to the press on DVD the day after the accusations were made public, he acknowledged he had behaved badly, had intimidated some of his staff and needed help.
The next day, there was none of that. Filner said he was the elected mayor, would not resign and would be vindicated by a fair and impartial investigation.
In an interview with KUSI, he said he was a "hugger" and demonstrative, both toward men and women. To a Univision reporter, he said the entire situation was brought about because of his own “human frailties” and that the "monster was inside him."
In addition to the mayor, local political figures added their own statements to the mix, including calls for his resignation from Susan Davis, Scott Peters, Toni Atkins, Todd Gloria, Lorena Gonzalez and Kevin Faulconer, among others. Former Assembly Member Lori Saldana, however, said the accusations have not met the burden of criminal proof and Filner should stay put.
It’s reasonable to assume San Diego’s notoriously micromanaging mayor is a bit distracted these days fending off allegations of sexual harassment, investigations by local media and calls for his resignation. But new accusations and questions continue to pop up, and the mayor finds himself engaged in a high-stakes game of whack-a-mole.
The mayor lost several high-profile staff members before and during this scandal, including Deputy Chief of Staff Allen Jones, Chief of Staff Vince Hall and Communications Director Irene McCormack. So who’s running the store down at city hall?
Walt Ekard, San Diego County’s former chief administrator, has taken over as the city’s interim chief operating officer. Ekard has apparently been given the power to approve city contracts, give orders to employees and select top management officials.
Some are asking whether the business community's support for Ekard’s appointment amounts to de facto support for Filner. Scott Lewis notes that Ekard's appointment is an integral part of political consultant Tom Shepard’s attempt to mount a Filner comeback.
Meanwhile, a recall effort is underway.