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Filner scandal 10 years later

 August 23, 2023 at 5:00 AM PDT

Good Morning, I’m Debbie Cruz….it’s Wednesday, August 23rd.


It’s been 10 years since a former San Diego mayor resigned in the midst of a sexual harassment scandal.

More on that next. But first... let’s do the headlines….


The San Diego County Water Authority filed a lawsuit earlier this week against the county's Local Agency Formation Commission, or LAFCO, over its decision to allow the Fallbrook Public Utility District and Rainbow Municipal Water District to leave the water authority.

The two north county districts say they want to buy cheaper water from another agency.

The lawsuit claims LAFCO did not follow proper procedures before allowing the water districts to leave.

Water authority general manager Dan Denham (denim – like jeans) says that includes conducting a ceqa analysis under the California Environmental Quality Act.

“Currently, the water authority has very little reliance upon the sensitive sacramento bay delta area. by leaving the water authority, rainbow and fallbrook will increase their demand on that sensitive area, which is of great concern to the state of california.”

In a statement, LAFCO executive officer Keene Simonds says the suit is disappointing but not surprising… and the agency is ready to defend its decision.


San Diego County has felt more like Florida this week because of Tropical Storm Hilary.

We’ve had rain, thunderstorms, winds, humidity and heat.

It’s expected to get even hotter in the county’s inland areas.

Temps are forecast in the low 80s today.

Low 70s at the coast, high 70s in the mountains, and low 100s in the deserts.


Tijuana’s little league All-star baseball team has advanced to the next round of games.

The team will be playing against Japan in the Little League World Series today.

If Mexico wins, the team will be two games away from the World Series Championship game.


Coming up… It’s been 10 years since Bob Filner resigned as San Diego mayor amid a barrage of sexual harassment allegations from nearly 20 women.

“They really showed the country, well before the Me Too movement, or this iteration of the Me Too movement that this was possible.”

More on that story, coming up, just after the break.


Before there was Me-too in 20-17, there was the Bob Filner sexual harassment scandal.

Investigative reporter Amita Sharma looks back at the allegations against the then San Diego mayor and fallout since he agreed to resign 10 years ago today.

“I had to work and do my job in an atmosphere where women were viewed by Mayor Filner as sexual objects or stupid idiots.” On July 22, 2013, San Diegans learned about their mayor Bob Filner from then city hall staffer Irene McCormack Jackson…what many women had known for years. ”I had been placed in Filner headlock while he moved me around as a ragdoll while he whispered sexual comments in my ear.” Filner’s misconduct extended beyond his staff as San Diego businesswoman Patti Roscoe described to KPBS. “He would come in and try and kiss me on the lips and I’d have to squirm to get away. Ultimately, at least 19 women came forward. The revelations sent shockwaves throughout San Diego and made national headlines. The tenure of the city’s first Democratic mayor in a generation was over in just nine months. But more importantly, women who had suffered in silence found their voice. “I always say courage is contagious.” Famed womens’ rights lawyer Gloria Allred represented Jackson and settled the former staffer’s sexual harassment lawsuit against the city for $250,000. On August 23rd, 2013, Filner agreed to resign … but he was defiant “Not one allegation, members of the council, has ever been independently verified, or proven in court. I have never sexually harassed anyone.” Yet, in October of that year he pleaded guilty to false imprisonment and battery charges involving three women. He was sentenced to three months home confinement and three years probation. Now, 10 years later, the Filner saga can be seen as a precursor to a much larger reckoning. The 2017 Me Too Movement changed the international conversation about sexual harassment. Suddenly, powerful men were being held accountable and employers rushed to beef up mandatory workplace training. But what’s really changed? Just this year, San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, a Democrat, resigned after a San Diego Metropolitan Transit Agency staffer accused him of sexual assault. Nationally, Allred says sexual harassment remains rampant. Still, she says there IS good news. This year, a new federal law took effect. It exempted sexual harassment from nondisclosure agreements people sign when they start a job. And….“the good news is that many women are just not going to put up with this anymore and they are going to fight back.” Julia Roginsky co-founded the New York-based nonprofit Lift Our Voices that advocates for safe workplaces. She says the Filner scandal was transformative for women, transcending their own humiliation, uniting for support and declaring enough is enough. “They really showed the country well before the MeToo movement really kicked off, or this iteration of the MeToo movement kicked off that this was possible.” Roginsky says another watershed moment was  when Filner’s political ally, former San Diego City Councilwoman Donna Frye said this … We want the women of this city and the people who love them to know that sexual abuse and this behavior is not normal. They are not to blame. Bob Filner is to blame .” Roginsky points to Frye’s words as foundational to what eventually became Me Too. “ You're talking about a major city, you're talking about a mayor who was the first mayor of his party to be elected in decades. And yet here were members of his own party, members of his own staff calling him to account. that was something incredibly monumental” Little is known about what Filner is doing now. In 2018, he publicly apologized again for his actions and asked for redemption. Amita Sharma, KPBS News.


The Biden administration’s already contentious decision to continue with a Trump-era border wall replacement in the San Diego region has sparked another controversy.

Once the current wall is removed, hundreds of murals may be gone forever.

Border reporter Gustavo Solis spoke with one local artist.

On the Tijuana side of the border, the fence that divides the U.S. and Mexico is a canvas. The border wall is filled with murals. The artwork includes messages about undocumented immigrants, deported veterans, migratory birds …even astronauts. Enrique Chiu is an artist who’s been painting murals along the border since 2016. He says the work is slowly vanishing. “Realmente no vamos a poder recuperar el muro.” Customs and Border Protection says a private contractor is responsible for disposing of the murals. But as of Tuesday, CBP officials hadn’t given the contractor’s name to KPBS. One section is already lost. A portion of the wall near the Pacific Ocean once featured colorful paintings. Now it’s just a rusty metal fence and some barbed wire. Although he’s sad about the loss, Chui is ready to paint again. “Que pongan el nuevo muro para pintarlo. Necesitamos darle otra vez esa expresión a este espacio.” He plans to start on new murals as soon as the border wall is replaced. Gustavo Solis KPBS News.


San Diego officials use data linking homeless encampments to brush fires.

But as inewsource reporter Crystal Niebla explains, they left out important context.

NIEBLA: In their push for a ban on public camping, elected leaders pointed to a two-hundred percent increase in what they called likely homeless-related fires. But what they failed to mention is the city actually doesn’t know how many fires are caused by unhoused people … and that an audit would reveal just weeks later that San Diego was failing to do its own job of removing brush to prevent fires. It turns out: These fires are not typically investigated. Instead, encampments are blamed if cooking equipment or evidence of a campfire is nearby, or if a 9-1-1 caller mentions an unhoused person. Here’s Mónica Muñoz from Fire-Rescue. MUÑOZ: “We don't have any control whatsoever over what elected officials say …  what we do is provide them with the information we can provide them with.” Amber McCoy lives in a tent near the San Diego riverbed. She says public officials and residents blame unhoused people for policy failures. McCOY: “They choose us because we’re unvoiced in the public eye.” Elected leaders defended using the data, though they didn’t address the city’s failure to remove brush. For KPBS, I’m inewsource reporter Crystal Niebla.

TAG: For more on this story, go to inewsource dot org.

inewsource is an independently funded, nonprofit partner of KPBS.


During a medical emergency every second counts, even before paramedics arrive.

Health reporter Matt Hoffman has more from a training on what the public should know.

A dining room at the Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa in Rancho Santa Fe has been turned into a classroom. Where employees are learning how quick action can help save a life. We need immediate responders to be able to render aid to persons for many cases American Medical Response paramedic Sal Ruiz is leading the ‘first on scene’ training.. Ruiz says the average 9-1-1 response time in this area is around 7 minutes. But certain emergencies like cardiac arrest require immediate interventions before paramedics arrive. Ruiz A person cannot be without oxygen to their brain for that seven minutes. It requires someone nearby to be able to do compressions on that person to meaningfully save their life AMR holds similar training sessions for the public every six weeks.. The next one is September 30th at the Encinitas Community Center. MH KPBS News.


Coming up.... hundreds of thousands of students are back in school, after the storm delayed the start of the new year. We’ll have that story and more, just after the break.


The fall semester is now underway for every student in the county.

San Diego Unified went back to school yesterday after a 24-hour delay because of Tropical Storm Hilary.

Education reporter M.G. Perez was there.

The cheerleading Cardinals squad led the welcome party at Hoover High …site of the official San Diego Unified kick-off for the new school year. Almost 100-thousand students are back in school to begin the fall semester…at over 170 campuses. There are more universal transitional kindergarten classes at many schools, this year…and the district has gone from 5-to-15 campuses designated as community schools…offering support services beyond the classroom. Richard gee-HAWN is the director at Hoover High School. “you can’t learn if you’re hungry. You can’t learn if you’re having trouble at home…you can’t learn if you’re dealing with mental health issues….you can’t learn if your stomach hurts….if we want our kids to perform at a high level, we need to make sure we’re meeting all their needs.” This fall, the district has also added several new league sports teams including girls flag football…at 17 schools.


Some community college students around the county are also now back in school.

And since the pandemic, California’s community colleges have been working to recover from enrollment declines.

KPBS Midday Edition host Jade Hindmon spoke with Luke Menchacka, Dean of Outreach for Community Affairs at the San Diego Community College District, and Gregory Smith, acting Chancellor of the San Diego Community College District about how community colleges in the county have been impacted, and how some of the changes are beneficial.

Here’s part of their conversation.

COMMUNITYCOLLEGES (Midday)   4:08    “ college district.”

How is the San Diego Community College district faring with enrollment as the new school year gets underway?

Other than enrollment, how have San Diego’s community colleges been changed by the coronavirus pandemic?

How do you find the balance between the flexibility that virtual learning options can provide with in person learning?

Can you talk a little about your students… What are some of their unique challenges and how do you work with them to ensure success in the classroom?

As classes get started, do you have tips for new students who may be attending their first college courses?

TAG: That was Luke Menchacka, Dean of Outreach for Community Affairs at the San Diego Community College District, and Gregory Smith, acting Chancellor of the San Diego Community College District, speaking with KPBS Midday Edition host, Jade Hindmon.

And to all the students, faculty and staff who are back in school – we hope you have a great year.


That’s it for the podcast today. As always you can find more San Diego news online at KPBS dot org. I’m Debbie Cruz. Thanks for listening and have a great Wednesday.

Before there was the Me Too Movement, there was the Bob Filner sexual harassment scandal. KPBS looks back at the allegations against the then San Diego mayor and fallout since he agreed to resign 10 years ago today. In other news, the Biden administration’s already contentious decision to continue with a Trump-era border wall replacement in the San Diego region has sparked another controversy. Plus, hundreds of thousands of students are back in school, after the storm delayed the start of the new year.