Filner resigns: blames “coup” and “lynch mob” that had no proof
Bob Filner will soon be (unhappy) San Diego history. He resigned as mayor effective August 30 after the City Council approved a settlement, ending a sad and turbulent chapter in the city’s history and from being surefire punchline for comedians everywhere. In all, 18 women came forward to accuse him (sometimes in graphic terms) of sexual harassment. He will forever be associated with the phrases “Filner headlock,” “Filner dance” and — right through his resignation comments — “Filner disaster.” In the end, he resigned but blamed a “lynch mob” mentality and insisted there was no proof he sexually harassed anyone. Via KPBS’s John Rosman, Mark Sauer, Claire Trageser:
“I am responsible for providing ammunition. I did that,” Filner said. “But there are well-organized interests who have run this city for 50 years who pointed the gun, and the media and their political agents pulled the trigger.”
To be sure, Filner was the first Democratic mayor in 20 years and was considered to have been a liberal Democrat who delivered to his constituents when he served in Congress. But he also did have a lot of enemies. Democrats had hoped he’d make a big splash in office and he did only not in the way they had in mind. Many on San Diego talk radio aren’t happy at the details of the settlement:
The agreement includes the city dismissing its cross-complaint against Filner and providing a joint legal defense from the City Attorney’s office for both the city of San Diego and Filner, City Attorney Jan Goldsmith said.
Filner can also hire his own lawyers, but there will be a $98,000 cap on the amount the city will spend defending Filner. In addition, if the city is found liable for Filner’s behavior, the city can sue Filner for reimbursement.
And Filner wasn’t exactly the epitome of apology for all that it is alleged he has done. His focus was on the allege:
Filner was both contrite and defiant at times during his statement, apologizing to the city, its residents, the women he says he “offended” and his ex-fiancée.
“The city should not have been put through this,” he said. “I let you down. My own personal failures were responsible.”
But Filner also said the city “just faced a lynch mob,” where rumors became facts.
“Not one allegation has ever been independently verified or proven in court,” he said. “I have never sexually harassed anyone.”
Instead, Filner said he was “trying to establish personal relationships” with women, “but the combination of awkwardness and hubris led to behavior that many found offensive.”
“We had a chance to do a progression vision in this city for the first time in 50 years,” he continued. “We need to carry that vision forward. This is not the time to let it die.”
Filner listed what he accomplished during his short time in office, including cleaning up bird poop in La Jolla cove, saving money through renegotiated property leases, a balanced budget and a five-year labor agreement with city employees
To be sure, that is part of his legacy, but the biggest part of his legacy will be that in nine short months he gained a reputation as “hands on” mayor in more ways than one. The San Diego UT:
Filner’s resignation completes a stunning fall for the longtime politician and former congressman. He took office in December as the first Democratic mayor in 20 years and promised to shake up City Hall for the betterment of the disenfranchised and downtrodden. Instead his brief tenure was rife with conflict and questionable decisions before imploding last month amid numerous accusations of sexual impropriety.
“This settlement represents an end to our civic nightmare and allows our city to begin to heal,” said Council President Todd Gloria, who will take over many of the operational duties of the mayor.
The council was unanimous in support of the agreement save two absent members. Democrat Myrtle Cole and Republican Scott Sherman were traveling outside the city, according to their offices.
One of Filner’s female accusers, political consultant Laura Fink, gave emotional testimony before the council vote saying she stood with the alleged victims.
“I hope that you will consider the nature and degree of the deplorable behavior that the mayor has committed,” Fink said during a public hearing before the council went behind closed doors.
The council must set a special election within 90 days.
A fitting song: