You in effect made me or enabled me to do it. You didn’t give me training so I didn’t know I shouldn’t do it.
That basically seems to be the apparent defense of San Diego Mayor Bob Filner in making his case to the city of San Diego. So far eight prominent and highly respected women — including some political allies — have come forward to accuse him (in detail) of sexual harrassment.
[See the UPDATE BELOW: This is now contradicted…]
The accounts suggest Filner has been a hands-on mayor in more ways than one — and that if he leaves office he could start a new company: Leer Jet. The San Diego Union (my former employer) reports:
Mayor Bob Filner’s legal strategy appears to be to shift blame on the city for his alleged inappropriate behavior toward women because he didn’t receive sexual harassment training as required under the municipal code.
In a Monday letter to the City Attorney’s Office, Filner’s attorney Harvey Berger said the city has a legal obligation to provide such training to all management-level employees within six months of being hired. Berger said Filner was scheduled to receive the training, but it was canceled by the coordinator and never rescheduled.
Berger said the city is therefore liable for Filner’s alleged actions and he should have his legal fees paid for by taxpayers. Filner and the city have been sued by Irene McCormack Jackson, the mayor’s former communications director, for sexual harassment. She has accused the mayor of unwanted sexual advances, including kisses and derogatory comments.
The City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to reject that request.
All of this is a pity, because Filner has been a political figure who was always content oriented. As a Congressman, Filner wasn’t just about rhetoric and sound bites. He delivered in Washington. And his supporters had expected big things out of him as mayor.
The accusations continue to mount — and at a quickening pace. If this keeps up, within a month or two this could become Filner’s theme song:
UPDATE: Filner’s problems now increase a bit more: The Voice of San Diego reports that Filner had cancelled sexual harassment training:
San Diego Mayor Bob Filner’s office canceled multiple new employee and management training sessions in the first months of his term, a former top city official said late Wednesday. The sessions included direction to complete legally required sexual harassment training, two City Hall sources with knowledge of the situation said.
These statements contradict the version of events offered by Filner’s attorney Harvey Berger in a letter to City Attorney Jan Goldsmith. In the letter, Berger contends the city is liable for Filner’s legal fees in his sexual harassment lawsuit because of the failed training. Berger claims that city trainers “unilaterally cancelled” the sessions and never rescheduled.
“Had the city provided mandatory sexual harassment training to Mayor Filner, [former spokeswoman Irene] McCormack Jackson may never have brought her lawsuit,” Berger wrote in the July 29 letter.
Former city Chief Operating Officer Jay Goldstone said Filner’s office canceled several training sessions, which would have covered payroll, benefits and other employee and management roles and responsibilities, because the mayor’s office said it didn’t have time for them.
Goldstone disputed Berger’s assertion that city staff canceled the training sessions.
“Absolutely not. I am 100 percent certain that they did not cancel it,” Goldstone said.
Go to the link to read the rest.
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.