San Diego Mayor Bob Filner - faced with a sexual harassment
lawsuit filed by his former communications director - is not only
embarrassing his city, but is also presenting it with confusing
legal choices, political and legal analysts say.
He has agreed to undergo two weeks of counseling as seven other
women have come forward to accuse him of inappropriate behavior. The
therapy is to take place Aug. 5-19, during which the mayor has said
he will receive twice-a-day briefings about city operations.
But seven of the nine city council members say he should resign.
California Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D), House minority leader Nancy
Pelosi, and Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman
Schultz have also indicated as much.
In addition, two potential recall efforts are afoot. One recall
group filed an affidavit Monday indicating its plans, and another
published an ad over the weekend indicating similar intentions.
It's all adding up to a confusing situation, and questions are
multiplying by the moment. Among the questions:
- Who is in control of the city while the mayor is in rehab?
- Can two recalls go on at the same time?
- Are the city's recall measures at odds with those of
- Who will pay Filner's legal fees?
"The City Council and other civic leaders throughout the city are
responding to the politics of the situation and the outrage that
stretches far beyond the region's borders," says David McCuan, a
political scientist at Sonoma State University in Rohnert Park,
Calif., in an e-mail. "Citizens, comedians, state and national
leaders - everyone has the same message for the Mayor: get out and
get help. Yet, the Mayor is hunkering down and preserving all his
legal options. This sets up a monumental battle through a recall
effort and if there is more than one effort, the Mayor could
Filner declared Monday that he thinks the city should pay his
legal fees, and the city council rejected that in a late Tuesday
vote. The council also voted unanimously to indemnify itself against
all damages and legal fees it might incur as a result of the
"If Bob Filner engaged in unlawful conduct and the city is held
liable, he will have to reimburse us every penny the city pays and
its attorney fees," City Attorney Jan Goldsmith said.
In a statement, Councilmember Kevin Faulconer said: "Bob Filner
can't pay back San Diegans for the damage he's done to our city's
Another figure who says Filner should resign is city council
president Todd Gloria, who would become acting mayor in the event of
"I applaud his action to seek help, but it only underscores what
a lot of us are saying, which is you cannot seek help and run the
city at the same time," Mr. Gloria said in an interview with KPBS
TV. "That's why myself and so many others have said, Mayor, you need
Technically, during therapy, the mayor will keep his full
authority - signing legislation, if needed, and overseeing parks,
roads, libraries, and city services, according to Mr. Goldsmith. …