Filner’s chief of staff quits as calls for mayor’s resignation pile up
Mayor Bob Filner's chief of staff stepped down Friday, shortly after three prominent San Diego-area elected officials joined the growing list of those calling for the mayor's resignation amid allegations of sexual harassment.
Longtime Filner aide Vince Hall, who was appointed as chief of staff shortly after the mayor took office in early December, announced his resignation via Twitter.
“As a lifelong activist for women's rights and equality, I feel I must resign effective today,” Hall wrote.
Earlier in the day, City Council President Todd Gloria called for the mayor to step down, as did Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez and Assembly Majority Leader Toni Atkins, D-San Diego.
Gloria said although Filner's admittance of “unacceptable behavior” was the right thing to do, he did not believe that Filner could “effectively continue as mayor of San Diego after these admissions.”
“I don't currently know the full extent or impact of his behavior, but I do know this: The people of San Diego, and especially those women he has mistreated, need to be assured that we as a city will not tolerate intimidation and harassment,” Gloria said. “An apology is not enough. In recognition of the gravity of the situation he created, and for the good of the city he pledged to serve, Mayor Filner should step down.”
His request for Filner's resignation was not based on past disagreements on policy issues, but on the severity of the allegations and the legal and financial risk they pose to the city, Gloria said.
“Our city government cannot maintain the full faith and trust of the people of San Diego if Mayor Filner continues to serve in this office,” he said.
Gonzalez told reporters there's a time and a place when someone is no longer fit to be a boss, and given the allegations she had heard, Filner had reached that point.
“I hope that he will spare us all a lengthy process. I hope he'll spare the victims the need to go through a legal process and do the right thing and simply resign,” Gonzalez said.
Atkins joined Gonzalez at the State Building, saying it pained her to call for the mayor's resignation because she had supported his vision of progress for the city. But as a leader, she has a responsibility to her constituents and to the city employees to “take a stand on the behalf of individuals who may not be able to come forward,” Atkins said.
“It is with strong resolve that I call for Mayor Bob Filner to either come forward and declare his innocence or resign immediately,” Atkins said. “Sexual harassment is incompatible with public service.”
Three other former Filner supporters who repeatedly called for him to resign this week amid the sexual harassment allegations are standing by their demands, in spite of the public apology he issued late Thursday, one of them said.
Attorney Marco Gonzalez said via a Twitter posting that he, ex- Councilwoman Donna Frye and attorney Cory Briggs “stand by (their) original demand, video notwithstanding.” He said additional information would be provided next week.
The trio sent letters to the mayor earlier this week urging him to step down, and reiterated their call in a news conference Thursday morning, although they declined to release details of the claims.
Filner released a statement via DVD that stated in part, “I am embarrassed to admit that I have failed to fully respect the women who work for me and with me, and that at times I have intimidated them.” (Read Filner's full statement below)
The mayor said he had started working with professionals to make changes in his behavior and approach, and would participate in sexual harassment training.
Mayor Bob Filner released the following statement Thursday in response to calls for his resignation amid allegations of sexual harassment:
I begin today by apologizing to you. I have diminished the office to which you elected me.
The charges made at today's news conference are serious. When a friend like Donna Frye is compelled to call for my resignation, I'm clearly doing something wrong. I have reached into my heart and soul and realized I must and will change my behavior.
As someone who has spent a lifetime fighting for equality for all people, I am embarrassed to admit that I have failed to fully respect the women who work for me and with me, and that at times I have intimidated them.
It's a good thing that behavior that would have been tolerated in the past is being called out in this generation for what it is: inappropriate and wrong.
I am also humbled to admit that I need help. I have begun to work with professionals to make changes in my behavior and approach. In addition, my staff and I will participate in sexual harassment training provided by the city. Please know that I fully understand that only I am the one that can make these changes.
If my behavior doesn't change, I cannot succeed in leading our city.
In the next few days, I will be reaching out to those who now work in the Mayor's Office or have previously worked for me – both men and women – to personally apologize for my behavior.
I will also be announcing fundamental changes within the Mayor's Office designed to promote a new spirit of cooperation, respect and effectiveness.
You have every right to be disappointed in me. I only ask that you give me an opportunity to prove I am capable of change, so that the vision I have for our city's future can be realized.