Mayor to take 2-week leave of absence; Opponents gearing up for recall effort

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – Mayor Bob Filner Friday rebuffed a chorus of calls for
his resignation in the wake of multiple allegations of sexual harassment, but
said he will take two weeks away from the job to seek behavioral therapy.

His two-week break will begin Aug. 5 and end Aug. 19.

Speaking to a packed room of reporters, Filner, 70, again apologized for
what he called a failure to respect women and for his “intimidating conduct.”

“However, words alone are not enough,” he said. “I am responsible for
my conduct and I must take responsibility for my conduct by taking action so
that such conduct does not ever happen again.”

Filner said he would enter a “behavior counseling clinic to undergo two
weeks of intensive therapy.” He didn't specify whether the clinic was in San
Diego or elsewhere.

During the time he is away, he will receive daily briefings on city
business, he said. The City Council is not scheduled to meet next month.

Since the allegations were first aired two weeks ago, the former
congressman has faced a torrent of criticism and calls for his resignation.

Earlier Friday, Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman
Schultz, a Florida congresswoman, called Filner's alleged misconduct
“reprehensible and indefensible” and called on the mayor to step down “for
the good of the city of San Diego.”

Shortly before Filner spoke, land-use consultant Michael Pallamary
delivered a letter to the mayor's office demanding that he step down by Monday
at 5 p.m. or face a recall campaign. A “Recall Bob Filner” Facebook page
Pallamary started last month has garnered nearly 6,400 “likes.”

The website has reported that LGBT activist Stampp
Corbin, the owner and publisher of LGBT Weekly, took out an advertisement in U-
T San Diego to signal his intent to start a recall campaign.

Pallamary or Corbin will need to collect about 102,000 valid signatures
to qualify a recall election for a citywide ballot.

The embattled mayor began his remarks by condemning his own actions.

“Let me be absolutely clear,” Filner said. “The behavior I have
engaged in over many years is wrong. My failure to respect women and the
intimidating conduct I engaged in at times is inexcusable.

“It has undermined what I have spent my whole professional life doing
and working on, and that is fighting for equality and justice for all people,”
he said. “It is simply not acceptable for me to try to explain away my conduct
as the product of the standards of a different generation.”

He went on to apologize to “the people of San Diego” and “most of
all” to “the women I have offended.”

His news conference was interrupted when the audio system failed,
cutting off the multiple live television and Internet feeds of his remarks.
Filner stepped back into his office while the system was repaired, and returned
about 10 minutes later and went through his remarks in their entirety.

He finished by saying, “And my hope is that by becoming a better
person, I put myself in a position to someday be forgiven. However, before I
can even think of asking for forgiveness, I need to demonstrate that my
behavior has changed. And that will only happen over time and only if such
incidents never, ever happen again.”

Filner made his remarks a day after the San Diego Democratic Party
Central Committee voted 34-6 to condemn his actions and demand his resignation.

“We are not here to determine guilt or innocence,” party Chairwoman
Francine Busby said. “However, in the best interest of the city, the San Diego
County Democratic Party has voted to ask Mayor Filner to step down, seek the
personal help that he needs, and allow San Diego to move forward.”

Also Thursday, four prominent women stepped forward to publicly accuse
Filner of unwanted sexual advances and groping — bringing the total number of
women making public allegations to seven.

The four, who appeared on KPBS, were retired Navy Rear Adm. Ronne
Froman, businesswoman Patti Roscoe, San Diego State University dean Joyce
Gattas, and Sharon Bernie-Cloward, president of the Port of San Diego's Tenants

Froman said she was at Filner's congressional office a couple of years
ago for a meeting on a veterans program and when the meeting ended, “Bob
stepped between me and the doorway and he stopped me, got very close to me and
he ran his finger up my cheek like this and he whispered to me, `Do you have a
man in your life?”' She said she did and jumped backward.

“I was really rattled,” Froman said.

Bernie-Cloward said that in 2010, Filner pulled her aside and asked why
she didn't accept a lunch invitation five years earlier. Then, last year while
Filner was running for mayor, he encountered her again following an event in
Mission Valley.

“He came up and gave me a hug, and he touched me — actually groped me –
– on my backside, inappropriately,” Bernie-Cloward said. “As soon as he
came in, he left, and I was left there startled and fearful. In fact, I had
somebody walk me to my car that night.”

Roscoe, who said she knows Filner well, said he would try to kiss her
and placed her in the so-called “Filner headlock.” She said he “slobbered
down her chin.”

“I was so violated and I was so offended,” Roscoe said. “On other
occasions, he's gotten close to me and put his hands on inappropriate places on
my body. It's just such a terrible invasion.”

Gattas said she was subjected to inappropriate kissing, touching,
hugging and sexual comments.

The sheriff's department has created a hotline for women who believe
they are victims at (619) 481-0220.

Categories: KUSI