Settlement approved by City Council, Filner to leave office

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – After weeks of being dogged by allegations of sexual
harassment, Bob Filner resigned Friday as mayor of San Diego, effective Aug. 30.

“I apologize to all of you,” Filner said in the San Diego City Council
chamber after the council emerged from a 90-minute closed-door meeting,
during which the panel unanimously approved a settlement agreement with the

As part of that deal, the city will provide a joint legal defense with
the mayor of claims against him by city employees or contractors, but the city
reserves the right to seek reimbursement for any damages it suffers. Filner
will also be permitted to hire his own lawyer, according to the city attorney.

Council members insisted that the deal was good for the city and
taxpayers. The deal was approved 7-0, with council members Myrtle Cole and
Scott Sherman out of town.

Although he apologized, Filner blamed a “lynch mob mentality” for
leading to his demise, and insisted that he “never sexually harassed anyone.”

“I think I let you down,” Filner said, addressing his supporters in
the room. “We had a chance to do a progressive vision in this city for the
fist time in 50 years. … We need you to carry that vision forward. This is
not the time to let it die.”

Filner, a 70-year-old former congressman, offered a personal apology to
his former fiancee, Bronwyn Ingram.

“I love you very much,” he said. “You came to love San Diego as much
as I did. And you did memorable things in the short time you were first lady
and I personally apologize for the hurt I have caused you, Bronwyn.

“To all the women that I offended, I had no intention to be offensive,
to violate any physical or emotional space. I was trying to establish personal
relationships, but the combination of awkwardness and hubris led to behavior
that many found offensive.”

Filner, mired in the sexual harassment claims and allegations of
misusing a city-issued credit card and shakedowns of developers, had signed a
resignation letter prior to the council's meeting.

The deal between the city and the mayor stemmed from a sexual harassment
lawsuit filed by Irene McCormack Jackson, the mayor's ex-communications
director. Her lawyer, Los Angeles-based Gloria Allred, said Thursday that her
client's portion of the litigation has not been settled.

The agreement in mediation talks led by retired federal Judge J.
Lawrence Irving was reached Wednesday evening.

A total of 18 women have publicly accused Filner of improprieties.

One of them, Laura Fink, told the council members in the public comment
portion of the meeting to keep the victims in mind during their deliberations.

“I hope that you will consider the nature and degree of the deplorable
behavior the mayor that has exhibited and the havoc he has wreaked on the lives
of his victims and this beautiful city,” said Fink, who said Filner groped her
buttocks at a congressional campaign fundraiser.

Enrique Morones, an immigrant-rights activist who has led a small
contingent of the Filner supporters, said the mayor spent decades serving the
oppressed, and that his downfall is “a public execution.”

“When my children ask me, `Where were you when the public lynching of
Mayor Filner took place?' I will tell them I was not an accessory,” Morones
said. “I stood on the side of a man — Bob Filner — who has stood on the side
of us for 40 years.”

They were two of around 40 people who spoke to the City Council before
members went into closed session to consider the deal.

With Filner's resignation, Council President Todd Gloria will become
interim mayor, and a special election will be scheduled within 90 days. If a
candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote, that person would become
mayor. Otherwise, a runoff election would be held between the top two vote-

The 70-year-old former Democratic congressman became the third San Diego
mayor to resign in recent times, following Roger Hedgecock and Dick Murphy.

During his speech to the council, Filner — who recently took a two-week
leave of absence to undergo therapy — highlighted what he perceived to be
his accomplishments since taking office last year. But he remained defiant,
insisting that he was being railroaded out of office, casting blame on his
detractors and the media.

“I started my political career facing lynch mobs, but I think we have
just faced one here in San Diego,” Filner told the council. “And you're going
to have to deal with that. In a lynch mob mentality, rumors become allegations,
allegations become facts, facts become evidence of sexual harassment, which
have led to … the resignation and recall.

“Not one allegation, members of the council, has ever been
independently verified or proven in court. I have never sexually harassed
anyone. But there's a hysteria that has been created, that many of you helped
to feed. It's the hysteria of a lynch mob.”

All members of the council had called on Filner to resign.

Categories: KUSI