Mayor Filner won’t resign, despite urging of La Jolla Councilmember Sherri Lightner and others to do so
City News Service and staff reports
Despite speculation that San Diego Mayor Bob Filner would resign during a mid-day press conference announced by his office Friday morning, July 26, the mayor instead said he will seek two weeks of therapy to deal with his treatment of women (which has resulted in numerous charges of sexual harassment during the past month, and calls for his resignation from Democratic leaders across the country).
Following the mayor’s announcement, City Council President Todd Gloria said that Filner is prolonging the city of San Diego’s pain by choosing behavioral counseling, instead of resigning amid the allegations.
“The mayor has finally acknowledged his very serious disorder, which prevents his ability to govern and seriously affects his ability to interact with people,” Councilmember Gloria said. “As would be the case with any leader in government or business, the standard he has to uphold is greater than to simply get treatment.”
During Friday’s press conference, Filner said his behavior was inexcusable and that he would undergo “intensive” behavioral therapy, but that he would not step down from office.
“Let me be absolutely clear,” he told reporters assembled at his office Friday. “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 professional life working on: fighting for equality and justice for all people.
“I must become a better person,” Filner added. “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.”
Gloria Allred, the high-profile civil rights attorney who is representing Filner’s former communications director, Irene McCormack (one of the first victims of Filner’s admitted harassment to come forward), issued the following statement late Friday when asked to comment by La Jolla Light: “Mayor Filner has harmed many women including my client Irene McCormack Jackson. He should resign immediately. I view his decision to seek therapy as a ploy to stay in power and to try to gain sympathy. If he feels that he needs therapy, he should resign first and then seek it. It is ridiculous to think that he needs therapy in order to understand that women deserve respect and should not be treated like pieces of meat.”
Filner, the city’s first Democratic mayor in two decades, been has been under the microscope for months. Talk of a recall has been brewing behind the scenes since before his fiancée broke off their engagement and, days later, the first sexual harassment allegations and calls for his resignation were announced by former allies in the Democratic party.
Filner said he would be briefed daily on city matters during his two-week absence.
“When I return on Aug. 19, my focus will be making sure I am doing right by this city in terms of being the best mayor I can be, and the best person I must be,” he said.
However, following Filner’s announcement, District 2 City Councilmember Kevin Faulconer said, “Two weeks of therapy will not end decades of bad behavior.
“Bob Filner should leave to receive the help he obviously needs, but he shouldn’t take the office of the mayor and San Diego city government with him,” Faulconer said. “He needs to resign and seek long-term treatment as a private citizen.”
Council President Todd Gloria added: “While Mr. Filner is choosing to continue to undermine the ability to run the city efficiently and effectively, I want to reassure the people of San Diego that my council colleagues, city employees and I remain focused on providing the services citizens expect from your government.”
Councilwoman Lorie Zapf said the mayor continued to put his needs in front of the victims’ and San Diego residents.
“He is the mayor of the eighth-largest city in the country and he must be held to a higher standard,” Zapf said. “By not stepping down, it is an insult to the victims, and an insult to women everywhere.”
Councilman Mark Kersey said, “Mayor Filner needs to wrestle with his demons as a private citizen, not on the public’s time or the taxpayers’ dime. Our employees should not have to work under this cloud of controversy, and the victims should not have to wait any longer for the justice they deserve.”
Of the other Democrats, Marti Emerald has been out of town all month at a training session at Harvard University and Myrtle Cole could not immediately be reached.Sherri Lightner’s office released this statement to the Light late Friday afternoon, July 26:
“I have been deeply troubled by the serious allegations regarding the Mayor’s conduct. Sexual harassment is demeaning and harmful behavior which cannot be tolerated, and I respect the courage of the women who have come forward.
I am committed to making sure the city provides a safe and positive work environment for all its employees, and I want every city employee to know that they have my support.
I have heard from many of my constituents in District One who strongly believe the Mayor can no longer effectively lead our city. As their elected representative, I have personally met with the Mayor and requested he resign. Meanwhile, I will continue to remain focused on addressing the important priorities of our neighborhoods.”
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