• Outgoing mayor insists he ‘never sexually harassed anyone,’ and that ‘awkwardness and hubris’ led to offensive behavior
City News Service/La Jolla Light Staff Reports
After weeks of being dogged by allegations of sexual harassment, Bob Filner tendered his resignation as San Diego mayor Friday, Aug. 23, effective Aug. 30.
“I apologize to all of you,” Filner said in San Diego City Council chambers after the council emerged from a 90-minute closed-door meeting, during which the panel unanimously approved a settlement agreement with the mayor. 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 City Attorney Jan Goldsmith
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, touted a list of accomplishments during his short tenure as mayor, which started with his successful push to remove vehicles from the Plaza de Panama in Balboa Park
“We’ve protected seals and we protected La Jolla from the poop from the seals and others,” Filner stated, as his second item on a long list of accomplishments — the latter of which City Council President Pro Tem Sherri Lightner, who represents La Jolla, also took credit for during a post-meeting press conference (though Lightner phrased it as “cleaning up the odor at La Jolla Cove”).
Filner also used his time to offer 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, 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 Aug. 22 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.