Bob Filner, the man who remains Mayor of San Diego despite 14 allegations of sexual harassment, just got back from two weeks at an undisclosed location for therapy. And now, he won't be able to get into his own office, at least not without some help. According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, Filner's own chief of staff changed the locks for the protection of the office itself. Here's what he said:
"The fact is that I had the locks changed to protect the Mayor while he is away...My concern is/was that if anything was removed while the Mayor was away, it could raise all kinds of questions about preservation or spoliation of potential evidence. Because I could not possibly determine everyone who had keys, I believed it was necessary to ensure the integrity of his physical office in his absence. The Mayor will be given the keys upon his return."
This is at least the second move from the mayor's office for his own protection that's making headlines in the scandal. The first is the office's ban on Filner meeting with female staffers one-on-one. Filner is currently taking "personal time" this week after starting and finishing his therapy a week earlier than expected, and will continue outpatient treatment in the coming weeks. While he does that, he'll also be facing mounting scrutiny from a number of fronts.
First, there's the recall campaign, a long, complicated process that could eventually give the people of San Diego a chance to replace their mayor with someone else. And while that process is far from a sure thing (even though just 21 percent of residents and zero percent of the City Council want Filner to stay on as mayor), organizers will begin collecting signatures this month to force a recall vote. The mayor has until today, Monday, to provide a written response to the recall explaining why he should get to keep his job.
Update Tuesday, 3:15 p.m.: Bob Filner filed his official response to the recall effort. It doesn't mention the accusations of sexual harassment against him, and instead asks San Diegans to focus on jobs. "We need to continue to move forward!" Filner says, punctuation his. He also tells the city that he's working on a bid for the first "bi-national Summer Olympics in world history for 2024!" (punctuation also his). The Olympics bid, considered a long-shot, has been in the works for awhile. San Diego would co-host the games with Tijuana, Mexico under the plan.
There's a reason, aside from denial, that Filner's response (which gets printed on the recall petitions circulated by organizers) would read as another campaign pitch. The former congressman, elected just months ago, is the first progressive Democratic mayor in two decades to hold the mayor's office, in a city that is usually run by conservatives. So the pitch is probably an attempt to remind his supporters, former and the ever-dwindling current, that the city could return to business as usual should a recall election move forward.
Here's the whole thing, obtained by the Associated Press:
Now is not the time to go backwards — back to the time when middle-class jobs and neighborhood infrastructure were sacrificed to Downtown special interests. We need to continue to move forward!
We have moved toward the vision of producing thousands of middle-class jobs in our port; creating a solar-based City to enhance our environment and create jobs; building an efficient international border to bring billions of dollars into our economy; keeping our military and hitech sectors strong and vibrant.
We have produced a creative vision for our Balboa Park Centennial which will make it more accessible and beautiful for our citizens and bring millions of tourists to San Diego. Balboa Park's Plaza De Panama is at last free of automobiles and will transform the pedestrian experience for the next century.
We have brought world class urban thinkers to transform our neighborhoods into livable, walkable and bikeable adventures. Neighborhood leaders feel a new sense of empowerment and excitement!
We have put millions of new dollars to bring the City's arts and culture to new levels; our river park systems are experiencing new growth; our homeless population and military veterans have new hope for jobs and self-respect; we are spending more dollars on our road infrastructure than ever before.
We negotiated a five-year labor agreement which brings new stability, hope, and respect for our City employees. Our working people see new hope for livable wages. The expansion of the Convention Center will bring thousands of jobs and millions of tourists to San Diego.
Our position as one of the biggest bi-national metropolitan areas in the world promises new trade, new cultural interchanges and new possibilities. We are developing a proposal for the first bi-national Summer Olympics in world history for 2024!
As your Mayor, I am committed to moving San Diego forward!
As that's going on, local news in San Diego found another side-scandal facing the mayor right now: the use of his mayoral credit card at a popular hotel for unknown reasons (the unconfirmed implication is that he's been seen with other women at the hotel). That's kind of a follow-up on a bigger, mostly resolved, series of questions about Filner's expenses during a trip to Paris (he agreed to pay the city back for the money in question).
Then, there's the lawsuit from former communications director Irene McCormack Jackson, one of fourteen women — two of whom are former staffers — accusing the mayor of everything from unwanted comments to kissing to insinuations about providing medical care to a veteran in exchange for sexual favors. Filner's already hit back against the suit (through his lawyer) by arguing that the city failed to provide the mayor with required sexual harassment training.