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Filner, not back at work, attends all-day mediation session

The San Diego mayor met Monday with attorney Gloria Allred and his former communications director, who has filed a sexual harassment suit. Talks are 'ongoing,' Allred says.

August 19, 2013|By Tony Perry
  • The San Diego mayor's office was open Monday, but Bob Filner didn't show.
The San Diego mayor's office was open Monday, but Bob Filner didn't… (Denis Poroy, Associated…)

SAN DIEGO — Instead of showing up at City Hall as promised, Mayor Bob Filner was spotted Monday entering a downtown office building, apparently to engage in mediation aimed at settling a sexual harassment lawsuit brought by a former staff member.

After an all-day session, attorney Gloria Allred emerged with her client, Filner's former director of communications Irene McCormack Jackson, and said only that the mediation was "ongoing" and being supervised by retired federal Judge J. Lawrence Irving.

Also seen entering the building in the morning were City Council President Todd Gloria, a Democrat, and Council President Pro-Tem Kevin Faulconer, the council's senior Republican. The two are set to meet with City Atty. Jan Goldsmith on Tuesday.

Goldsmith last week said that he expected Filner to either resign or be ousted and that he was working on a potential settlement to the lawsuit that would provide Filner with "an exit."

Whether the mediation involves discussion of Filner's possible resignation as a way to resolve the lawsuit is unclear. All nine members of the council have called on the mayor to resign.

A recall movement began Sunday to gather enough signatures to force a recall vote. Former Councilman Carl DeMaio, who lost to Filner in the November election, announced Monday that he would assist the signature-gathering campaign and urged members of the City Council to do the same.

Supporters of Filner held a rally and news conference Monday outside City Hall. Kathleen Harmon, a longtime supporter, told a small crowd that, "We're going to stand behind him. We ask him not to resign."

Rally organizer Enrique Morones, an activist for immigrant rights, ended the rally with the call, "Bob, get back to mayoring. We love you."

The 70-year-old Democrat has refused demands from council members and numerous members of the Democratic Party in Sacramento and Washington to resign.

Sixteen women have accused Filner of sexual harassment, including three city employees, two military veterans, a retired Navy admiral, a nurse, two singers, two business executives and two college officials. The harassment, they said, included unwanted touching and inappropriate sexual comments.

When Filner announced that he would undergo two weeks of intensive behavioral therapy, he said he would return to City Hall on Aug. 19 ready to be "the best mayor I can."

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