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Mayor Filner returns to City Hall, briefly

August 21, 2013|By Tony Perry
  • More than a dozen women have accused Mayor Bob Filner of sexual harassment.
More than a dozen women have accused Mayor Bob Filner of sexual harassment. (Gregory Bull / Associated…)

SAN DIEGO - Mayor Bob Filner, after an absence of several weeks, returned to City Hall briefly Wednesday before leaving for a mediation session over a sexual harassment lawsuit that could lead to his resignation.

"Nice to see you guys," he told reporters who had camped out to see if Filner would return to work. He refused to answer questions.

Filner was at City Hall for less than two hours, apparently talking to his staff and telling them to not let the controversy over his conduct distract them from their work.

Also Wednesday, Walt Ekard, Filner's chief operating officer, released a video to the city's workforce reassuring them that their work is appreciated. San Diego, he told the employees, "is a city that delivers."

Filner's quick stop at City Hall came as another woman alleged that he made unwanted sexual advances.

Dianne York, president and chief executive of the Spa of La Jolla, said at a news conference hosted by the recall-Filner movement that the incident occurred after a meeting three months ago in his office at City Hall. She had met with Filner about a foreclosure.

While pictures were being taken, York said, Filner placed his hand on her buttocks.

"I felt extremely violated," she said.

When Filner announced July 26 that he was going to undergo two weeks of intensive behavioral therapy, he promised to return Aug. 19 ready to "be the best mayor I can."

But the 70-year-old Democrat did not show up Monday or Tuesday. Filner was at all-day mediation sessions on both days, in a building several blocks from City Hall.

Present at the Tuesday session, overseen by a retired federal judge, were Filner, his attorney from the Irvine firm Payne & Fears, City Atty. Jan Goldsmith and City Council members Kevin Faulconer and Todd Gloria.

Los Angeles attorney Gloria Allred, who represents former Filner director of communications Irene McCormack Jackson, was present at the Monday session.

At the end of Tuesday's mediation, Goldsmith would say only that mediation can be a lengthy process. Retired jurist J. Lawrence Irving has told all participants not to talk specifics.

At issue in the mediation could be an offer by the city to trade Filner's resignation for financial assistance in paying his legal bills and any judgment from the Jackson lawsuit.

The City Council has refused to pay Filner's legal bills and also threatened to sue him to recover any damages assessed against the city in the lawsuit.

All nine members of the council have called for his resignation, along with the local Democratic party and numerous state officeholders. On Friday, the Democratic National Committee, meeting in Arizona, is expected to endorse a resolution calling for his resignation.

A recall movement against Filner began gathering signatures this week. Recall activists must collect more than 101,000 signatures of registered voters to qualify a recall for the ballot.

More than a dozen women have accused Filner of making sexual advances and inappropriate comments.


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