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Filner's chaotic tenure ends

Disgraced San Diego mayor is nowhere to be seen on his last day at City Hall.

August 31, 2013|Tony Perry
  • At a news conference in San Diego celebrating Mayor Bob Filner's last day in office, Los Angeles attorney Gloria Allred holds up one of the three resignation "gifts" she said she had for Filner -- including a wallet-size laminated card providing the legal definition of sexual harassment.
At a news conference in San Diego celebrating Mayor Bob Filner's last… (Sandy Huffaker / Associated…)

SAN DIEGO — After nine months of chaotic governance, and six weeks of headline-grabbing accusations of sexual harassment, the tenure of Bob Filner as mayor came to a quiet end at 5 p.m. Friday when his forced resignation became effective.

At 5:01, City Council President Todd Gloria, a fellow Democrat, became acting mayor until Filner's successor is chosen in a special election.

Filner, 70, who became mayor amid bold promises of a "progressive agenda" that included better neighborhood services and a greater voice for lower-income residents, was nowhere to be seen on his last day as mayor.

His picture and nameplate were taken down without fanfare by midday. His chief of staff left by a back entrance to avoid reporters.

In what may be Filner's last act as mayor, he authorized a stop-work order Thursday to block expansion of a Jack in the Box restaurant in North Park, a project opposed by neighbors.

As his first official act as acting mayor, Gloria overturned Filner's order.

Even though he is no longer mayor, Filner still faces legal issues.

The state attorney general and San Diego County Sheriff's Department are conducting a criminal investigation into Filner's conduct toward women, with charges of assault possible. The Sheriff's Department has a hotline to field accusations against Filner.

The City Council is also set to investigate Filner's use of a city credit card, as well as a trip to Paris in which two San Diego police officers went as a security detail.

Gloria will spend his first weekend as acting mayor in what could be called true San Diego style: attending the U.S. Sand Sculpting Challenge on the Broadway Pier, attending a Padres game during which labor unions will be honored, and then touring beach areas with the lifeguard chief.

Gloria, 35, a history and political science graduate of the University of San Diego, is a former member of the San Diego Housing Commission and former chairman of the San Diego LGBT Community Center.

In the deal for Filner's resignation, the City Council agreed a week ago to pay for his defense against a sexual harassment lawsuit brought by Irene McCormack Jackson, Filner's former director of communications and one of a succession of women who have accused the mayor of misconduct.

Under the deal, the city will also pay Filner's share of any compensatory damages assessed by a court or in a settlement.

Gloria and other council members were in a mood to be low-key Friday in their comments about Filner's departure, but Los Angeles attorney Gloria Allred was not. At a morning news conference, she said she has three resignation "gifts" for Filner.

The first gift, she said, is a wallet-size laminated card providing the legal definition of sexual harassment. Filner should consult the card whenever he approaches a woman, Allred said.

The second gift is a mirror, so Filner can look at the person most responsible for his disgraceful exit as mayor of San Diego.

And the third, Allred said, is a card with the salutation, "I look forward to seeing you soon in deposition."

The lawsuit Allred filed on behalf of Jackson is still under mediation, she said.

Jackson was the first of 19 women to go public with allegations of sexual harassment against Filner.

With Filner gone, Jackson will resume her job as director of communications for the acting mayor. And with the mayor's job now officially vacant, Sept. 6 is the first day for candidates to register with the city clerk.

If no candidate receives 50% in the Nov. 19 election, a runoff between the two top vote-getters will be held, probably in January.

Former Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher, who served with the Marines in Iraq, has already declared his candidacy. He placed third in last year's mayoral primary.

While in the Assembly, Fletcher was a Republican. He re-registered as an independent while running for mayor. Now he's a Democrat. He was endorsed Thursday by the Municipal Employees Assn. and the city firefighters union.

Council President Gloria and Councilman Kevin Faulconer, a Republican, are both considering running. San Diego County Supervisor Ron Roberts, a Republican, and former Assemblywoman Lori Saldana, a Democrat, are also possible candidates.

Former Councilman Carl DeMaio, who lost to Filner in November's runoff, will announce Tuesday whether he will put aside plans to run for Congress and instead run for mayor.

DeMaio is a Republican and a leader in the pension reform movement.

On Thursday, DeMaio proposed an ethics reform package, including a change in the City Charter to make it easier to recall a mayor.

"Whether it is a wildfire or a wild man [Filner]," he told KUSI-TV on Friday, "you have to be part of the solution to a crisis."

--

tony.perry@latimes.com

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