San Diego mayor agrees to resign

August 23, 2013

Mayor Bob Filner agreed Friday to resign Aug. 30, bowing to enormous pressure after sexual harassment allegations brought by at least 17 women eroded his support after just nine months on the job.

The City Council voted 7 to 0 on a deal that ends a political stalemate after more than a dozen women publicly identified themselves as targets of unwanted advances.

The 70-year-old Filner, a Democrat who served 20 years in Congress before becoming mayor of the nation’s eighth-largest city, apologized to accusers but denied sexually harassing them.

He previously insisted he still could be an effective mayor and underwent two weeks of behavioral therapy before returning to work this week.

But his support diminished as more women — one of them a great-grandmother and another a retired Navy admiral — came forward and told stories of Filner touching and forcibly kissing them, making lewd comments and placing them in headlocks. Some of Filner’s closest political allies and all nine members of the council called on him to quit.

On Friday, just before the council vote, the Democratic National Committee took the extraordinary step of passing a resolution demanding that Filner leave.

Dozens of people spoke for and against the mayor before the council convened behind closed doors to discuss confidential terms negotiated by Filner and City Attorney Jan Goldsmith.

“Without the mayor’s resignation, our city will continue to be paralyzed by this scandal, progress will be arrested and our focus will continue to be monopolized by this dark chapter in our history,” said Laura Fink, a political consultant who accused Filner of patting her buttocks in 2005 when she was deputy campaign manager to the then-congressman.

Rachel Laing, a spokeswoman for an effort to recall the mayor, said petition gatherers had collected 20,000 signatures in five days to qualify for the ballot but that she would accept a deal for the mayor to resign.

Still, many who came to the meeting supported the embattled mayor, hailing the liberal Democrat’s work on behalf of civil rights and struggling minority groups.

“When my children ask me, ‘Where were you when the public lynching of Mayor Filner took place?’ I will tell them I was not an accessory,” said Enrique Morones, president of the immigrant advocacy group Border Angels.

Filner’s biggest bargaining chip at the negotiating table was his refusal to resign.

A person with knowledge of the negotiations said the main sticking points during talks involved granting Filner indemnity and covering his legal fees in the sexual harassment lawsuit. The person was not authorized to comment publicly and spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The deal was negotiated among Filner, his lawyers, Goldsmith and two City Council members. It does not include attorney Gloria Allred, who represents Filner’s former communications director, Irene McCormack Jackson, in a lawsuit filed against Filner and the city.

— Associated Press

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