San Diego mayor finally agrees to go
SAN DIEGO — Mayor Bob Filner agreed Friday to resign on Aug. 30, bowing to enormous pressure from lurid sexual harassment allegations brought by at least 17 women eroded his support after just nine months on the job.
Filner was regretful and defiant during a City Council meeting as he explained “the toughest decision of my life.” He apologized to his accusers but insisted he was innocent of sexual harassment and said he was the victim of a “lynch mob.”
“The city should not have to go through this, and my own personal failures were responsible, and I apologize to the city,” Filner said as the council voted 7-0 on a deal that ended a stalemate after more than a dozen women identified themselves as targets of unwanted advances, including touching, forcible kisses and lurid comments.
“To all the women that I've offended, I had no intention to be offensive, to violate any physical or emotional space,” he said. “I was trying to establish personal relationships, but the combination of awkwardness and hubris led to behavior that I think many found offensive.”
Legal terms of the deal were being revealed as the council meeting continued into the late afternoon.
The 70-year-old Filner, a Democrat, served 20 years in Congress before becoming mayor of the nation's eighth-largest city. He had insisted he still could be an effective mayor and underwent two weeks of behavioral therapy before returning to work this week.
His support diminished as more women — one of them a great-grandmother and another a retired Navy admiral — came forward.
Some of Filner's closest political allies and all nine members of the council called on him to quit.
On Friday, 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 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 his deputy campaign manager.
Rachel Laing, a spokeswoman for an effort to recall the mayor, said petition gatherers have collected 20,000 signatures in five days to qualify for the ballot but that she would accept a deal for the mayor to resign.