Documents: Former San Diego Mayor Bob Filner gave staff $86K in raises before resigning

Salary increases took effect before resignation

SAN DIEGO - Bob Filner gave raises to several staff members totaling $86,000 just before he resigned as mayor of San Diego, according to documents obtained by Team 10.

Filner authorized the raises before leaving office amid a lawsuit and several allegations he sexually harassed city staff and other women in the community.

The largest raise went to former Filner press secretary Lena Lewis. Her salary was $82,500 in July, and it rose to $115,000 by August.

In July, Filner protocol officer Molly Chase earned $50,000. On August 1, her pay was bumped up to $65,000.

Filner binational affairs manager Mario Lopez also had a $15,000 increase. His annual salary went from $70,000 in July, to $85,000 in August.

Chase, Lopez and Lewis continue to work for the city of San Diego under interim mayor Todd Gloria. Gloria adjusted the trio's salaries once he took office.

Chase, now the director of appointments and protocol, is earning $60,000. Lopez remains the director of binational affairs and earns his original salary of $70,000. Lewis now serves as a council liaison, with a current salary of $95,000.

Filner also gave three administrative staff raises -- Adriana Martinez, Kimberly Ricci, and Antoinette Duran. The three saw their pay go from $30,000 each in July to $35,000 in August.

Gloria did not adjust their raises, and according to Gloria's spokesperson, all three staffers continue working as community outreach representatives.

The seventh Filner staffer to receive a raise was former council liaison Francisco Estrada. He salary went from $101,500 in July to $110,000 in August.

Estrada no longer works for the city and does not draw a salary.

"I'm not aware of any illegality from doing this," San Diego County Tax Payers Association President Felipe Monroig said. "Is it ethical? I think it's wrong."

San Diego City Councilman Scott Sherman told Team 10 he isn't convinced.

"Knowing everything we know about Bob Filner up to this point, for these things to be given out while he's walking out the door is a little suspicious," said Sherman.

Sherman said he'll keep an open mind when it comes to the raises.

"If it was a promotion to another level and position, then it's warranted and understandable," said Sherman.

But Sherman said the timing is dubious and thinks more questions need to be asked.  

"It looks like on the face, it's him paying off those who enabled him while he was in office," said Sherman.

Sherman said he plans to ask a lot of questions and may bring the issue to the city's Audit Committee.

"On the whole, what you see is a reduction overall in the salaries that people are receiving and I think that that's appropriate. Some of those raises that were made in the waning days of the previous administration I did not think were justifiable and that's why I reduced them," said Gloria.

On Tuesday, he said staff salaries are now in line with staff responsibilities. Gloria said he did not know what prompted the raises provided by his predecessor.

"I respect the right of each administration to determine the value of its staff members," Gloria said to Team 10. "I think that the ones who are actually retaining raises are the people who are making $35,000 a year. These are people who are not getting wealthy doing public service. In other cases, we have an individual whose actually been asked to take on more duties. As such, she will be paid a little bit more."

He added, "Obviously, the raises at the last minute call in all kinds of questions but again, that was a decision he made, it's another decision that I've reversed and it's probably more of many more to come as we try to clean up the mess that was left behind … You know this happened as I was coming into office and my predecessor decided to increase the salaries and hire more people and try to use up the budget that was there for me and so that's really unfortunate. You know that shouldn't happen."

Mayoral candidate and Councilman David Alvarez, who represents District 8, is aware of the situation and supports the interim mayor for his decisions regarding the pay hikes.

"It’s not the way that leaders should -- that’s the wrong message to send. Todd is doing his best job as mayor. He’s doing a great job and he did what was best for the city," said Alvarez.

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