Filner: I'm not going to resign; facts will vindicate me

SAN DIEGO - In an interview Monday afternoon, San Diego Mayor Bob Filner confirmed that he will not resign and said he believes that after "a fair and impartial investigation" he will "be vindicated at the end."

"It concerns me greatly that anybody would make any charge like that, against anybody ... I want to work to make sure that anything I've done in an offensive manner I can make right in some way. We can't just have dueling press conferences and anonymous sources. Everybody, including me, is entitled to due process, to a fair and impartial investigation. The facts will be determined in that process. I will obviously cooperate fully. I think I'll be vindicated at the end ...," Filner said.

Filner spoke to local TV station KUSI, but refused to talk to 10News following a series of Team 10 investigations that exposed some questionable dealings with a developer and ultimately brought to light the sexual harassment allegations. Though he closed the door on 10News cameras, he told KUSI his actions with women have been misunderstood.

When asked about the claims of sexual harassment levied against him, Filner told KUSI, "There is a difference between someone who is tough to work for and sexual harassment. And I am. I demand excellence, I want to have a great city … and sexual harassment, there is a difference there."

He added, "I'm a very demonstrative person. I express myself demonstratively. I'm a hugger of both men and women, and if it turns out that those are taken in an offensive manner, I need to have a greater self awareness about what I am doing, and we will correct that, and I am taking those steps. My whole political career has been one of an outgoing person. And I have to deal with that, certainly in a more self aware way."

Political analyst John Dadian told 10News, "He's in power and doesn't want to relinquish it ... I think there's a chance he could resign; the pressure's just getting too intense ... At this point, since today we got very specific as far as some of the actual acts and actions, I just don't see any way, and I want to say that strongly; I don't see any way he overcomes this."

On Monday afternoon, Councilman Scott Sherman personally hand delivered a letter asking Filner to resign immediately. Councilmen Kevin Faulconer and Mark Kersey also issued statements asking Filner to step down.

Jane Reldan, a Filner supporter, said, "I'm not supporting behavior like that; no woman could, but I think he has a right to defend himself and those allegations in court. I'm sorry. I understand it's a touchy subject. It's absolutely embarrassing and did it sound good? No. But did it sound like it should cause Mayor Filner to resign, based on these allegations? No."

Filner supporter Steven Greenwald added, "If he talks to a woman and he feels he can ask her, 'Would you like to go out with me?' He has the right to ask and the woman has the right to say yes or no. And if she's close enough, maybe he'll take a kiss; perhaps not."

Dadian feels Filner will have a difficult future at City Hall.

"He's certainly done. Realistically, politically, as far as ... one of the things you have to do to be mayor, you have to be effective and I don't see how he can be effective," Dadian said.

In a statement released earlier in the day, Filner said he would not resign and "a full presentation of the facts will vindicate" him.

"As your elected mayor, I fully expect to be accountable to the citizens of San Diego for all of my actions," Filner said in the statement. "As a citizen of this country, I also expect -- and am entitled to -- due process, and the opportunity to respond in a fair and impartial venue to specific allegations … I do not believe I am guilty of sexual harassment, and I believe a full presentation of the facts will vindicate me."

He said those who had called for his resignation justified their demands by claiming that the city would be compromised amid the allegations. In response, Filner announced he appointed former county Chief Operating Officer Walt Ekard as his interim Chief Operating Officer -- a move he said was intended to strengthen city management.

Ekard in turn appointed the city's Interim Chief Operating Officer Scott Chadwick as his assistant chief operating officer and named Interim Director Judy VonKalinowski as human resources director, according to Filner.

"Today's announcements make clear the operations of city government will not be negatively impacted," Filner said.

READ FILNER'S FULL STATEMENT FROM MONDAY MORNING BELOW:

Filner announces appointments intended to strengthen City management

Mayor Bob Filner today announced appointments intended to significantly strengthen City management.  Filner prefaced the announcement with a statement addressing recent calls for his resignation: 

“I’m not going to resign, and here’s why,” said Filner.  “As your elected mayor, I fully expect to be accountable to the citizens of San Diego for all of my actions.  But as a citizen of this country, I also expect – and am entitled to – due process, and the opportunity to respond in a fair and impartial venue to specific allegations.  I do not believe I am guilty of sexual harassment, and I believe a full presentation of the facts will vindicate me,” said Filner.

“Some who have called for my resignation have justified it with the claim that the operations of the City will somehow be compromised by the current controversy,” said Filner. 

“Today I am announcing the appointment of Walt Ekard as Interim Chief Operating Officer of the City of San Diego.  Mr. Ekard is perhaps the most respected public administrator in the region and is nationally recognized for his successful and innovative management of the County of San Diego for over 14 years,” said Filner.

“Mr. Ekard has appointed Scott Chadwick, who has done an outstanding job as our Interim Chief Operating Officer, to become his Assistant Chief Operating Officer, and has also appointed Interim Director Judy VonKalinowski as the City’s permanent Human Resources Director,” said Filner.

“Today’s announcements make clear the operations of City government will not be negatively impacted,” said Filner.

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