SAN DIEGO - City Attorney Jan Goldsmith issued a statement Friday condemning Mayor Bob Filner for having his top lawyer removed by police from a closed-session meeting with the City Council this week.
According to a partial transcript of Tuesday's meeting, Filner accused Executive Assistant City Attorney Andrew Jones of leaking information from closed-session meetings to the media, and after some back and forth asked him to leave. Jones refused, which prompted Filner to ask a police detective to remove Jones from the room for being "disruptive," according to the document.
Goldsmith said in the statement he had reviewed the transcript and statements from many of those present and had a good understanding of what had transpired between Filner and Jones, whom he called "a man of the highest honesty, integrity and character."
"This was a cruel act with no basis in law," Goldsmith said. "It was an extreme abuse of power that should never be tolerated in a free and democratic society. Filner has gone far over the line of decent behavior in a civilized society."
Filner's office told 10News he was "unavailable" for comment.
The mayor and city attorney have been at odds since shortly after Filner took office.
"This has been a continuous attempt by the mayor to thwart my office's ability to do the job I was elected to do," Goldsmith said.
Filner previously has accused Goldsmith of airing information in the media without talking to him.
According to the transcript from Tuesday's meeting, which was intended for the mayor, the City Council and City Attorney's Office to coordinate on several lawsuits that involved the city, Filner asked Jones "Are you going to leak anything from this meeting, since you have in the past?"
"I'm not even going to answer that," Jones responded.
Jones told 10News, "It absolutely caught me by surprise. I was standing there, minding my own business and I was attacked for no apparent reason by the mayor."
City Councilman Scott Sherman watched in disbelief.
"The mayor just started attacking, wouldn't let him finish a sentence; he was incredibly loud, just getting up in his chair and pointing his finger and yelling; it was childlike, actually," Sherman said.
"He wanted me out of the room and he took the unprecedented, unlawful step of having an armed police officer remove me from council chambers," said Jones.
Sherman exited then, too.
"I wasn't going to be part of that type of behavior; it was offensive to me," said Sherman.
Jones said it goes back to the earlier meeting where Filner told him he made him nervous because he was standing at a podium.
"He told me to go sit in the back of the room, and I'm a product of the south, born in 1952, raised in the segregationist South and that statement was derogatory and demeaning to me," said Jones.
Jones talked about that situation with reporters afterward. He denies there's anything privileged in his comments.
He directed this at the mayor: "If you want to continue to be a bully, to be an abuser, you're not going to do it to me. Apologizing to me won't be enough. He needs to apologize to the public for the way he treats people."
Goldsmith said his office would have more to say next week on the issue and the steps it will be taking.
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