San Diego Mayor Bob Filner's leadership style questioned after latest confrontation

Filner, Jan Goldsmith exchange words at briefing

SAN DIEGO - San Diego Mayor Bob Filner's aggressive style is being questioned as the dust settles from the verbal sparring that took place Wednesday between him and City Attorney Jan Goldsmith.

10News Poll: San Diegans react to Filner's behavior

In just the last couple of months since taking office, the number of clashes involving Filner is adding up.

In mid-January, he unexpectedly confronted City Council President Todd Gloria over a disagreement on government appointments.

At the time, Gloria said, "Mr. Mayor, I'm sorry. I'm running the council meeting at this time."

Filner responded, "Then give it to somebody else to run."

Two weeks later, Filner crashed a Carmel Valley Planning Board meeting during which they were discussing a proposed commercial and residential development called One Paseo.

"Does this erode the quality of life in this community? I think it does," Filner said at the meeting, which drew cheers from the crowd.

During a news conference Wednesday, an uninvited Filner dressed down Goldsmith for telling the media first that one of the mayor's ideas for tourism marketing dollars is illegal.

"I am your client; that's privileged communication. You not only have been unprofessional, but unethical in this press conference," said Filner.

It's no secret Filner and Goldsmith have been at odds, but political analyst Carl Luna said this goes beyond that.

"Bob Filner's problem now is people are going to start saying, there he goes again," said Luna.

Will Filner's leadership style work for San Diego?

"Confrontation can get the issue on the table, but then you've got to work to try to solve it for the long term," said Luna.

This is not the first city leader to be called aggressive. Former city attorney Mike Aguirre clashed with former mayor Jerry Sanders over the Sunroad development project. It was a bitter feud that alienated many.

Aguirre went on to lose a re-election bid to Goldsmith.

"He (Aguirre) went too far being confrontational to achieve his mission," said Luna.

Even staunch Filner supporter and labor leader Lorena Gonzalez weighed in during a conversation on Twitter.

"And, say what you like about the mayor... But he was right about it being unethical for city [attorney] to release legal opinion to media not city," Gonzalez tweeted.

Communications strategist Anthony Manolatos responded to Gonzalez via Twitter, writing, "Seems to be a valid point but it should have been delivered in a phone call or private meeting. This is way too much drama."

Gonzalez responded, "Way too much. It's exhausting to watch & doesn't move our city forward. This is why I believe in the negotiating table."

Manolatos wrote back, "Yep. It's great for reporters (these stories write themselves) and some city hall watchers, but that's about it."

Luna said Filner may need a new approach.

"What's that old expression? You get more with sugar and honey than you get with vinegar. I think he needs to go buy a five-pound sack of sugar and start spreading it around," Luna said.

10News reached out to Filner, but he was not available for comment.

Filner and Goldsmith are scheduled to speak Thursday night at the inauguration of the Linda Vista Town Council.

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