San Diego Mayor Bob Filner explains reason for ejecting lawyer from meeting

Filner ordered police to remove Andrew Jones

SAN DIEGO - San Diego Mayor Bob Filner Friday offered explanations for various issues that came to light last week including the resignation of two staffers and an ongoing feud with City Attorney Jan Goldsmith that culminated with a top lawyer being removed from a closed-session City Council meeting.

During the June 18 closed session, Filner accused Executive Assistant City Attorney Andrew Jones of leaking information from prior closed-session meetings to the media, and after some back and forth asked him to leave.

Jones refused and Filner had him escorted out by police afterward for being "disruptive," a partial transcript showed.

Filner said Goldsmith's deputy had tried to "intimidate the council by interrupting conversations, by interjecting advice, (and) by standing in a very confrontational way over the council."

However, City Councilman Scott Sherman told 10News the mayor "just started attacking … wouldn't let him finish a sentence … [was] incredibly loud, just getting up in his chair and pointing his finger and yelling …"

Sherman referred to Filner's behavior as "childlike."

Filner also took issue with Goldsmith's office releasing the partial transcript.

Filner and Goldsmith have been at odds since shortly after the mayor took office.

Goldsmith issued a statement after the incident calling Filner's actions "a cruel act with no basis in law."

Filner said the clashes with Goldsmith were not personality-based, but were an "institutional problem that every big city that has a strong mayor form of government and elected city attorney goes through."

Also last week, Filner's Deputy Chief of Staff Allen Jones and spokeswoman Irene McCormack resigned.

The website voiceofsandiego.org quoted an anonymous source who said Jones was frustrated with Filner's treatment of his staff.

"He didn't like some of the priorities that I was engaged in and he voluntarily left, but what's the big deal?" Filner said.

Filner asked staffers if anyone else wanted out and he said McCormack said, "Me, too."

"I'm tough to work for, because I want excellence, I want to change things and I want to do it fast," Filner said.

The mayor also addressed a memo to his former chief of staff by an official at Sunroad Enterprises dated May 23, but recently made public.

It stated the developer had sent two checks totaling $100,000 payable to the city regarding an apartment project in Kearny Mesa, and in consideration for the payment, the mayor would direct city staffers to record the building restricted easements such that the construction inspections on the project would continue without interruption.

Filner vetoed the City Council's unanimous vote in April to allow setbacks between new apartments buildings and two-acre Centrum Park to be 9 feet instead of the state-mandated 15 feet. The City Council overrode the veto.

Filner said he returned the money after he was made aware of the memo.

"I thought they were offering a voluntary donation," Filner said.

Filner said he had been unable to respond to the various issues because he was in France last week on business. Although neither his or his fiancee's trip were funded with city funds, the city did send a security detail along, he said.

The former congressman also called attention to other happenings in the past couple weeks, including the start of the removal of bird droppings that have accumulated on rocks at La Jolla Cove, cars being removed from the center of Balboa Park and the announcement of plans for the park's centennial next year.

Filner said he will engage in self-examination to see if there is something he can do to improve his relationships with co-workers.