San Diego Mayor Bob Filner responds to recall campaign

Mayor facing sex harassment lawsuit

SAN DIEGO - Embattled San Diego Mayor Bob Filner is touting his accomplishments in office over the past eight months in response to a recall effort seeking to strip him of his job.

Filner's comments are part of a formal response he filed with the City Clerk's Office late Monday night. The one-page response makes no mention of the sexual harassment allegations against the mayor or the accusations that he has shaken down developers for donations.

"Now is not the time to go backwards -- back to the time when middle- class jobs and neighborhood infrastructure were sacrificed to downtown special interest," Filner wrote. "We need to continue to move forward!"

Filner goes on to write about his efforts to improve Balboa Park, make neighborhoods more accessible to bicyclists and pedestrians, and San Diego's recently reached five-year labor agreement with city employees.

Organizers of the recall effort are now required to publish his response before they can begin collecting signatures for the Filner recall petition. Organizers must collect nearly 102,000 valid signatures and submit them to the City Clerk's Office by Sept. 26.

Rachel Laing, a spokeswoman with the recall effort, said organizers plan to publish Filner's response immediately per the city's recall rules.

Michael Pallamary, one of the leaders of the effort, also issued a statement in response to the rebuttal.

"Mayor Bob Filner obviously believes his policy initiatives excuse his being A sexual predator. His reply is unacceptable. San Diegans want a mayor that doesn't grope and demean women, who doesn't abuse his office to satisfy a perverted quest for a sense of power, and who has the ability to lead our great city -- an ability Filner can never, ever reclaim. Our fellow citizens will unite behind our effort to move beyond the great shame our mayor has brought upon our city through his considerable misdeeds. We will recall him from office."

City Council President Todd Gloria said the mayor's response shows that "he just doesn't get it."

"He does not address the serious claims against him and instead provides a laundry list of proposals that cannot be accomplished because he refuses to resign," Gloria said.

The councilman, who represents downtown San Diego, Hillcrest and North Park, said he shares a progressive vision that puts neighborhoods first, and agrees this is not the time to move backward.

"The truth is, the only way we can move forward is for Bob Filner to resign," Gloria said.

Filner is accused of sexually harassing by 14 women to various degrees. Filner's alleged actions against women range from unwanted advances to groping and kissing. He has apologized for mistreating women and sought treatment at a behavioral treatment center, but has denied that his actions constitute sexual harassment.

The list of alleged victims includes two municipal employees, one of whom is being represented by famed Los Angeles attorney Gloria Allred and has sued Filner and the city. It also includes two women who said Filner made passes at them last year at a meeting of veterans who were raped in the military. And one of the complainants is a retired rear admiral.

All nine members of the City Council, both of California's senators and other local civic and business leaders have called for the mayor to step down immediately.

Full text below:

Now is not the time to go backwards — back to the time when middle-class jobs and neighborhood infrastructure were sacrificed to Downtown special interests. We need to continue to move forward!

We have moved toward the vision of producing thousands of middle-class jobs in our port; creating a solar-based City to enhance our environment and create jobs; building an efficient international border to bring billions of dollars into our economy; keeping our military and hitech sectors strong and vibrant.

We have produced a creative vision for our Balboa Park Centennial which will make it more accessible and beautiful for our citizens and bring millions of tourists to San Diego. Balboa Park’s Plaza De Panama is at last free of automobiles and will transform the pedestrian experience for the next century.

We have brought world class urban thinkers to transform our neighborhoods into livable, walkable and bikeable adventures. Neighborhood leaders feel a new sense of empowerment and excitement!

We have put millions of new dollars to bring the City’s arts and culture to new levels; our river park systems are experiencing new growth; our homeless population and military veterans have new hope for jobs and self-respect; we are spending more dollars on our road infrastructure than ever before.

We negotiated a five-year labor agreement which brings new stability, hope, and respect for our City employees. Our working people see new hope for livable wages. The expansion of the Convention Center will bring thousands of jobs and millions of tourists to San Diego.

Our position as one of the biggest bi-national metropolitan areas in the world promises new trade, new cultural interchanges and new possibilities. We are developing a proposal for the first bi-national Summer Olympics in world history for 2024!

As your Mayor, I am committed to moving San Diego forward!

Bob Filner

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