San Diego mayor's tumultuous time in office ending quietly

Reuters News
Posted: Aug 30, 2013 4:50 PM
San Diego mayor's tumultuous time in office ending quietly

By Marty Graham

SAN DIEGO (Reuters) - Bob Filner's abbreviated term as San Diego mayor appeared to be ending quietly on Friday as the veteran politician who resigned in the face of a sexual harassment lawsuit remained out of sight on what was scheduled to be his last day in office.

Filner, a former Democratic congressman elected to lead California's second-largest city last year, announced his resignation last week as part of a settlement with the city over a lawsuit filed by his former press secretary.

The press secretary, Irene McCormack Jackson, is among 18 women who have accused the 70-year-old politician of making unwanted sexual advances toward them, but is so far the only one to sue him.

Parks department employee Stacy McKenzie filed a $500,000 battery and sexual assault claim against the city in what her attorney has said was a precursor to a lawsuit.

As part of the deal in which Filner agreed to resign, the city will join in his legal defense, according to an outline from the city attorney's office, which will be responsible for representing the mayor.

Filner had said that he would work until 5 p.m. on Friday, but it was unclear if he was at his office. The city has scheduled a special election for November 19 to replace him, at a cost of between $5.9 million and $6.2 million.

A woman answering the phone in Filner's office declined to say if he was at work, and his spokeswoman could not be immediately reached for comment. People who work in the lobby of the building said he had not been seen all week.

Meanwhile, Gloria Allred, the Los Angeles attorney who represents Jackson and several other women making accusations against Filner, held a news conference to celebrate his departure, complete with "parting gifts" for the man she helped unseat.

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"At 5 p.m. today, San Diego will finally be free of Bob Filner and all the shame that he has brought to the city of San Diego," Allred said.

In announcing his resignation, an emotional Filner apologized to San Diego residents but said no sexual harassment allegations had been proven against him.

"In a lynch mob mentality, rumors become allegations, allegations become facts, facts become evidence of sexual harassment which have led to demands for my resignation and recall," he said.

Nearly every elected official in San Diego from both parties had urged him to step down, including all nine members of City Council.

(Writing and additional reporting by Dan Whitcomb; editing by Cynthia Johnston and Matthew Lewis)