San Diego’s Democratic Mayor Bob Filner experienced a self-revelatory moment on Friday. Speaking to reporters following allegations that he sexually harassed at least 5 women, Filner sought to salvage his career by saying an act of contrition and throwing himself on the mercy of the press:
Filner said he will check into a “behavior counseling clinic” on Aug. 5 for two weeks of therapy and return full time to his job on Aug. 19.
“I am responsible for my conduct,” Filner said at San Diego City Hall. “This intensive counseling will just be the first step … I must become a better person. My hope is by becoming a better person, I put myself in the position to someday be forgiven.”
“I apologize to my staff. I apologize to the citizens and staff members who have supported me over the years. I apologize to the people of San Diego. And, most of all, I apologize to the women I have offended,” the mayor said.
“The behavior I have engaged in over many years is wrong. My failure to respect women and the intimidating conduct I engaged in at times is inexcusable. It has undermined what I spent my whole professional life doing: fighting for equality and justice for all people.”
So let’s get this straight; he’s fought his “whole professional life” for equality but when it comes to his private life, he acts like a Neanderthal with women. We might call him a hypocrite but many Democrats would disagree because, after all, his heart is in the right place.
But Filner’s mea culpa didn’t go over very well. In fact, it appeared to backfire:
Mayor Bob Filner’s announcement that he plans to undergo behavioral therapy to learn how to stop treating women disrespectfully has increased demands for his resignation or recall among San Diego City Council members.
Just minutes after Filner’s surprise announcement Friday, Councilwoman Sherri Lightner said Filner should resign because he “can no longer effectively lead our city.” A Democrat, Lightner had been among three council members who held out while six others called for Filner to resign.
Also on Friday afternoon, Councilman Mark Kersey, a Republican, asked Council President Todd Gloria to put an item on a meeting agenda to allow the council to iron out legal difficulties with the city’s recall procedures.
The city’s recall laws “are contradictory, not in conformance with state law, and likely unconstitutional,” said Kersey, who has called for Filner to resign.
Filner has so far resisted the pressure for him to step down amid allegations of sexual harssment of staff members, constituents and others. There is no impeachment process in the City Charter.
A citizens group has announced plans for a recall movement against Filner, a difficult process requiring large-scale signature-gathering to qualify the issue for a public vote. The last recall of a San Diego official was in 1991.
City law needs to be changed, Kersey said, so that “voters may have confidence in the legal viability of future [recall] elections.”
Reaction among city council members to Filner’s plan to undergo two weeks of therapy at a residential facility was uniformly negative.
Filner “continues to put his needs in front of the needs of his victims and the citizens of San Diego,” said Councilwoman Lorie Zapf.
The toughest comment came from Councilman Scott Sherman: “San Diegans should accept nothing less than Bob Filner’s resignation and/or arrest.”
Filner should try sackcloth and ashes next. What has he got to lose?