Amid eight sexual harassment allegations and two votes against him from the city council, San Diego Mayor Bob Filner is refusing to resign.
Seven of nine city council members have called for his resignation along with the local Democratic Party and several democratic officeholders, eight different women are publicly accusing him of sexual assault, and he will be taking a leave of absence for "intensive therapy" starting August 5. But he still will not resign.
In the midst of his sexual harassment lawsuit, Filner asked the city to create a legal defense fund to pay for his defense. In a double rebuke, the city council made two unanimous decisions against him. The council decided to sue the mayor in order to ensure that he alone is responsible for any costs associated with the lawsuit, and they then denied funds for his defense, a request made by Filner's private attorney.
Two recall petitions will start circulating August 18, and 100,000 signatures will be needed to put the issue on ballot.
Filner's former communications director, Irene McCormak Jackson, sued the mayor and the city July 22, with allegations that Filner asked her "to work without panties, demanded kisses, told her he wanted to see her naked and dragged her in a headlock while whispering in her ear."
Seven other women have come forward with descriptive accounts of advances by Filner.
In response to suggestions from party leaders that he resign, Filner has emphasized that none of the accounts have been proved. But he admitted he needs help and has apologized to his staff and the women he allegedly harassed.
"I will be entering a behavior counseling clinic to undergo two weeks of intensive therapy," he said.
"I think therapy is what you do when you have a personal problem," said Laura Fink, an alleged victim. "When you're the mayor of San Diego and you have a problem of that degree, you resign."
We've seen too many politicians in public sex scandals lately. And while many have made, or at least attempted to make, a comeback for better or for worse, almost all initially resigned. Anthony Weiner resigned from Congress in 2011, Mark Sanford resigned as chairman of the Republican Governors Association in 2009 (but not from his governorship), and Spitzer resigned as attorney general of New York in 2008. The list goes on.
Filner is less than eight months into a four-year term and while I applaud his efforts towards self-improvement, a major city needs a mayor who can devote his full time and attention to the city without being distracted by scandalous allegations and behavioral therapy. Furthermore, two weeks of intensive therapy is unlikely to solve his problem completely.
"There's nothing going on in the city, in City Hall," Said Stampp Corbin, a newspaper publisher and activist. "Everyone is focused on this scandal. That is not good for this city."