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Mayor explains scuffle with City Attorney

SAN DIEGO – In an attempt to explain why he attended City Attorney Jan Goldsmith’s press conference earlier this week, Mayor Bob Filner revealed his concern about hotel owners getting a “sweetheart” deal.

Filner criticized the city attorney during a Fox 5 interview Friday saying Goldsmith did not fully disclose that he received tens of thousands of dollars of campaign contributions from the multinational hotel owners.

“If [Goldsmith] continues to act irresponsibly and particularly act unethically, the city will have a problem,” the mayor said. “He should be defending me, not his campaign contributors.”

The public feud between the two city officials erupted Wednesday at a news conference called by Goldsmith about the controversial extension of the city’s Tourism Marketing District.

Goldsmith discussed legal aspects of four changes Filner wanted in the 40-year TMD deal, which has been approved by the City Council. Filner has not signed off on financial transactions.

Filner, who interrupted the city attorney, accused him of failing to provide him with legal advice and running off to the media.

“No professional attorney would do that.  You’re advising a client in a privileged and confidential way.  You don’t go to the press to advise your client,” Filner said. “I’m just asking for him to do his job.  Call me up.  That’s what the city attorney is supposed to do.”

Filner said he was elected on a platform of change. His role was to speak up for the people of San Diego and not just the special interest groups.

“Yes, we want to advertise San Diego. Yes, we want tourist economy.  Yes, we want to promote San Diego,” he said.  “But to give a multinational hotel, like a Hyatt or a Marriot, $30 million of public money to advertise their hotels is a sweetheart deal.  I’m not going to be a party to it.”

Fox 5 reached out to Goldsmith for comment, but it was not immediately provided.

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