Business groups call on Filner to resign

SAN DIEGO — The San Diego Port Tenants Association Friday called on Mayor Bob Filner to resign in the wake of sexual harassment allegations and their resulting impact on the local business climate.

The president of the organization, which represents businesses that lease space on Port of San Diego property, is one of nine women who have stepped forward to publicly accuse Filner of unwanted advances.

Sharon Bernie-Cloward told KPBS last week that Filner groped her backside following an event in Mission Valley in 2010, while he was a congressman.

Bernie-Cloward did not comment in the association’s statement, leaving that to Chairman Bill Hall.

“Considering his acts of degrading and inappropriate behavior towards women, Bob Filner cannot execute the duties of his office and should immediately resign as mayor of San Diego,” Hall said.

According to the group, businesses are being directly impacted by the uncertain business climate, the inability for local government to focus on economic issues, and the negative images of San Diego that are being portrayed to potential visitors and business interests across the nation.

It also contended Filner’s conduct “has directly affected employees and members of SDPTA businesses in a degrading and profoundly damaging manner. His behavior continues to compromise the ability of member businesses to manage significant issues critical to business operations, government relations and outreach.”

Filner, who based his campaign for mayor in large part on strengthening economic activity at the port, is set to enter a two-week behavioral therapy program Monday.

Business groups remained on the sidelines while the allegations against the mayor swirled — until this week. Filner’s predecessor, Jerry Sanders, now the head of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, said the mayor has opened San Diego to national “ridicule” and has to go.

Thursday, a group of business leaders called the Business Leadership Alliance demanded Filner’s resignation.

A member of that group, Mark Cafferty of the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp., wrote that publicity about the allegations is hurting the area’s economy.

The San Diego Port Tenants Association represents hotels, restaurants, marinas, shipbuilding and repair yards, as well as maritime, commercial and sport fishing operations.