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Mayor could be removed without recall, city attorney says

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SAN DIEGO – Given the City of San Diego’s legal trouble brought on by sexual harassment allegations against Mayor Bob Filner, City Attorney Jan Goldsmith said he feels it’s his responsibility to find a way to oust him.

In light of an unlikely resignation of Filner and difficult recall effort ahead, Goldsmith said he was approached by members of City Council to find alternate ways within the City Charter to remove the mayor from office.

goldsmithThe City Charter in San Diego has a provision to remove municipal officers, including the mayor, for unauthorized draws on the city treasury, the City Attorney’s Office announced Thursday.

Goldsmith said he’s confident he has enough information to prove Filner has misused funds.

“An unauthorized trip to Paris, that cost the city over $30,000, that’s one example,” said Goldsmith.

In a memo to members of the City Council, and disseminated to reporters, Deputy City Attorney Carrie Gleeson wrote that the city would have to go to court to enforce the charter section, however.

The memo was released on the same day it was learned that embattled Mayor Bob Filner’s city-issued credit card was canceled by Chief of Staff Lee Burdick a little over two weeks ago.

The mayor ran up a bill of around $11,000 and failed to submit receipts as required, so the city wasn’t able to pay US Bank until right before the account went into collections, U-T San Diego reported.

Burdick, whose promotion was announced July 24, canceled the credit card July 31, according to the newspaper.

As reported earlier this week, charges were for travel, restaurants and a blender, with around $975 deemed to be personal expenses.

Authorities were looking into a series of transactions at The Westgate Hotel, where members of the mayor’s security staff told investigators he took different women, according to published reports.

Councilman Kevin Faulconer announced Monday that he would have the Audit Committee he chairs hold a Sept. 9 hearing on whether the city’s credit card policies were properly followed.

“Based on this new evidence, I am broadening the scope of my Audit Committee hearing to investigate how Mayor Filner was able to circumvent credit card rules and how to prevent negative effects on the city’s credit rating as a result of one person’s misuse of taxpayer dollars,” Faulconer said.

Felipe Monroig, president of the San Diego County Taxpayers Association, said, “Time and again we see taxpayer dollars spent questionably and without adequate explanation from the Mayor’s office. Where’s the accountability?”

Filner’s predecessor, Jerry Sanders, had a member of his staff use a credit card to book flights and rooms when he traveled, but he did not used the card to purchase items, according to Monroig, who was on the staff of Councilman Carl DeMaio for part of that time.

“City credit cards cannot be used for personal expenses, period,” Monroig said.

The City Council would have to authorize the filing of a civil lawsuit designed to force the mayor out of office, according to the City Attorney’s memo.

Sources within City Hall told Fox5, City Council plans to discuss the possibility of enforcing charter section during a closed door meeting on August 28.

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