SAN DIEGO — Disgraced San Diego Mayor Bob Filner’s resignation became official Friday, ending a tumultuous term that lasted less than nine months.
He made no known public appearances on his last day, and was not spotted at City Hall.
The 70-year-old former congressman, who initially insisted he wouldn’t resign, agreed last Friday to step down after nearly 20 women publicly accused him of varying degrees of sexual harassment dating back several years. He is also under investigation for allegedly misusing a city-issued credit card and shaking down developers.
Dianne Owalla, the city’s purchasing card program administrator, told City News Service that Filner has paid off a $975 credit card tab that was used for personal expenses. She would not say when he made the payment.
In mediation that resulted in his agreement to step down, Filner asked for one final week in office, but was seen infrequently at City Hall in that period.
City Council President Todd Gloria, who succeeded Filner on an interim basis, said he toured the mayor’s office and found a lot of work that needs to be done.
“Mostly, it’s around giving direction to staff,” Gloria told reporters. “The staff, as you might expect with the turmoil we’ve lived through the last number of months, has not necessarily had the full attention of the mayor. They will have that full attention now, and we’ll be decisive in making sure the people’s business gets done.”
Gloria also produced a video in which he thanked city employees for “sticking it out” through the scandal. He said he looked forward to working with the team that was in place.
“This will not be a time of controversy or reorganizations,” Gloria says in the video. “After nine months of instability and going backwards, this is the time we need to know what is working, what needs to be fixed, and what you all need to succeed.”
Late Thursday, he announced that the first woman to go public with allegations of misconduct against Filner will return to her job as communications director in the mayor’s office.
Irene McCormack Jackson, who has sued Filner and the city, alleges he told her she should work without her panties on, that he wanted to see her naked and that he could not wait to consummate their relationship. Filner also allegedly demanded kisses from McCormack Jackson and put his arm around the former reporter and dragged her along in a headlock while making sexual remarks.
It was mediation over her lawsuit, which is still pending, that led to the mayor to resign.
Gloria also said he will have council members Sherri Lightner run council meetings and David Alvarez lead gatherings of the Budget Committee, which Gloria chairs. Councilwoman Marti Emerald will replace Filner as one of San Diego’s representatives on the San Diego Association of Governments Board of Directors, he said.
Filner’s top staff also left city employment.
Chief of Staff Lee Burdick, Assistant Chief Operating Officer Nelson Hernandez, Council Liaison Francisco Estrada and Director of Community Outreach Linda Perine left their posts. Burdick told City News Service that she had no comment, other than “I’m done.”
Hernandez and Estrada loaded some possessions into an SUV and departed around noon.
By the time McCormack Jackson went public with her allegations July 22, the mayor was already in deep trouble.
Filner was frequently questioned by reporters about his treatment of his staff and about a trip he took to Paris that was funded by an Iranian resistance group that wasn’t properly registered as a nonprofit in the United States. He subsequently promised to return the money, but the city paid around $20,000 for his security detail to accompany him.
In June, McCormack Jackson transferred to a new city post, and Deputy Chief of Staff Allen Jones resigned. According to city documents, the staff changes occurred during a high-level meeting in which the sexual harassment allegations were discussed.
On July 8, Filner’s fiancee, Bronwyn Ingram, announced that she had ended their relationship.
Two days later, three of his onetime supporters — including former Councilwoman Donna Frye — demanded his resignation, claiming he was regularly acting in an inappropriate manner toward women.
In addition to McCormack Jackson’s lawsuit, the city is dealing with two claims filed by two other alleged Filner victims. Attorney Daniel Gilleon is representing both women, who will be free to file lawsuits if and when the city denies their claims.
One of the women, identified only as Marilyn, is seeking $250,000. Gilleon alleges the mayor grabbed her face and kissed her forehead at an event in May at Johnson Elementary School in Emerald Hills. Filner also allegedly put his hand around her waist and tried to walk her away.
The other woman represented by Gilleon is Stacy McKenzie, the district manager for city-run Mission Bay Park. She is seeking $500,000 from the city. McKenzie, 50, alleges that Filner asked her for a date and placed her in a headlock at a city function at Mission Bay on April 21. She claims he also grabbed her wrists so she was unable to move.
A special election for Filner’s replacement is scheduled Nov. 19. If no one wins more than 50 percent of the vote, a runoff election will be held. City Clerk Elizabeth Maland said the cost for the initial election is estimated to be around $6 million.