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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.

SAN DIEGO – A day after a verbal sparring match during a news conference, Mayor Bob Filner and City Attorney Jan Goldsmith appeared together in Linda Vista Thursday.

Screen%20Shot%202013-02-21%20at%209.45.51%20PMThey were guest speakers at the Town Council inauguration and appeared civil, even shaking hands, but a closer look at their body language seemed to tell a different story. When Filner was introduced to speak, Goldsmith joined in the applause. However, Filner did not do the same when Goldsmith was introduced.

During the speeches there was no mention of Wednesday’s incident. Goldsmith even acknowledged Filner once while at the podium.

“I happen to agree with the mayor on the need for law enforcement,” said Goldsmith. “Believe me we work with them.”

The event comes a day after Goldsmith called a news conference regarding Filner’s stance on a Tourism Marketing District contract, approved by the city council. Filner said publicly Tuesday that he opposed the contract and would not sign it.

During the news conference, Goldsmith addressed the legalities of the issue. Filner showed up and accused Goldsmith of overstepping the boundaries of his job.

“Do not exceed your authority,” Filner said to Goldsmith in front of reporters. “Do not exceed your ethical responsibility. Do not exceed your professional ethics and go to the press on matters that you need to advise me on.”

Goldsmith later replied that he felt obligated to make a public statement on Filner’s stance, because Filner went to the media without consulting the city attorney’s office.

“If I read them in the newspaper and they’re wrong I have to comment on them,” said Goldsmith.

Filner then interrupted, “I have no obligation to inform you of any policy decisions I make. You have the obligation as my attorney to give me private and privileged communication. I do not have to advise you.”

SAN DIEGO — Mayor Bob Filner and City Attorney Jan Goldsmith had a testy exchange Wednesday at a news conference called by Goldsmith about the controversial extension of the city’s Tourism Marketing District.

Mayor Bob Filner and City Attorney Jan GoldsmithGoldsmith called the news conference to discuss legal aspects of four changes Filner wants in the 40-year TMD deal, which has been approved by the City Council. Filner has not signed off on financial transactions called for in the agreement.

Filner, who showed up partway through the event, accused the city attorney of failing to provide him with legal advice.

“It would have been nice, Mr. Goldsmith, to have a memo, it would have been nice to have advice,” Filner said. “I am your client. That’s privileged communication. You not only have been unprofessional but unethical in your press conference, and I resent it greatly that you’re giving your advice to the press.”

Goldsmith said he only learned about Filner’s objections to the TMD extension by reading the newspaper.

Filner responded that he has “no obligation to inform you of any policy decisions I make; you have the obligation as my attorney to give me private and privileged communication.”

“I do not have to advise you on my policy considerations, but you have the obligation to defend me in any court action and to give me any advice in a privileged fashion,” Filner said.

Goldsmith said he represents the city of San Diego, which he calls a “municipal corporation” which includes the mayor and the City Council.

“I just hope to learn of these (issues) earlier, and we will give guidance. But when I see something that is not right, I have to speak out,” Goldsmith said.

Filner countered that Goldsmith sees himself as a policy-maker, not a city attorney.

Goldsmith responded by saying, “We used to have a city attorney who wanted to be mayor,” in reference to his outspoken predecessor Michael Aguirre, “and now we have a mayor who wants to be city attorney.”

The TMD agreement establishes a room tax levy on hoteliers that raises around $30 million to spend on advertising San Diego as a destination. Area hoteliers have threatened to sue to get the funds released.

Filner said he wants to make sure the city is indemnified against adverse court decisions over the charge in a pair of lawsuits; direct more money to public safety; shorten the deal to a couple of years; and have hotel workers be paid a “livable” wage.

He called the agreement a “free ride” for multinational hotel corporations.

Before the verbal sparring started, Goldsmith said the agreement already includes an indemnification provision; that directing money into the city’s general fund to pay for public safety would make it an illegal tax; and that the other two issues were policy questions for the City Council.

When the mayor said he expects the funding mechanism to lose in court, he addressed a woman in the back of the room who he believed shook her head.   “Are you an attorney? Are you an attorney? Are you an attorney?” Filner asked.

Goldsmith told the mayor she was his assistant.

After Filner left, Goldsmith said Filner was welcome to speak at his news conferences but should also be willing to listen and consult more often.

“I’m fine with him acting the way he wants to act,” Goldsmith said. “He’s the mayor, he’s got his own personality, his own character. It’s not for me to criticize him, but I’m going to be the city attorney I promised I would be.”

Filner previously got into a public spat with City Council President Todd Gloria, when he went to a meeting to challenge appointments to the San Diego Association of Governments.

SAN DIEGO — Tourism officials said they’re ready to take San Diego Mayor Bob Filner to court, accusing him of putting thousands of San Diegans at risk of losing their jobs.

Screen Shot 2013-02-19 at 10.11.28 PMMembers of San Diego’s Tourism Marketing District need Filner to sign off on a plan, already passed by City Council, which would release them a $30 million fund generated by tourism taxes on hotels.

City Council members approved the money last year to help the TMD in its mission to market San Diego as a tourist destination around the country and around the world.

But Mayor Filner said he won’t sign on the deal, calling it “a rip off to taxpayers.”

The mayor spoke of the pending lawsuit against the TMD challenging the process by which the hotel tax came to be in the first place.

“It was voted by hoteliers,” said Filner. “I am willing to renegotiate. A lawsuit will only make things worst for everyone.”

“There are thousands of jobs on the line,” said San Diego City Council President Todd Gloria, who voted with the majority that approved the $30 million in annual tax revenue be invested in the TMD and its marketing efforts.

“This is what we’ve been doing for years and to change course now would mean that we’re not marketing San Diego that means fewer visitors with less hotel tax revenue which means less money in our city’s general fund,” said Gloria.

Filner and other taxpayer advocates said they wish to reevaluate the agreement, which also renews the 5 year old contract with TMD for 39 years and 6 months.

“Why can’t we just renew their contract for 1 year, why does it have to be 40, and why can’t we ask the hotels to pay for their marketing that way the city can keep more of the tax revenue to hire police officers and firefighters,” said Filner.

Tourism officials stressed keeping the money in limbo is already putting thousands of jobs that depend on those funds in jeopardy.

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