Friday, August 30, 2013

Filner Post-Mortem

So we're all aware that Bob Filner finally resigned right?  Good.  Whether it was my egregiously profane open letter, or the fact that there were a few people seen sharpening pitchforks outside of the City Concourse, Filner finally decided to resign, effective tomorrow.  For the past week, I've been thinking about what to say about all of this, well, I think we need to clear up a few things.

1. Bob Filner's Fall Was All About His Behavior Towards Women

Despite all the talk about lynch mobs, the reason Filner had to resign was due to his treatment of a large number of women.  For the most part, his behavior was merely disgusting.  In the case of the two sexual abuse survivors (who I discussed in my open letter), it was very disgusting.  In the case of Irene McCormick and Peggy Shannon, his behavior crossed into full-blown sexual harassment.  Now, there are those who think that Filner deserved due process regarding sexual harassment charges.  And, while he will, its safe to say that 18 women would all make up stories of essentially the same behavior is highly unlikely.  Especially when many of these women come from Democratic politics.

2. The Settlement Hometowned Gloria Allred

Under the terms of the resignation settlement, the City pays for the legal fees associated with defending against the McCormick litigation, and covers Filner's independent counsel's legal fees up to $98,000. Now, given that Allred was at the mediation, the City could've settled the McCormick litigation right then and there.  It didn't, and its because Allred is reportedly seeking damages in excess of $1 million.  Instead, Filner and the City teamed up to fight the litigation.  

With that said, you might wonder whether McCormick and Allred are better off taking their chances with a jury.  After all, we know Filner did what he did.  But, there are a couple of problems here - 1. McCormick worked for the City at a steep discount, and can probably go back to earning a heck of a lot more money working elsewhere.  So, there isn't any economic damages. 2. The only damages would fall into the noneconomic category - emotional distress damages and punitive damages - and San Diego juries tend to be stingy.  Add to that the fact that Allred now has to litigate the case, increasing her costs, while removing her biggest pressure point (Filner's personal legal fees), and you can see why Allred tried to kill the settlement last week.

By the way, of all the women who have come forward, Peggy Shannon probably has the best claim. Unlike McCormick, she isn't someone the local media would recognize, and Filner simply terrorized the poor woman, literally forcing her to deal with his sexual advances every day she went to work.  I could see a local jury dropping a $1 million verdict on Filner if Shannon sued, but I'm pretty sure McCormick won't see anywhere near that kind of money.

3. Despite What Lori Saldana Says, Nobody in the San Diego Democratic Party Knew That Bob Filner Sexually Harassed Anyone

In July, former State Assemblymember Lori Saldana claimed she told the San Diego Democratic Party Leadership that some women had come to her and told her that Filner had harassed them.  And I know that a lot of people have said that because of this, the Democratic Party excused Bob Filner's misdeeds. 

That's simply not the case.  Instead, the Party, through Jess Durfee (the Party Chairman) asked Filner about the allegations, and Filner denied them.  Durfee asked Saldana to have the women come and talk to him, and none of them did.  Now, keep in mind that Durfee and Saldana had conflicts in the past what you see is someone receiving nonspecific allegations about "harassment" from someone he didn't fully trust.  Also throw into that equation that Filner was known to be a terrible boss, and you can understand where he's coming from.

Lastly, and this is a key point, Filner had to be the last person Durfee expected to harass anyone. As Alex Roth carefully documents in his article, Filner was a misanthrope who barely knew the names of staffers, much less whether they were married or had kids.  I've seen Filner at social functions, and except for when he was on stage, the best description of his behavior was "awkward."  He wasn't a Bill Clinton, everyone-must-love-me type. 

Oh, and I should note, that in an act of political cowardice, Lori Saldana endorsed Filner for mayor, even though she knew he was a sexual predator.  Way to go Lori!

4. I Get the Feeling that Fletcher Has This Special Election In His Pocket

Beating out everyone to the starting gate on the Special Election was Nathan Fletcher, recently minted Democrat, who left the Republican Party when DeMaio outmaneuvered him for the GOP nod for Mayor in the last election.  While there's a lot that can be said about Fletcher, people who know him, including Lorena Gonzalez (former head of the San Diego Labor Council, and future Speaker of the Assembly), really, really like him. He seems to be the charismatic, "little ray of sunshine" type that San Diego voters love.  He already has the backing of the San Diego Firefighters, and will probably have the backing of all the other unions in short order.

Meanwhile, potential candidates like Carl DeMaio have their own issues (I'm not linking to the story about DeMaio allegedly masturbating in the men's room. Google it people), have decided not to run (Kehoe, Atkins), or are still deciding (Gloria, Falconer).  

Here's the thing - people elected Filner because they wanted someone from outside of City politics, but who was somewhat progressive.  Local Dems may be hurt by their association with Filner, but Fletcher wasn't part of the Democratic Party until recently.  Now, his past as a Republican will hurt him with Filner's diehard supporters (he clearly didn't expect Filner to blow-out this soon), but I haven't seen anyone else step up to the plate.

5. DeMaio Is Still Very Odd

As the Filner harassment scandal unfolded, I heard about DeMaio's alleged bathroom antics.  From what I understand, Hueso didn't want to go on the record about it, and the local media dropped the story, because, ewwwwwww.  Now, it is possible that this is true (though why he didn't use the stall, I have no idea), or that DeMaio was simply shaking vigorously after peeing, or that Hueso made the whole thing up.  It is a funny story, but to take it to the extreme, like the author in this piece, is to be more than slightly homophobic - calling the gay guy a pervert.

But with that said, let's keep in mind that a majority of voters picked Filner over DeMaio even though Filner was well-known as the "Grand Canyon of Assholes" (no doubt, a moniker Filner prefers to whatever we call him now).  This decision had to do with DeMaio's economically extreme politics, his constant battle with the truth, and well, he's a weird guy.  He got into the run-off in large part to years of careful planning, which he turned over to run for Congress.

Now for awhile, I thought that DeMaio would not run for Mayor in a Special, because he already lost that race, and Congress would be a better fit for him (more policy, less executive stuff).  But he did put years of his life into that race, and with the current timetable, he could run for Mayor, lose, and still run for Congress.  It would be tight, but he could do it.  But he has to wonder how he would fare against Fletcher, the centrist, in this race.  The fact that he hasn't jumped into the race already shows that he's concerned.


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