The six members of the San Diego City Council who have called for Mayor Bob Filner to resign hope to persuade the three holdouts to join them and make a resolution calling for his resignation unanimous.
Council President Todd Gloria, a Democrat, and Kevin Faulconer, the senior Republican on the council, say a 9-0 vote could sway the 70-year-old Democrat.
But if Filner does not resign in the face of a sexual harassment lawsuit by a former top aide, there appear to be no provisions in the City Charter outlining an impeachment process.
Impeachment is something that was not considered when a civic group organized a "strong mayor" amendment to the charter last decade and won voter approval to give sweeping new powers to the mayor.
There are only two methods for a mayoral ouster: A felony conviction or a successful recall election.
So far, the Filner scandal has not resulted in a criminal investigation, although the San Diego County Sheriff's Department has opened a hotline to field allegations from women to determine if such an investigation is warranted.
A recall movement has been announced, but political pros give it little chance to succeed without money to hire signature gathers. And a pro-Filner group of community activists has vowed to oppose any recall.
Taking money from business interests to hire signature-gathers would play into an assertion by his supporters that the business community, including the owners of the local newspaper, has wanted to remove Filner ever since he was elected in November promising to end the "old-boy network" that he says has run San Diego for decades.
Meanwhile, the city has 30 days to respond to a lawsuit filed by Irene McCormack Jackson, Filner's former director of communication, now in another job at City Hall. The lawsuit, filed on Jackson's behalf by Los Angeles attorney Gloria Allred, names the city and Filner as defendants.
City Atty. Jan Goldsmith said Monday that Filner would have to get his own attorney because it would be a conflict for his office to represent the city and Filner. Whether the City Council will pay the mayor's legal bills is an open question.
Also on Monday, Goldsmith said he has insisted the mayor abide by a rule banning him from meeting alone with any woman while on city property. The rule will be enforced by the mayor's chief of staff, Goldsmith said.
Among the unknowns in the scandal is whether other women will file lawsuits or claims.
"I saw him place his hands where they did not belong on numerous women," Jackson said at Monday's news conference announcing her lawsuit.
Late Monday afternoon Filner issued a statement denying the allegations.
"I am saddened by the charges that were leveled against me today," Filner said. "I do not believe these claims are valid. That is why due process is so important. I intend to defend myself vigorously and I know that justice will prevail."
Filner, the first Democrat elected mayor in San Diego in two decades, had previously released a video in which he apologized for his behavior — acknowledging, "I need help" — though he later issued a statement denying he had committed sexual harassment.
He has refused to resign and has hired an attorney to fight the allegations.
A former reporter and editor for the San Diego Union-Tribune, Jackson, 57, was the Port of San Diego's $175,000-a-year vice president for public policy when she left to join Filner's staff at a salary of $125,000 soon after he was elected in November.
Jackson said that when Filner's former deputy chief of staff confronted him with allegations of mistreating women on his staff, Filner only laughed. The deputy chief of staff has since resigned. Jackson said she realized then that Filner would not change.
Jackson's lawsuit asks for unspecified damages. Allred said the damages would be determined during trial.
In 1991, the city paid $100,000 to a city planner who alleged that she was coerced into a sexual relationship with her boss. Since then, however, payments appear to have been smaller in sexual harassment cases.
In a recent year, the city settled four workplace harassment complaints for a total of $70,000, city records show.