SAN DIEGO -- Can it get any weirder around here?
The mayor’s former communications director has accused the mayor of sexual harassment, saying he routinely grabbed her, dragged her around in a headlock, and asked her to have sex. She’s suing him and the city of San Diego. The mayor has apologized, vowed to be a better person and has announced he will enter a two-week rehab. The mayor’s private attorney has asked the city of San Diego to foot the mayor's legal bills. The San Diego City Council has not just refused, but has also voted to sue the mayor to recover any legal fees it incurs defending itself against his bad behavior.
Mayor Headlock is in a world of hurt.
There appears to be only one way out.
And it’s not rehab.
“The mayor can do the right thing,” City Council President Todd Gloria told me Tuesday evening. “He can resign and this would end the nightmare almost immediately.”
But the Democratic mayor, clinging to the idea of "due process," does not seem inclined to step down. He’s gone underground since he announced he’d be dealing with his problems in therapy.
San Diego seems to be functioning as usual -- "Yes, the trash will get picked up, the water will still flow," said Gloria -- but the scandal is starting to grate on the citizens.
“We are not only a national joke, we are an international joke,” complained Anne Rauch, a San Diego construction defects attorney who urged the City Council on Tuesday not to pay for Filner’s legal fees. (It’s hard to contradict her assessment. Stephen Colbert has already made fun of Filner, and those Taiwanese animators had their fun, too.)
And if the city weren't already reeling, yet another middle-aged married professional woman – the eighth, if you’re counting -- came forward Tuesday to allege the mayor had tried to hit on her. Lisa Curtin, director of government and military education at San Diego City College, told KPBS that her unpleasant encounter with Filner took place after a business meeting in 2011, when he was still a congressman. "I got a very wet, saliva-filled kiss including feeling his tongue on my cheek," she told the public television station.
When I asked Gloria, who is also a Democrat, to assess the city’s dysfunction on a scale of one to 10, he demurred. “I don’t have a dysfunction meter,” he said. "The question is: at what level are we operating?”