‘San Diego is back,’ interim mayor declares after Filner resigns
SAN DIEGO -- City Council President Todd Gloria has vowed to repair the damage he says was done to city government under Mayor Bob Filner, who resigned Friday after eight chaotic months in office.
While the sexual harassment allegations made against Filner by 18 women dominated the headlines during the six-week frenzy, council members had complained that Filner’s management style was hurting the operations of the city.
That style, they said, alternated between non-involvement and micromanaging. Clashes with council members, including Gloria, a fellow Democrat, were a common tactic in Filner’s approach to being mayor.
Under the city charter, Gloria will act as an interim mayor while the city holds a special election in the next 90 days to find a successor.
With a soft-spoken style that contrasts with Filner’s confrontational, abrasive manner, Gloria will inherit several mayoral duties and powers but not, for example, the right to veto City Council actions.
The council Friday voted, 7-0, to accept a mediation deal that included a swap: Filner will resign and the city will allocate $98,000 for his private lawyers in the sexual harassment lawsuit filed against Filner and the city by Irene McCormack Jackson, Filner’s former director of communications.
The city will also defend Filner in the suit and pay his share of any damages awarded in court or in a pretrial settlement.
Gloria, 35, who is serving his second term on the council, said he would no longer act as chairman of the council meetings “while I fulfill the duties of the mayor.”
His first step, he said, is “a top-down review of all city departments” and “swift action on pending items that have languished on Mayor Filner’s desk for months.”
He also promised quicker response for public records requests and improved openness with the media. There will also be “staffing changes needed,” he said.
Gloria is a history and political science graduate of the University of San Diego and a former member of the San Diego Housing Commission and former chairman of the San Diego LGBT Community Center.
The headline on a story in the San Francisco Chronicle about Gloria said, “San Diego to get a gay mayor.” The story notes that San Diego will become the nation’s second-largest city “to be led by an openly gay person.” The largest, it said, is Houston.
Gloria endorsed Filner in the fall election and hoped to form a political partnership. Instead Filner publicly criticized Gloria on numerous fronts. Relations between the two grew chilly even before the sexual harassment scandal erupted.
Filner also feuded with City Atty. Jan Goldsmith from the beginning of his administration. He crashed a Goldsmith news conference, labeled Goldsmith as unprofessional and criticized high-profile misdemeanor prosecutions brought by Goldsmith’s office.
Gloria, Goldsmith and Councilman Kevin Faulconer represented the city during three days of intense mediation with Filner and his lawyers that resulted in the deal that included Filner’s resignation.
In his farewell speech that was alternately apologetic and defiant, the 70-year-old Filner, who served on the San Diego school board, city council, and then 10 terms in Congress, complained that the council strong-armed him by refusing to pay for his legal defense unless he resigned.
“I can’t afford to continue this battle,” he said.
Gloria had a different analysis of the situation, saying the deal ended “our civic nightmare.”
“We have lost ground over the past few months,” he said. “As of today, we are done losing ground. San Diego is back.”
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