As the number of sexual harassment allegations continues to grow, The Associated Press reported Sunday that the petition drive to recall San Diego’s Mayor Bob Filner from office officially began at midnight Saturday.
But the effort begins in earnest later Sunday at the finish line of a half marathon and at a "Freedom from Filner" march downtown.
U-T San Diego reported that “campaign organizers said the next week or so will demonstrate whether the outrage and disgust they sense in the community over Filner’s alleged sexual misconduct and other aspects of his tenure up to now will translate into people not only signing petitions, but seeking them out."
The Huffington Post added that – according to a 10News/U-T San Diego poll conducted by SurveyUSA within hours of the commencement of the petition drive -- 81 percent of the 600 San Diego residents that were reached in the survey “said yes to a Filner resignation, while 14 percent said no.”
As CNN reported Thursday, 67-year-old Peggy Shannon is the sixteenth woman to come forward to accuse Filner of sexual harassment.
Shannon – a great-grandmother who works at the Senior Citizens Service Desk in San Diego City Hall -- said Filner kissed her and once asked if she “thought he could go eight hours in one night."
After serving 10 terms in Congress, 70-year-old Filner was elected mayor of the eighth-largest American city in 2012.
His accusers range from a singer at a campaign fundraiser to his former communications director, who called him unfit for office.
Making matters worse for Filner, CNN further reported that “investigators are also looking into possible financial impropriety -- including questionable charges at the Westgate Hotel, where Filner allegedly took women.”
The San Diego's City Attorney's Office told CNN Thursday that Section 108 -- a rarely used statute of the San Diego city charter that dates back to 1931 – would allow for the removal of Filner from office -- without a recall – “over unauthorized payments from the city treasury.”
CNN also noted that the city attorney’s office had already determined that “the charges were inappropriate.”
On Friday, The Christian Science Monitor (CSM) reported that former San Diego Republican Mayor Pete Wilson -- who also served two terms as California’s governor and two terms as a US senator -- said Filner “has rendered himself unable to fulfill the obligations of his office.”
CSM also reported that House minority leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. – who already “scolded former Democratic colleagues Anthony Weiner of New York and Bob Filner of California for their 'reprehensible' behavior amid sex scandals,” according to the July 25 report by Newsmax -- has added her voice to the increasing number of politicians calling for Filner to resign.
Both of California’s Democratic US senators -- Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer -- all nine members of the San Diego City Council, the Democratic Party of San Diego and the Democratic National Committee Chairman – Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla. -- have already called for Filner to step down.
While Filner admitted in a videotaped public apology last month that his conduct had been “inappropriate and wrong” -- acknowledging that he "failed to fully respect the women who work for” him and “with” him, that his constituents “have every right to be disappointed in” him and that he was "embarrassed" by his actions -- he informed San Diego’s voters that, because he believes he would be vindicated by "a full presentation of the facts," he would not resign.
Instead, Filner asked them to give him “an opportunity to prove” that he is “capable of change.”
According to a letter posted on the official “Recall Bob Filner” website -- from the law firm representing the embattled mayor, Pope, Berger & Williams, LLP – his legal team is laying the blame for Filner’s actions on the City of San Diego.
The City has a legal obligation to provide sexual harassment training to all management level employees and to provide such training to new managers within six (6) months of hire.
Government Code Section 12950.1
The City failed to provide such training to Mayor Filner.
However, one would think that a man who boasted himself as a champion of women’s rights during his mayoral campaign would already have a clear understanding of the behaviors that could be defined as “sexual harassment” and which lines should not be crossed in his position as one of San Diego’s “new managers.”
“Bob Filner is the only candidate for mayor who has spent his career fighting for women's rights,” reads an April 20 article by East County Magazine -- which is still posted on his “Bob Filner for Mayor 2012” campaign website -- regarding a press release from the Filner campaign.
In Congress, Filner co-sponsored the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. He is endorsed by the National Organization for Women (NOW) San Diego chapter and has earned an “A+” from Planned Parenthood for his voting record to support women’s rights.
“Mayor Filner is out of rehab,” Pelosi tweeted Thursday, “he should be out of the Mayor’s office – should not subject San Diegans to pain & expense of a recall.”
“If you haven't RSVP'ed for our volunteer/signature-gathering kickoff event at the Town & Country, Pacific Ballroom, 1-4 p.m.,” reads Friday’s announcement of Sunday’s petition drive effort on “Recall Bob Filner,” “the link to the event is below.”
“We need your help to prove that it's NOT impossible for the public to rise up and remove from office a man that has proved he is not worthy or capable of leading our city," the announcement reads in part. "Let's show Filner the door.”
As of Sunday morning, 284 people said they are “going” to attend the signature gathering event, with an additional 67 saying “maybe.”
As Fox 5 out of San Diego reported Aug. 13, local business are also sending Filner the message that they don’t want him walking through their doors.
"This establishment recognizes that we all have political differences and we serve people from all walks of life," reads the signs, placed in the windows of four San Diego-area Hooters restaurants.
We also believe it is imperative for people to have standards. The Mayor of San Diego will not be served in this establishment. We believe women should be treated with respect.
The signs – the Aug. 7 brain-child of conservative national radio and television personality Glenn Beck and still available for download at his website, “The Blaze,” have also started showing up in the windows of other businesses outside of the San Diego area.
The signs are also being promoted by Steve Slater, a talk show host for San Diego’s AM 760 – the same station that also broadcasts Beck’s program.
As noted by CNN, the San Diego City Council plans to vote Aug. 28 on whether to invoke Section 108.
If it does vote to do so, it would then ask a court to remove Filner from office.