By JAMES R. RIFFEL
City News Service
After weeks of being dogged by allegations of sexual harassment, Bob Filner resigned today as mayor of San Diego, effective Aug. 30.
I apologize to all of you,’’ Filner said in the San Diego City Council chamber after the council emerged from a 90-minute closed-door meeting, during which the panel unanimously approved a settlement agreement with the mayor.
As part of that deal, the city will provide a joint legal defense with the mayor of claims against him by city employees or contractors, but the city reserves the right to seek reimbursement for any damages it suffers. Filner will also be permitted to hire his own lawyer, according to the city attorney.
Council members insisted that the deal was good for the city and taxpayers. The deal was approved 7-0, with council members Myrtle Cole and Scott Sherman out of town.
Although he apologized, Filner blamed a
lynch mob mentality’’ for leading to his demise, and insisted that henever sexually harassed anyone.’’
I think I let you down,’’ Filner said, addressing his supporters in the room.We had a chance to do a progressive vision in this city for the fist time in 50 years. ... We need you to carry that vision forward. This is not the time to let it die.’’
Filner, a 70-year-old former congressman, offered a personal apology to his former fiancee, Bronwyn Ingram.
I love you very much,’’ he said.You came to love San Diego as much as I did. And you did memorable things in the short time you were first lady and I personally apologize for the hurt I have caused you, Bronwyn.
To all the women that I offended, I had no intention to be offensive, to violate any physical or emotional space. I was trying to establish personal relationships, but the combination of awkwardness and hubris led to behavior that many found offensive.’’
Filner, mired in the sexual harassment claims and allegations of misusing a city-issued credit card and shakedowns of developers, had signed a resignation letter prior to the council’s meeting.
The deal between the city and the mayor stemmed from a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by Irene McCormack Jackson, the mayor’s ex-communications director. Her lawyer, Los Angeles-based Gloria Allred, said Thursday that her client’s portion of the litigation has not been settled.
The agreement in mediation talks led by retired federal Judge J. Lawrence Irving was reached Wednesday evening.
A total of 18 women have publicly accused Filner of improprieties.
One of them, Laura Fink, told the council members in the public comment portion of the meeting to keep the victims in mind during their deliberations.
I hope that you will consider the nature and degree of the deplorable behavior the mayor that has exhibited and the havoc he has wreaked on the lives of his victims and this beautiful city,’’ said Fink, who said Filner groped her buttocks at a congressional campaign fundraiser.
Enrique Morones, an immigrant-rights activist who has led a small contingent of the Filner supporters, said the mayor spent decades serving the oppressed, and that his downfall is
a public execution.’’