July 24 2013 09:26 AM

A trio of press conferences take aim at the Bob Filner Problem

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Kevin Faulconer and a lone Filner supporter at Monday’s press conference.
Photo by Kelly Davis
"One can survive everything nowadays, except death, and live down anything, except a good reputation."

—Oscar Wilde

They came to bury Mayor Bob Filner, not praise him. As Marc Antony (who also considered himself quite the ladies' man) said, via Shakespeare, "The evil that men do lives after them. The good is oft interred with their bones."

And so it will likely be for this mayor, who's made so many 21st-century promises—some fulfilled— but seems to be stuck with a Stone Age view of women. And based on allegations that came to light Monday, Spin apologizes to all cavemen for the comparison.

But beyond Filner's growing problem with the women who traveled in his apparently twisted orbit, this seemingly never-ending saga has exposed a cringing public to the seedy underbelly of political power plays.

Some smart folks note the unfolding drama involving San Diego State University and its mysteriously fired women's basketball coach, Beth Burns, over what U-T San Diego claims was physical contact with an assistant who left and was paid a $250,000 settlement.

In that case, both sides are tight-lipped.

Conversely, nearly every political tree in the forest seems to believe they have salient points to make about the Bob Problem. Some, like Council President Todd Gloria and sidekick/BFF Councilmember Kevin Faulconer, have a clear interest in Filner's departure, considering how their names get floated as potential replacements, even, Spin is told, from their own mouths. (If both really want it, it makes Spin wonder how long that friendship lasts.)

At high-noon Monday, in possibly the poorest-timed press conference in modern political history, the duo stood before cameras to repeat their call for Filner's head and insist the city's a rudderless ship amongst threatening icebergs. But, the good news, they assured, is that the city will be fine under Glo-Faulc leadership. In other words, it was rehearsal time for mayoral-candidacy speeches.

But a half-hour later, those reassurances were a mere blip compared with the damning accusations laid at the feet of the mayor by his former communications director, Irene McCormack-Jackson, and her famous pitbull of an attorney, Gloria Allred, the hands-down media queen of sexual-harassment dragon slayers.

The lawsuit filed by Allred paints a perverse portrait of our sitting mayor, a sort of Larry Flynt-meets-Fred Flintstone. And the fact that the victim making the allegations is a former top-notch journalist, experienced public-relations impresario and, frankly, one tough cookie, Spin has little doubt that she will be Filner's worst nightmare.

Filner, as he did later Monday, can respond all he wants that he's "saddened" by these mounting allegations, that comments about pantyless work days and consummation pleas and headlockdragging incidents were somehow misconstrued—aka, "Hey, I was only teasing!" 

Again, Filner is certainly entitled to his defense, but he must know deep down somewhere beyond the "monster inside" that his dream days as mayor are closer to the end than the beginning—that is, if he truly loves this city and would do anything to care for it.

But by his defense, what is not made clear is whether Filner has begun the counseling he readily admitted, via DVD, that he needs in light of blistering allegations that have emerged since his public breakup with fiancée Bronwyn Ingram. Of course, that was the day before he returned to Defiant Bob and vowed to fight all charges brought against him.

Which leads, of course, to the inevitable speculation about Filner's true motives here. Are the feds planning a July / August surprise of indictments over the recent Sunroad "pay-to-play" allegations, which many on the left believe was a set-up royale? If so, have Filner's attorneys suggested he hold his ground until those drop so as to provide a bargaining chip— that being resignation—in hopes of making those charges go away?

What's becoming clear is what we've known about Filner from Day One: He's a seriously flawed human being who will go down in flames before giving up the fight. His heart—at least the good part—is forever tied to the underdogs among us while simultaneously holding people of privilege in contempt. This will be Filner's call, not the local Democratic Party and its members who seem conflicted about how to react to this ticking time bomb.

And it certainly won't be the call of the sneering class over in local Republican-land, some of whom as city staffers continue to blame the molasses pace of city business on the Filner escapades, all the while spending most of their working days trying to out-clever themselves on social media.

(How council members like Faulconer and Scott Sherman tolerate this willful waste of taxpayer money—in essence paying staffers to earn non-fungible brownie points with local GOP pointy heads like Chairman/"retired" hacker Tony Krvaric—is beyond Spin, but there it is.)

But these folks are like mosquitoes sticking it to a beached whale carcass. Jumping on a casket doesn't make anyone more dead; it just makes the jumpers out to be the petty, small-minded adolescents who back in my school days would be relegated to "squealer" status and ostracized, if not thoroughly pummeled on the playground.

These little mosquitoes will still be buzzing around saying "I told you so," you can bet, but they owe a huge debt of thanks to McCormack-Jackson, who Monday bravely waded into a sea of media sharks to humanize allegations that beforehand were simply read to us by surrogates. As well-intentioned as these surrogates might have been, the gravity— the full-throated grossness—of the claims made by McCormack-Jackson, calm under the brutal lights of inquisition, took hold like we were voyeurs to a creepfest.

Which reminds Spin: what the heck was that third and final press conference all about with City Attorney Jan Goldsmith? For a guy whose typical response to questions about pending litigation is a terse "No comment," it seemed an awful lot like a prosecutor laying out a case rather than a city defender calling for calm.

As one political observer noted privately to Spin, "Same political disease—not smart enough to keep their mouths shut."

Apparently there is still no cure for the ambitious.


Got a tip? Send it to johnl@sdcitybeat.com or follow John R. Lamb on Twitter @johnrlamb.

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