Jan. 24 2014 12:00 AM

Former mayor was searching for a replacement for San Diego police chief, union president says

filner-speech
Bob Filner
Photo by Kelly Davis
In the months before sexual-harassment allegations forced his resignation, San Diego Mayor Bob Filner was trying to find a replacement for Police Chief Bill Lansdowne, says Brian Marvel, president of the San Diego Police Officers Association.  

Marvel says he heard from multiple, credible sources that in June and July, Filner-who resigned in late August-had been meeting with a number of people, none of them current San Diego Police Department employees, to see if they'd be interested in replacing Lansdowne. 

"I heard he was offering jobs to people," Marvel says. "Whether they accepted, I don't know."

Marvel said he wasn't given names of whom Filner was meeting with, nor the reason why the mayor wanted a new chief, beyond Filner not liking Lansdowne's approach to policing. A spokesperson for the police department said Lansdowne was traveling and not available for comment.

This week, the U.S. Attorney's office issued a complaint against former San Diego police officer Ernesto "Ernie" Encinas and campaign consultant Ravneet Singh for conspiring with Mexican businessman Jose Susumo Azano Matsura to illegally funnel money to local campaign committees, one of them being a PAC set up to support Filner's mayoral bid. Encinas told a representative of one campaign that any donations from Azano would hinge on a promise that the candidate, if elected, would fire Lansdowne and allow Encinas to pick his replacement. 

Today, Voice of San Diego reported that Encinas and lobbyist Marco Polo Cortes-who was arrested Wednesday for his role in the campaign-contribution scheme-met with Filner about liquor-license restrictions placed on a Downtown nightclub on whose behalf Cortes was lobbying city officials. Lansdowne, VoSD reports, offered a compromise that the club owners refused to accept. Lee Burdick, Filner's chief of staff, told VoSD that the mayor "would not second-guess the police chief on an issue of public safety."

Lansdowne's been San Diego's police chief since 2003. At a January 2012 mayoral debate, when candidates were asked whether they'd keep Lansdowne, if elected, Filner responded yes.

Calendar

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See all events on Thursday, May 26