SAN DIEGO -- Mayor Bob Filner said today that starting Aug. 5 he will enter a two-week intensive therapy program to seek treatment after being accused by numerous women of sexual harassment. To date, seven women have come forward to level charges at Filner, and one woman has filed a lawsuit against the mayor and the City of San Diego.
Filner apologized to his staff, his supporters, the people of San Diego, and to the women who have crossed his path.
"I must take responsibility for my conduct," Filner said at a news conference covered by a huge throng of media from across the nation.
As the mayor spoke, his microphone stopped working and Filner stood awkwardly for several minutes before walking out of the room as technicians tried to fix the problem.
When Filner returned, he started his prepared speech from the beginning.
Filner said he would be at the clinic full time during the two-week intensive therapy, but would be briefed daily on city business.
The mayor's press spokeswoman said Filner would not take any questions from the press, and indeed Filner walked out of the room as reporters shouted out questions.
Soon afterward, City Councilmember Kevin Faulconer weighed in on the latest development in the Filner scandal, which includes questions about a lavish trip to Paris, controversial dealings with developers that reportedly are being investigated by federal officials, his abrasive management style, clashes with the City Council and other allegations.
“Two weeks of therapy will not end decades of bad behavior," Faulconer said. "Bob Filner should leave to receive the help he obviously needs, but he shouldn’t take the office of the mayor and San Diego city government with him. He needs to resign and seek long-term treatment as a private citizen.”
Faulconer and a supermajority of the City Council, including Council President Todd Gloria, have called on the mayor to resign.
Council President Todd Gloria said Filner is only prolonging the pain by staying in office.
“Bob Filner’s announcement that he will be taking a leave of absence prolongs the pain he is inflicting on our city at a time when San Diegans are calling for an end to this civic nightmare," Gloria said.
"The Mayor has finally acknowledged his very serious disorder which prevents his ability to govern and seriously affects his ability to interact with people. As would be the case with any leader in government or business, the standard he has to uphold is greater than to simply get treatment.
“Since the City Charter hasn't clearly spelled out how to handle this situation, it requires us to ask in the strongest terms possible for the Mayor's resignation in a manner that allows the continuation of effective government for all San Diegans. The time for indecisiveness and inaction is over. I again call upon the Mayor to resign.
“While Mr. Filner is choosing to continue to undermine the ability to run the City efficiently and effectively, I want to reassure the people of San Diego that my Council colleagues, City employees, and I remain focused on the providing the services citizens expect from your government,” Gloria said.
City Councilman Scott Sherman was even more blunt.
“San Diegans should accept nothing less than Bob Filner’s resignation and/or arrest,” Sherman said.
One of Filner's accusers, Morgan Rose, who said Filner crossed the line with her in 2009, said today that two weeks of "intense therapy" was not enough. Rose is a psychologist with the San Diego Unified School District. Here is what she is quoted saying in the Voice of San Diego:
“This is very deep-seated,” she said. “Who’s going to feel comfortable around him?”
“You don’t rehab these kinds of people,” she said. “He doesn’t even understand what we’re talking about. He doesn’t even have the wiring to understand how a woman feels when he does something like that.”
The city would be better off with “a real statesman or stateswoman,” Rose said.
“Do we have to put Band-Aids on this horrible person and call him our mayor?” she said. “If he’s going to go therapy it’s going to only be to hang on to power. His heart’s not going to be in it.”