|San Diego Mayor Set to Return After Therapy|
|By JULIE WATSON Associated Press||Aug 19, 2013, 3:04 AM|
After being out of sight for two weeks while undergoing therapy, San Diego's embattled mayor was spotted on Monday — not returning to City Hall but instead heading into an office building followed by an attorney for a woman who filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against him.
KFMB-TV in San Diego posted a video showing Mayor Bob Filner walking into the downtown building. Attorney Gloria Allred and her client Irene McCormack Jackson entered the building a short time later, the station said.
Allred and Filner declined to comment. However, the sightings fueled speculation that a possible lawsuit settlement was being discussed.
Along with the lawsuit, Filner is facing a recall effort prompted by a cascade of sexual harassment allegations that also led the entire City Council and many leading fellow Democrats to call for him to resign.
"He needs to resign," City Councilman Kevin Faulconer said as he headed into City Hall on Monday. "He doesn't represent us and he does not represent this city."
Faulconer was later seen entering the office building where Filner was spotted by the TV crew. The councilman declined to comment, referring questions to the city attorney's office, which declined to comment.
Filner's former communications director, McCormack, as she is known professionally, was the first of more than a dozen women to go public with harassment allegations. Since then his accusers have ranged from a university dean to a retired Navy rear admiral. Some contend he cornered, groped and forcibly kissed them.
McCormack filed a lawsuit claiming Filner asked her to work without panties, demanded kisses, told her he wanted to see her naked and dragged her in a headlock while whispering in her ear. The latest accuser came forward Thursday — a 67-year-old great-grandmother and volunteer city worker who assists senior citizens.
The accusations have prompted an avalanche of calls for Filner to resign, including from U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer. A recall effort started Sunday.
Hooters restaurants in San Diego even posted signs saying he's not welcome.
Filner has acknowledged that his behavior was unacceptable but has not termed it sexual harassment.
The 70-year-old feisty liberal, who served 10 terms in Congress before being elected mayor last November, has long had a reputation for berating employees and has been dogged by rumors of inappropriate behavior toward women. But nothing in his past approaches what has surfaced in the last six weeks.
City Council President Todd Gloria said Filner is not obligated to show up at City Hall but owes the people of San Diego an explanation of his whereabouts. The city's daily operations have been running fine without Filner, he said, and should the mayor appear it could make female employees uncomfortable.
"Those of us who have called on the mayor to resign know he is not being effective at this time," Gloria said. "The mayor's presence is a distraction."
Filner's spokeswoman Lena Lewis and lawyer James Payne did not respond to calls.
Before going into therapy, Filner asked voters to be patient while he gets help.
He vowed when he returned that his "focus will be on making sure that I am doing right by the city in terms of being the best mayor I can be, and the best person I must be."
Filner has agreed not to meet with women alone on city business and has delegated broad authority to a new interim chief operating officer.
A few dozen Filner supporters rallied outside City Hall on Monday, engaging in heated arguments with opponents.
The recall effort must collect 101,597 signatures of registered San Diego voters by Sept. 26. If the petition has fewer than that, the recall campaign will have 30 more days to circulate a supplemental petition to gather additional valid signatures.
If enough signatures are validated by the city clerk, the petition will be presented to the City Council, which must schedule an election within 60 to 90 days.