The Widder Curry: “It’s Hard to Support the Mayor, But…”

by on July 25, 2013 · 24 comments

in Culture, Media, Politics, San Diego, The Widder Curry

Filner P&P 6-28-13By Judi Curry

I have tried to stay out of the Filner controversy since it started. After all, I was – am – a supporter of his. I have a picture of him with me on my front window, and have cheered him on as he tackles the “good old boys” from yesteryear. To say that I am appalled at the events that have taken place recently is a mild rejoinder. The betrayal that I have felt towards the mayor is pure and simple anger. How could he? He won the election by setting up goals and principles that he is fighting for now.

When Donna Frye gave her first press conference I felt nauseated for hours afterwards. I worked on Donna’s campaign; I respect her more than any other politician I have ever met. And then came her second press conference and I wondered what happened to her. The yelling is so out of character. I was sorry to see her lose her composure.

Then Irene McCormack stepped forward and talked about the things that Filner did to her. She didn’t want any publicity, but she hired Gloria Allred to represent her? I don’t doubt, for a minute, that what she said happened really did happen. But did it happen the way she says it did? I don’t know. I do know that she is a well respected person in San Diego.

And then the interview yesterday from another victim. Let me quote what I took off the internet: “Another woman has come forward accusing San Diego Mayor Bob Filner of making unwanted sexual advances.”

Political consultant Laura Fink told KPBS News in an exclusive interview Tuesday that when Filner was a Congressman he made an inappropriate joke while patting her “posterior” at a fundraiser during the time she was working for him.

Besides the fact that this took place YEARS ago, he thought he was making a “joke.” Many men, put into uncomfortable positions (no pun intended) make what they think are “jokes” only to discover that they are crude, crass, and unwanted. Is this what happened to Ms. Fink? And why is this coming up now?

I have sympathy for the women involved. No one should be put in a position where they have to accept unwelcome advances from anyone, regardless of gender and/or position. There are some women, however, that would not find these two stories sexual harassment. In fact, I know some women that would welcome the attention from the Mayor of San Diego!

The lynch mob that Faulconer and Gloria are trying to put together is as bad as the accusations against the mayor. For the life of me I cannot see how a sexual harassment charge can destroy everything the mayor is trying to accomplish. His goals are still the same – Balboa Park; hotels; Sunroad, etc.

Sexually harassing women – although reprehensible in itself – will not stop those wonderful things taking place that Filner wants to accomplish. No, our righteous councilmen can point fingers and say “we can’t approve ANYTHING that Filner does. After all, he is a “sexual harasser.” Bull crap. And to say that women can no longer meet with Filner alone – whose brilliant idea is that? What if the woman wants to meet with Filner alone? Does that mean she cannot? How many gods are there running San Diego?

People keep saying they are tired of the “due process” statement. Let me tell you about a situation I had years ago. (I have mentioned this before in another article. If you already read it it is worth reading again.) As a principal I had four 6th grade girls come up to me and tell me that they were touched inappropriately by their teacher – a male that had taught for over 7 years. I immediately turned the situation over to the Superintendent of Schools and an investigation resulted in a court case where the girls stuck to their story and the teacher was arrested; given a prison sentence; told he would have to register as a sex offender, and lost his teaching credential.

Four years later one of the girls recanted her testimony and said she was angry at the teacher because he gave her a failing grade on a paper she wrote. The other girls quickly changed their testimony also. The teacher was released from prison but although cleared of the charges, could not get a teaching job anywhere. I do not know if what I heard is true, because I left the school district, but I heard that after a few years he committed suicide. And he was given “due process.”

I do not condone Filner for his alleged actions. We women have worked so hard to be accepted as an equal rather than as a sex symbol. No one has the right to put his hands on anyone if those advances are not wanted. (I can tell you about one of my teachers – female – that made a “play” for me when I was her Principal. She had no right to do that also. And I can also tell you that at one time I made a “play” for one of my male instructors in “fun” except that he didn’t take it the way I meant it. After he told me he didn’t appreciate it, I tried never to do it again – to anyone.)

I think that City Hall can continue to operate in an exciting and challenging mode regardless of the charges pending against our Mayor. Before everyone jumps on the “lynch the bastard” bandwagon, let’s hear the facts. Only then can the electorate make up their minds as to what road to follow.

{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Mike July 25, 2013 at 9:42 am

Judi,

You want the facts? The facts are:

Bob Filner has admitted to the following:
“I have diminished the office to which you elected me.”
“I’m clearly doing something wrong.”
“I have failed to fully respect the women who work for me and with me, and at times I have intimidated them.”
“It’s a good thing that behavior that would have been tolerated in the past is being called out in this generation for what it is: inappropriate and wrong.”
“I need help.”
“You have every right to be disappointed in me.”
“I brought this on through my own personal frailties. The biggest monster is inside of me, which we will deal with.”

These direct quotes combined with Irene’s chargers leave no doubt in my mind that he has sexually harassed his employees while in office.

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avatar judi curry July 25, 2013 at 11:03 am

Which office, Mike? The current one? Just what does he admit to? Using poor judgement? I have no doubt that he might have sexually harassed women. I am wondering if he knew it was sexual harassment at the time. Yes, he failed his supporters; yes he failed to respect women; but I still think that City Hall should be able to function in spite of these accusations.

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avatar Debra July 25, 2013 at 10:04 am

I agree with everything you said and what a horrific thing for a life to be destroyed all because someone lied–I hope those girls have never forgotten what they did. I worked in customer service for many years and put up with daily sexual harassment (from CUSTOMERS–so that made it “ok”), yet if ONE customer made a complaint, against us, we could be fired/suspended. So far, none of these incidents the mayor is accused of, even *compares* to what I personally consider REAL harassment. Most of it sounds like flirting/trying to come off as a “ladies man,” or possibly a physical ailment, if his behavior is out of character. And as soon as Gloria Allred became involved, it began to raise my suspicions about the allegations.
I personally wonder if our mayor is/has been self-medicating with Viagra and needs a physical check-up?

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avatar judi curry July 25, 2013 at 11:07 am

There’s “sexual harassment” and there is sexual harassment. Some is wanted by some; some is rejected by others, and in the fact they may be the very same thing. Without naming names, I have a friend whose daughter would be horrified by such actions, while my friend would welcome the advances and turn it into a humorous situation. None of us should be subjected to sexual harassment; but as a reader on the SDFP wrote on this same article, why didn’t she just slap his face and tell him she didn’t appreciate his rude and crude behaviour?

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avatar Catherine July 25, 2013 at 11:11 am

Nope, in the workplace, there is simply sexual harassment regardless of how any individual person might handle it. A staffer shouldn’t be put in the position of slapping her boss in the face. These are just excuses.

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avatar SaneVoice July 25, 2013 at 10:19 am

Sorry to burst your bubble, Mike, but the doubt in your mind isn’t grounds for Filner to be removed from office. Doug Manchester and his poor excuse for a newspaper would like the citizens of San Diego to storm the castle and burn Filner at the stake, but we live in a country that grants us “due process” under the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution. While Filner might be guilty, he as a US citizen has that right just as you and I do.

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avatar Tom Hunter July 25, 2013 at 10:20 am

Well due process good. But also before sending out for the rope, what are we going to get in return for Filner? I wonder how much trouble could have been avoided if the first woman he groped filed a police report?

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avatar Catherine July 25, 2013 at 11:06 am

I’m sorry, but the idea that anyone would find these two stories revealing of anything other than sexual harassment strikes me as having one’s head stuck in another decade or the sand. Read the law and you will have clarification. There is no circumstance in which it is okay for a boss to initiate sexual jokes or advances to his or her employees. None. And to continue those advances when the other person has told you to stop, is inexcusable. To say some women would want his attention strikes me as a subtle form of victim blaming. I don’t think you intend to do that, but there it is lingering in the text.

I understand being disappointed. I understand concerns about ruining someone over accusations. And that’s why we have the means to investigate. But it concerns me that many of the people calling for due process, telling others to wait for the investigation to shake out, are also simultaneously excusing what the mayor is alleged to have done as maybe not so bad, you know, considering he’s otherwise such a great guy and maybe he was just joking. I am struggling with the fact that mayor has not denied these events. He has only said things that would seem to confirm them — see Mike’s quotations above — couched in denials that indicate he’s unaware that he’s doing something really wrong. Sorry, but a stunning lack of self-awareness and ignorance of the law are not an acceptable defense here.

The idea that people representing the party of labor, of working people, are willing to turn a blind eye to Filner cornering a staffer in her office, trying to kiss her and refusing to leave her office, or telling her she’d work better with her panties off, because they like his other policy goals is just beyond appalling to me. I heard people chanting due process yesterday when the head of the local veteran’s group announced they would not have him speaking at their conference for victims of sexual assault and harassment in the military. Seriously? How could he possibly be a credible spokesperson in that forum?

Finally, he can’t meet alone with women because it is a liability for the city. He himself agreed to these terms through his attorney. Any person working in any organization, including a city employee, would have already been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation.

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avatar Chev Chelios July 25, 2013 at 11:26 am

What if Filner was a republican? Would you feel the same way?

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avatar Jeffeck July 25, 2013 at 1:55 pm

All of you who are slow to judge Mayor Filner would be first in line to buy the rope if it were Jerry Sanders or Roger Hedgecock. You wouldn’t even have wait for women to come forward. the You cant even fein respect for Council members Falconer and Gloria in your article.

Look I understand you wanting your point of view represented at City Hall but you have to have some modicum of evenhandeness here or else you lose all of your credibility. It is OK to have a point of view in a publication that presents itself as having one. But you cannot ask us to excuse the inexcusable.

That would be a discredit to those who are honest brokers of your ideology. It makes you look like “the ends justify the means” Alinskyites.

P.S. And yes many conservatives read your blog because it has great local coverage and provides a differing, yet respectful point of view.

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avatar Debra July 25, 2013 at 3:39 pm

I, for one, didn’t even vote for Filner. I opted for DeMaio as I thought he’d get the city out of paying exorbitant pensions. I do think he’s done a lot of good things so far and I can’t help but be suspicious of a former newspaper reporter that would take a $50,000 a year pay cut, employed by the Port District possibly until retirement, to work in the mayor’s office for a couple of years. Or now a school psychologist who claims to be a “champion for children,” that sat silent for the past 4yrs.

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avatar judi curry July 25, 2013 at 4:01 pm

Debra, you know what bothers me the most about the school psychologist’s report: Her comment about after hearing from the others she realizes that the kiss on her mouth would have been “in her mouth.” What the hell! This is a psychologist?

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avatar Sean M July 25, 2013 at 4:31 pm

Filner’s staff and the democratic party have known about the groping and lewd comments for years, yet chose to cover it up.

Now, due process with outside counsel is going to cost the city a lot of $ that wont’ be spent fixing potholes or broken water mains… :-(

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avatar rose davis July 25, 2013 at 8:14 pm

Thank you Judi for offering some ballast to this near hysterical political spectacle.
There is a real disconnect between the communities in San Diego that the mayor represents. Generally speaking, those that want his head are represented mainly by those who worry about getting their kids to soccer practice on time. The supporters of the mayor are worried about walking to the grocery store without getting shot by gang members.
Bob Filner is a longtime supporter of those on the lower socio-economic end of society and they are loyal to him. To that degree he is more in touch with the international indigenous ethos that silently guides San Diego.
From the Kumeyaay and other Indian communities that surround San Diego to our friends south of the international border of Mexico, Filner has personally and diplomatically embraced. His political resume reflects a comfort with the world, contrary to. many of his detractors who are fearful of leaving their zip code.
He is an excellent ambassador for the World Finest City.
Many who are supportive of the mayor are muted by ambivalence because they feel trapped into being an apologist for sexual harassment.
Sexism in the office place is not a new phenomena and can be corrected as Bob Filner has indicated his willingness to do.
Civic students and observers are examining this unique political climate which has left our citizenry flummoxed and wondering if this unprecedented scenario has been orchestrated.

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avatar Phil Lawrence July 26, 2013 at 9:59 am

What’s happening? We get a mayor who supports our policy views and we support him regardless. Is the U-T out to get Filner? Yes, but that doesn’t mean he’s not a molester who needs to step down for the good of his constituents. As a father, husband, brother and son, I now despise the man I supported for mayor a few short months ago. He is clearly unfit to lead us.

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avatar judi curry July 26, 2013 at 10:21 am

Molester? Pretty strong words and never brought up.

Harasser – yes.

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avatar Phil Lawrence July 26, 2013 at 11:17 am

Molester is 100% accurate based on what he’s been accused of. From Merriam Webster:

1: to annoy, disturb, or persecute especially with hostile intent or injurious effect
2: to make annoying sexual advances to

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avatar Seth July 26, 2013 at 12:03 pm

This latest wave of women coming forward today should pretty much end it for Filner (although I type this as he is apparently about to take a leave of absence for therapy). Too many credible women of high standing painting too bad a picture. Due process for legal proceedings? That’s great. For remaining Mayor? Whatever.

There’s no need to apologize for the guy or to minimize his creepy behavior by shifting blame onto his accusers, Republicans or the media. He has to go. Like, right now.

Progressives need not sacrifice their principles to defend this simply because they fear going back into the political hinterlands for another 20 years. San Diego is becoming more Democratic every single day, and that is where things are headed. My unsolicited advice for them would be to bury this guy in the past where he belongs, and where the good ol boys that have run this city will be soon, and to find a credible Latino candidate to rally behind.

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avatar Frank Gormlie July 26, 2013 at 12:44 pm

Seth, okay, and who would that be? Todd Gloria? Not a progressive – he’s ready to hand Balboa Park over to the developers. There is not genuine Democrat progressive in San Diego’s landscape – except Donna Frye – and she ain’t running (or so she said a couple of weeks ago – maybe she’ll change her mind …).

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avatar Seth July 26, 2013 at 1:36 pm

Frank, fair enough. The SD landscape is pretty barren across all political persuasions, IMO. But, also IMO, it would behoove SD Democrats to figure it out and start cultivating Latino candidates in earnest. Quite possibly going to be the key to power over the next 40 years or so.

In the meantime, Filner has become a liability.

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avatar Kirk July 28, 2013 at 7:02 pm

Judi

Comparing the women who have come forward with vindictive 6th graders is offensive and as egregious an example of rationalizing as I can imagine.

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avatar judi curry July 29, 2013 at 12:29 pm

Guess you don’t have much of an imagination then.

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avatar Kirk August 2, 2013 at 9:07 am

Dodging the point Judi.

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avatar Pfaff July 29, 2013 at 4:18 pm

Nearly every “name” personality, conservative or liberal, Democrat or Republican, local or national, has asked City of San Diego Mayor Filner to resign because it is politically expedient or popular to do so. However, there is also a very high percentage of faceless or nameless people such as ourselves, who strongly believe in:

1. Due Process – The right of an individual facing criminal allegations to face his or her
accuser in a court of law by a jury of his or her peers.

2. The hidden presence of the “Lynch Mob” including Papa Doug and his Manchester
Mess

3. Why would Gloria Allred (she always wears red) make a statement, and I am
paraphrasing, ” . . . . . .If Mayor Filner resigns, we may decide to drop our lawsuit.”
How and why would a lawsuit filed by Gloria Allred seeking monetary damages on
behalf of Irene McCormack-Jackson be tied to the resignation of City of San Diego
Mayor Bob Filner?

4. The answer to the above may explain why four or more “officers of the court,”
Allred, Briggs, Gonzales and Pallamary to name a few, are “proceeding” with this
matter.

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