San Diego mayor continues descent into psycho-bully self-parody

June 22, 2013

By Chris Reed

When CalWatchdog last weighed in on San Diego Mayor Bob Filner, it was to point out the hagiographic qualities of an often-fawning L.A. Times profile of the chronic bully and then to detail a subsequent scandal that showed the former 20-year Democratic congressman simply believed he was above the law — that, to paraphrase Richard Nixon, if a mayor wanted to do something, then it was therefore legal.

Bob_Filner_-_Freedom_Rider_t658But the hair-trigger anger that has gotten Filner into trouble over and over again in his years in the public eye now threatens a core element of his personal/political narrative: his heroism as a Freedom Rider in the early 1960s South.

A civil-rights hero who vilifies black official

It seems the mayor doesn’t care for one of the highest-ranking African-Americans at San Diego City Hall: Andrew Jones, the number two man in the City Attorney’s Office. As detailed by Scott Lewis of the Voice of San Diego, Filner went out of his way to humiliate Jones — again — this week, part of his worst week in his six months as mayor. The U-T San Diego has the specifics:

“San Diego Mayor Bob Filner used his tax-funded bodyguard to remove the No. 2 official in the City Attorney’s Office from a closed meeting this week, a move which the City Council president witnessed and called ‘wrong’ and another council member described as ‘inexcusable behavior.’

“The mayor appeared to zero in on City Attorney Jan Goldsmith’s lieutenant, Andrew Jones, soon after Filner arrived late to the meeting, where several lawsuits the city is involved in were to be discussed.

“’What is Mr. Jones doing up here?’ Filner asked.”

Using police to block an African-American’s rightful civic participation

“Filner repeatedly cut off Jones in the meeting, accusing him of leaking confidential information from previous closed sessions, according to a transcript of the public portions of Tuesday’s closed meeting obtained using the California Public Records Act.

“Ultimately, Filner used his police detail to force Jones’ removal. ‘Mr. Sergeant, please remove this gentleman,’ Filner said.

“Jones said he has never leaked confidential information and was at the meeting to act as City Attorney Jan Goldsmith’s surrogate, assuring the city officials present were following the law. Goldsmith was not at the meeting.

“When Jones attempted to ask a question, according to the transcript, Filner said, ‘I will have you removed if you don’t sit down.’

“Jones replied, ‘You can try.’

“Filner then left the room and returned with police, the transcript indicates.

“’There’s no discussion, Mr. Jones,’ Filner said. ‘Will the sergeants please remove him? He’s disruptive of this meeting.’

“Jones left the meeting after being told to do so by a police officer. …

“’I was shocked. It was baffling to me,’ [Jones said]. ‘For him to remove me, wow, to treat me like that. If you read the transcripts, you can see I was just trying to get a question answered.'”

A mayor who won’t listen to anyone

The problem for my fellow San Diegans is that Filner is not a headstrong young pol who might see the light if he got a talking-to by a senior mentor. He’s a 70-year-old bully who has gotten away with his horrible behavior for years, one who thinks that he’s always right and so his ends justify his means.

So does he ever change? Nope. But we could soon see a series of “have you no shame?” moments where politicians of his own party, starting with San Diego City Council President Todd Gloria, call him out. Filner is that obnoxious.

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