The way Mayor Bob Filner sees it, City Attorney Jan Goldsmith started the fight.

The city attorney called a last-minute press conference on Wednesday to respond to the mayor’s call for a new tourism marketing deal. (For background on how the hotel fee hike works, check out this video.)

Filner showed up at the gathering to criticize Goldsmith for updating the media ahead of the mayor and City Council.

Here are the four most awkward and outrageous moments from the press conference.

1. Enter Filner

Reporters started questioning Goldsmith about his legal interpretations, which largely came out against Filner. One reporter asked whether the mayor had been notified of these opinions.

That’s when the mayor piped in.

“The answer is no.”

He took the city attorney’s podium after Goldsmith stepped away.

Filner blasted Goldsmith for failing to notify the Mayor’s Office and the council of his opinions before sharing them with the press.

“You not only have been unprofessional but unethical in this press conference, and I resent it greatly that you’re giving your advice through the press,” Filner said. “This advice is to me. This advice is to the City Council and besides, the advice is wrong and trivial.”

2. ‘Are you an attorney?’

At some point, the mayor noticed a woman shaking her head in the back of the room. She turned out to be Carmen Sandoval, the city attorney’s executive assistant.

Filner: “Who’s the lady at the door? Is that your press person or who?”

Sandoval: “Mr. Goldsmith’s assistant.”

Filner: “Are you an attorney? Are you an attorney? Are you an attorney?”

Goldsmith: “Bob, Bob … “

Filner: “Ma’am, are you an attorney? Are you an attorney? Well, you keep commenting on what I’m saying when I say something’s illegal. We’ve got not only the city attorney’s assistant giving the advice but … “

3. Sharing the bully pulpit

Photo by Lisa Halverstadt
City Attorney Jan Goldsmith steps away from the podium to allow Mayor Bob Filner to speak at an explosive Feb. 20 press conference at the city attorney’s office.

 

Goldsmith felt the need to respond. It was his press conference, after all, so he returned to the podium.

“I hope in the future we’ll know about these issues and get consulted in advance but if I read them in the newspaper and they’re wrong, I have to comment on them,” he said.

“I have no obligation to inform you of any policy decisions I make,” Filner shot back.

Goldsmith emphasized that he serves the city and is an “independent, elected office holder.”

“Mike Aguirre,” Filner mumbled to himself, referring to the combative former city attorney who was often antagonistic toward the mayor and City Council.

Moments later, Filner took the podium again. He wanted to repeat his points “for the cameras.”

It’s worth noting that both men stepped up to the podium multiple times to share their messages. It was a press conference, after all.

4. The sendoff

After Filner wrapped up, Goldsmith thanked reporters for attending.

“I disagree with whatever he said. We used to have a city attorney who wanted to be mayor, now we have a mayor who wants to be city attorney,” Goldsmith said as reporters began leaving.

A few moments later, Goldsmith dismissed questions about a feud with the mayor.

“I’m one of the people in San Diego who actually likes (Filner),” Goldsmith said.

Lisa Halverstadt is a reporter at Voice of San Diego. Know of something she should check out? You can contact her directly at lisa.halverstadt@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.325.0528.

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    Written by Lisa Halverstadt

    Lisa Halverstadt is a reporter at Voice of San Diego. Know of something she should check out? You can contact her directly at lisa@vosd.org or 619.325.0528.

    52 comments
    David Cohen
    David Cohen subscriber

    He does not take direction from "the voters." He is no longer a judge and no more "judicial" than the Federal Solicitor General or Attorney General is, both members of the Executive Branch.

    fryefan
    fryefan

    He does not take direction from "the voters." He is no longer a judge and no more "judicial" than the Federal Solicitor General or Attorney General is, both members of the Executive Branch.

    Jim Jones
    Jim Jones subscriber

    I'm not a fan of Goldsmith, but if he wants to have a press conference he doesn't need the mayors permission, nor is he answerable to the Mayor, and as shoddy as some of goldsmiths opinions seem to be to me, he also seems to be a lot better at thinking withing the goalposts set by the law than Filner, who seems to get a end goal from the unions, then works to justify with often nonsensical logic.

    Jim Jones
    Jim Jones

    I'm not a fan of Goldsmith, but if he wants to have a press conference he doesn't need the mayors permission, nor is he answerable to the Mayor, and as shoddy as some of goldsmiths opinions seem to be to me, he also seems to be a lot better at thinking withing the goalposts set by the law than Filner, who seems to get a end goal from the unions, then works to justify with often nonsensical logic.

    Jose Martinez
    Jose Martinez subscriber

    As a lifelong student of politics, I think the bottom line is that the City Attorney is subordinate to the Mayor (and the City Council). For Goldsmith to be positing a position on public policy without a request for an opinion is out of line.

    Jose Martinez SD TJ
    Jose Martinez SD TJ

    As a lifelong student of politics, I think the bottom line is that the City Attorney is subordinate to the Mayor (and the City Council). For Goldsmith to be positing a position on public policy without a request for an opinion is out of line.

    Don Wood
    Don Wood subscriber

    portrayed the mayor as rudely barging onto the state when the video shows that was not the case.

    Don Wood
    Don Wood

    portrayed the mayor as rudely barging onto the state when the video shows that was not the case.

    April Boling
    April Boling subscriber

    Also agree with Goldsmith's case requiring the Retirement Board to comply with the Charter and charge the employees and the taxpayers equal amounts for the cost of the pension. This point was originally raised by the Pension Reform Committee way back in 2004 and is finally going to get cleared up...ten years (and how many millions of dollars?) later. Would be good if all the players would simply come to an agreement on implementation and stop the hemmorhaging of legal fees....but then, that wouldn't be in the best interest of all of those appointed attorneys.

    AprilBoling
    AprilBoling

    Also agree with Goldsmith's case requiring the Retirement Board to comply with the Charter and charge the employees and the taxpayers equal amounts for the cost of the pension. This point was originally raised by the Pension Reform Committee way back in 2004 and is finally going to get cleared up...ten years (and how many millions of dollars?) later. Would be good if all the players would simply come to an agreement on implementation and stop the hemmorhaging of legal fees....but then, that wouldn't be in the best interest of all of those appointed attorneys.

    Scott Davis
    Scott Davis subscriber

    I liked Mike Aguirre and I say go Filner. He is a passionate person and seems to be in it because he actually cares. He's better than the alternative. Fire was warrented, in my opinion. It is office politics...it's just a shame he had to waste some of that fire on Goldsmith.

    Scott Davis
    Scott Davis

    I liked Mike Aguirre and I say go Filner. He is a passionate person and seems to be in it because he actually cares. He's better than the alternative. Fire was warrented, in my opinion. It is office politics...it's just a shame he had to waste some of that fire on Goldsmith.

    Allen Carter
    Allen Carter subscriber

    The "most awkward" thing about this press conference is that it should not have taken place. Goldsmith was completely unprofessional and out of line.

    alnc
    alnc

    The "most awkward" thing about this press conference is that it should not have taken place. Goldsmith was completely unprofessional and out of line.

    Allen Hemphill
    Allen Hemphill subscribermember

    The voters knew about Filners irrational behavior before they voted, and now must accept the results of their vote: Chaos.

    Akamai
    Akamai

    The voters knew about Filners irrational behavior before they voted, and now must accept the results of their vote: Chaos.

    Augmented Ballot
    Augmented Ballot subscriber

    Sort of. It's a reminder to the hoteliers that they could end up with nothing. Better to deal with the mayor and have him as an ally.

    Augmented Ballot
    Augmented Ballot

    Sort of. It's a reminder to the hoteliers that they could end up with nothing. Better to deal with the mayor and have him as an ally.

    James Weber
    James Weber subscriber

    What is the cause of Filner's irrational behavior? Could he have a chemical imbalance or, heaven forbid, a brain tumor? Perhaps it is a desperate call for help.

    maxx
    maxx

    What is the cause of Filner's irrational behavior? Could he have a chemical imbalance or, heaven forbid, a brain tumor? Perhaps it is a desperate call for help.

    Don Wood
    Don Wood subscriber

    Not sure the city attorney can be trusted to provide unbiased legal advice on this tax extension. He seems to have twisted logic into circles trying to justify if so far. But he did opine that the courts might not approve a tax extension without a vote of the public per Prop 26. As Scott Lewis has discovered local hotels list the TMD "surcharge" as a tax on customers bills. We should know in a few weeks if the judge hearing this case is truly unbiased.

    Don Wood
    Don Wood

    Not sure the city attorney can be trusted to provide unbiased legal advice on this tax extension. He seems to have twisted logic into circles trying to justify if so far. But he did opine that the courts might not approve a tax extension without a vote of the public per Prop 26. As Scott Lewis has discovered local hotels list the TMD "surcharge" as a tax on customers bills. We should know in a few weeks if the judge hearing this case is truly unbiased.

    Mark Giffin
    Mark Giffin subscribermember

    Common mistake about who the city attorney represents. Collosal mistake when the city attorney does it.

    mgland
    mgland

    Common mistake about who the city attorney represents. Collosal mistake when the city attorney does it.

    Bill Bradshaw
    Bill Bradshaw subscribermember

    Filner has already discovered that his predecessor's "surplus" was, as everyone already knew, a mirage, and we face the same old, same old. He is adding to the deficit with this ploy, not to mention his delay in implementing managed competition. This stunt with the hotel owners may be packaged by the mayor as an honest reaction to the length of the extension of an agreement made in 2007, or to the full 2% add-on continuing to go to promote tourism, but don't you think his stated intent to force the hotel owners to raise wages shows his true motive, to reassure labor he's their guy.

    toulon
    toulon

    Filner has already discovered that his predecessor's "surplus" was, as everyone already knew, a mirage, and we face the same old, same old. He is adding to the deficit with this ploy, not to mention his delay in implementing managed competition. This stunt with the hotel owners may be packaged by the mayor as an honest reaction to the length of the extension of an agreement made in 2007, or to the full 2% add-on continuing to go to promote tourism, but don't you think his stated intent to force the hotel owners to raise wages shows his true motive, to reassure labor he's their guy.

    Andy Kopp
    Andy Kopp subscribermember

    Somebody correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't Mr. Goldsmith's analysis that the "fee" is legal in fact the only leverage the Mayor has over the TMD to get more city revenue because that analysis maintains the decision for final signature and implementation as the Mayor's alone. That's his own bargaining power the Mayor is trying to talk himself out of!

    Andy Kopp
    Andy Kopp

    Somebody correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't Mr. Goldsmith's analysis that the "fee" is legal in fact the only leverage the Mayor has over the TMD to get more city revenue because that analysis maintains the decision for final signature and implementation as the Mayor's alone. That's his own bargaining power the Mayor is trying to talk himself out of!

    David Cohen
    David Cohen subscriber

    I would contribute to a recall effort, if such is permitted

    fryefan
    fryefan

    I would contribute to a recall effort, if such is permitted

    Jim Jones
    Jim Jones subscriber

    OK, which union leader pulled Bob's string again?

    Jim Jones
    Jim Jones

    OK, which union leader pulled Bob's string again?

    Katherine Lopez
    Katherine Lopez subscriber

    Agree with this analysis. I think it's inevitable that conflicts like this emerge whenever the City Attorney is politically ambitious, and he and the Mayor are from different parties, unless the City Attorney is either extraordinarily diplomatic and/or extremely devious. Is it good for the city of San Diego? No one seems to care about that question, and I doubt anyone can answer it.

    Katherine Lopez
    Katherine Lopez

    Agree with this analysis. I think it's inevitable that conflicts like this emerge whenever the City Attorney is politically ambitious, and he and the Mayor are from different parties, unless the City Attorney is either extraordinarily diplomatic and/or extremely devious. Is it good for the city of San Diego? No one seems to care about that question, and I doubt anyone can answer it.

    Steven Dobbs
    Steven Dobbs subscriber

    Hmmm....Did we not see this coming from an historically (read: hysterical), unstable personality? What an embarrassment that the citizens ofl this city did not heed the warnings. Todd Gloria, 2016!

    StevieD
    StevieD

    Hmmm....Did we not see this coming from an historically (read: hysterical), unstable personality? What an embarrassment that the citizens ofl this city did not heed the warnings. Todd Gloria, 2016!

    Mark Giffin
    Mark Giffin subscribermember

    VOSD should have a constant stream of material no doubt.

    mgland
    mgland

    VOSD should have a constant stream of material no doubt.

    Akamai
    Akamai

    It comes to pass daily.

    Chris Brewster
    Chris Brewster subscribermember

    Mr. Goldsmith’s hypocrisy is emerging most evidently.

    Dennis
    Dennis subscriber

    The Good Old Boys must be seething with Filner as Mayor. Way to go Bob!!!

    Dennis Michael
    Dennis Michael

    The Good Old Boys must be seething with Filner as Mayor. Way to go Bob!!!


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