Three high-profile Democrats who’ve long been among Mayor Bob Filner’s allies urged him to resign Thursday. Two of those requests, made by former Councilwoman Donna Frye and attorney Marco Gonzalez, were clearly tied to allegations – neither provided any specifics – that Filner mistreated female employees. Both made passionate pleas and focused on the harm done to the women involved.

Frye, tearing up, spoke about her obligation to help the women who’d confided in her. Gonzalez used fiery rhetoric that reached a crescendo when he quoted Dante.

Then there was Cory Briggs.

Briggs, an environmental attorney and open-government advocate, joined the call, but with a different charge entirely.


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His letter Wednesday calling for Filner’s resignation spoke to open and responsible government. It came on the same day he filed a legal complaint against the city and Sunroad Enterprises over an approved change to a development project in Kearny Mesa.

Indeed, Briggs brought up Sunroad during the press conference, veering off the course Frye and Gonzalez had set by focusing on instances of Filner’s misbehavior toward women. Briggs said he became increasingly convinced it was time for the mayor to go as he researched and learned more about the way the Sunroad deal went down.

Briggs says there’s a thread tying those seemingly different complaints together: an abuse of power relationships, whether it’s extorting money from a developer or taking advantage of female staff members.

“Let’s face it, there were a shitload of people here today because it was about sex,” Briggs said. “And everybody ought to be ashamed and disgusted that that’s why there was such a crowd here. The overwhelming majority of questions were, what did he do, how many times, how many women, but the root problem is an abuse of a power relationship.”

But Briggs also muddied the message Thursday by placing blame beyond the mayor’s office: He said he’s been disappointed by media scrutiny of the Sunroad deal that has focused too much on the mayor’s office and let the City Council off the hook.

“The problem of corruption at City Hall is systemic,” he said, reminding the press that eight Council members voted unanimously to grant Sunroad its requested easement of city parkland.

Whereas Frye and Gonzalez want Filner to step down because of specific instances they say they’ve learned of, Briggs’ message is different: Filner isn’t any different than the mayors who preceded him, and he and the current City Council have continued to direct a corrupt city, despite hopes that he’d be different. He isn’t different, so he needs to resign.

That’s a hard claim to make stick on its own. Many people are disappointed in many politicians for all kinds of reasons. They don’t all justify a call for resignation.

Update: Briggs took exception to the idea that he doesn’t see a difference between Filner and previous mayors. He said the sexual harassment allegations take Filner’s behavior beyond that of his predecessors.

He wrote: “Andrew: Your representation of my comments to you a few moments ago is inaccurate. I did say that City Hall is corrupt and that more than the mayor need to go. I did not say that this mayor is no different from his predecessors. I know about no sexual improprieties involving his predecessors, which I cannot say about the mayor. Corruption is bad and in my view is a firing offense. Corruption PLUS abuse of women/sexual harassment is also a firing offense, with a “slightly” greater sense of urgency.”

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    This article relates to: Bob Filner, Government, News, Share

    Written by Andrew Keatts

    I'm Andrew Keatts, a reporter for Voice of San Diego. Please contact me if you'd like at andrew.keatts@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.325.0529.

    20 comments
    Marti E Kranzberg
    Marti E Kranzberg

    Integrity is Integrity and if these three Crusaders want to champion it together - great! Here's to the 4th Estate - now let's hope the members of that "branch" will do their job with such a high standard of Integrity.

    Chris Klich
    Chris Klich

    Speaking of the the fourth estate, I'm grateful that we have VOSD and KPBS to report fairly and accurately. (I support both organizations with a monthly recurring donation, which I urge all folks to do.) The U.-T. and KUSI are having a field day with this, as I would have predicted. The other media outlets are only concerned with the the most salacious aspects. I doubt any of them would even use the word "integrity" in their coverage, because sex sells while integrity does not.

    Marti E Kranzberg
    Marti E Kranzberg subscriber

    Integrity is Integrity and if these three Crusaders want to champion it together - great! Here's to the 4th Estate - now let's hope the members of that "branch" will do their job with such a high standard of Integrity.

    Chris Klich
    Chris Klich subscriber

    Speaking of the the fourth estate, I'm grateful that we have VOSD and KPBS to report fairly and accurately. (I support both organizations with a monthly recurring donation, which I urge all folks to do.) The U.-T. and KUSI are having a field day with this, as I would have predicted. The other media outlets are only concerned with the the most salacious aspects. I doubt any of them would even use the word "integrity" in their coverage, because sex sells while integrity does not.

    Chris Brewster
    Chris Brewster

    Whether Mr. Briggs’ concerns are consistent with those of Ms. Frye and Mr. Gonzalez is rather immaterial in my view. Ms. Frye and Mr. Gonzalez apparently chose willingly to appear with Mr. Briggs, so for whatever reason, they considered it appropriate that his issues be aired contemporaneously. That said, the media has, indeed, failed to focus on the big picture in this Sunroad situation. As has been lightly reported (and defectively fact checked by VOSD in my view), Sunroad sought an encroachment on city parkland. A proposal to waive city policy and grant this was rushed through a city council committee at the behest of Councilmember Zapf and ultimately approved unanimously by the city council without any staff report being provided regarding the implications. This is very unusual to say the least. There is no question that Mr. Filner handled his part of this issue poorly and in a way that he himself later disavowed. Whether that was legal, illegal, or dumb is an issue worthy of discussion, but what seems to have been lost in all this is that the council unanimously rushed through a gift of city property for Sunroad, a company with a tawdry history in this town. The former mayor made clear that he thought very poorly of them. Mr. Briggs’ point is worthy of sincere consideration, especially by the media, which has seemed to be distracted by the Filner aspect of the issue. Dig deeper.

    Chris Brewster
    Chris Brewster subscribermember

    Whether Mr. Briggs’ concerns are consistent with those of Ms. Frye and Mr. Gonzalez is rather immaterial in my view. Ms. Frye and Mr. Gonzalez apparently chose willingly to appear with Mr. Briggs, so for whatever reason, they considered it appropriate that his issues be aired contemporaneously. That said, the media has, indeed, failed to focus on the big picture in this Sunroad situation. As has been lightly reported (and defectively fact checked by VOSD in my view), Sunroad sought an encroachment on city parkland. A proposal to waive city policy and grant this was rushed through a city council committee at the behest of Councilmember Zapf and ultimately approved unanimously by the city council without any staff report being provided regarding the implications. This is very unusual to say the least. There is no question that Mr. Filner handled his part of this issue poorly and in a way that he himself later disavowed. Whether that was legal, illegal, or dumb is an issue worthy of discussion, but what seems to have been lost in all this is that the council unanimously rushed through a gift of city property for Sunroad, a company with a tawdry history in this town. The former mayor made clear that he thought very poorly of them. Mr. Briggs’ point is worthy of sincere consideration, especially by the media, which has seemed to be distracted by the Filner aspect of the issue. Dig deeper.

    La Playa Heritage
    La Playa Heritage

    http://tinyurl.com/20101206 Back in 2010, we recommended that Sunroad’s Substantial Conformance Review (SCR) for Kearny Mesa be denied for ongoing violations of the Municipal Code, New Century Master Plan, Community Plan, and associated EIR and CEQA documents. The height limit in all Kearny Mesa is still 3 stories or 45 feet, not the 4 to 5 stories for the new luxury condos. The increase in heights and density for the condos, the existing once too high Sunroad building, and the planned multiple story highrise towers and parking structure have never been analyzed. Instead it was easier to just approve and forget about the ongoing violations.

    La Playa Heritage
    La Playa Heritage subscribermember

    http://tinyurl.com/20101206 Back in 2010, we recommended that Sunroad’s Substantial Conformance Review (SCR) for Kearny Mesa be denied for ongoing violations of the Municipal Code, New Century Master Plan, Community Plan, and associated EIR and CEQA documents. The height limit in all Kearny Mesa is still 3 stories or 45 feet, not the 4 to 5 stories for the new luxury condos. The increase in heights and density for the condos, the existing once too high Sunroad building, and the planned multiple story highrise towers and parking structure have never been analyzed. Instead it was easier to just approve and forget about the ongoing violations.

    Fred Williams
    Fred Williams

    Andrew, go back to journalism school. Cory Briggs is trying to bring a real, serious, important, and very public issue into discussion. And...the drooling journalist pack just wants to hear about the naughty bits. Like junior highschoolers, they flock around, squacking about rumors and innuendo. Briggs has evidence. Briggs has a real story that deserves attention. Yet where are the journalistic resources directed? SEX! Cory Briggs (and Donna Frye) rightly point out (as if the media would listen) that this shouldn't be a circus. Briggs additionally brings a serious issue to the table, that the same old corruption continues even under the new mayor. So will any journalists look away from the dancing bears, clowns, and flame jugglers to examine this experienced public interest lawyer's evidence? The way this story is written, with snarky asides, dismisses Cory Briggs as a side show. In fact, it was the most important information presented at the press conference. Andrew, the unprofessional, seems to have written this article as a show of having paid attention, so he can later claim he's covered the isssue. That's disingenuous, when it sure reads like he's already made up his mind to never look at the evidence, and join his fellow slackjaws in chasing the sensational circus.

    Fred Williams
    Fred Williams subscriber

    Andrew, go back to journalism school. Cory Briggs is trying to bring a real, serious, important, and very public issue into discussion. And...the drooling journalist pack just wants to hear about the naughty bits. Like junior highschoolers, they flock around, squacking about rumors and innuendo. Briggs has evidence. Briggs has a real story that deserves attention. Yet where are the journalistic resources directed? SEX! Cory Briggs (and Donna Frye) rightly point out (as if the media would listen) that this shouldn't be a circus. Briggs additionally brings a serious issue to the table, that the same old corruption continues even under the new mayor. So will any journalists look away from the dancing bears, clowns, and flame jugglers to examine this experienced public interest lawyer's evidence? The way this story is written, with snarky asides, dismisses Cory Briggs as a side show. In fact, it was the most important information presented at the press conference. Andrew, the unprofessional, seems to have written this article as a show of having paid attention, so he can later claim he's covered the isssue. That's disingenuous, when it sure reads like he's already made up his mind to never look at the evidence, and join his fellow slackjaws in chasing the sensational circus.

    Cory Briggs
    Cory Briggs

    Andrew: Your representation of my comments to you a few moments ago is inaccurate. I did say that City Hall is corrupt and that more than the mayor need to go. I did not say that this mayor is no different from his predecessors. I know about no sexual improprieties involving his predecessors, which I cannot say about the mayor. Corruption is bad and in my view is a firing offense. Corruption PLUS abuse of women/sexual harassment is also a firing offense, with a "slightly" greater sense of urgency.

    Carrie Schneider
    Carrie Schneider

    So, I'd like to see some analysis of what is likely to happen if Filner resigns. Will the next City Hall more or less likely to continue to steamroll development that is at odds with community plans. what is the Democrat's succession plan?

    Fred Williams
    Fred Williams

    don lindsay, maybe you should give more of a sh** about the corruption Briggs is talking about than the vocabulary he deploys to describe it. Personally, as a military veteran, and someone who has listened to rap music and seen R rated movies (and survived!) I'm rather more offended by the stench of corruption, the effluent flowing through the corridors of power, than a bit of salty language.

    Andrew Keatts
    Andrew Keatts

    Hey Cory, I've updated the story to include your comment, so it clearly shows you find the sexual harassment allegations take Filner's behavior beyond that of previous mayors.

    don lindsay
    don lindsay

    and that you don't mind using vulgar obscenities (sh**load) in public statements. Rather a moronic double standard isn't it? Oh I forgot, you're a liberal.

    Cory Briggs
    Cory Briggs subscribermember

    Andrew: Your representation of my comments to you a few moments ago is inaccurate. I did say that City Hall is corrupt and that more than the mayor need to go. I did not say that this mayor is no different from his predecessors. I know about no sexual improprieties involving his predecessors, which I cannot say about the mayor. Corruption is bad and in my view is a firing offense. Corruption PLUS abuse of women/sexual harassment is also a firing offense, with a "slightly" greater sense of urgency.

    don lindsay
    don lindsay subscriber

    and that you don't mind using vulgar obscenities (sh**load) in public statements. Rather a moronic double standard isn't it? Oh I forgot, you're a liberal.

    Carrie Schneider
    Carrie Schneider subscribermember

    So, I'd like to see some analysis of what is likely to happen if Filner resigns. Will the next City Hall more or less likely to continue to steamroll development that is at odds with community plans. what is the Democrat's succession plan?

    Andrew Keatts
    Andrew Keatts author

    Hey Cory, I've updated the story to include your comment, so it clearly shows you find the sexual harassment allegations take Filner's behavior beyond that of previous mayors.

    Fred Williams
    Fred Williams subscriber

    don lindsay, maybe you should give more of a sh** about the corruption Briggs is talking about than the vocabulary he deploys to describe it. Personally, as a military veteran, and someone who has listened to rap music and seen R rated movies (and survived!) I'm rather more offended by the stench of corruption, the effluent flowing through the corridors of power, than a bit of salty language.