It was a shocking day in a so far shocking month of developments in this saga. The mayor’s chief of staff, Lee Burdick confirmed that San Diego Mayor Bob Filner had returned a week earlier than expected from his intensive behavioral therapy.
And in a strikingly harsh statement, Councilwomen Marti Emerald and Myrtle Cole did an about face on their support for the mayor, relaying in a statement that they had received disturbing new evidence of his actions.
“Now, additional women in his own office are telling investigators about harassment and abuse they suffered on a daily basis. Based upon the ongoing disclosure of evidence Mayor Filner’s conduct is reprehensible and cannot be excused,” Cole and Emerald wrote in the joint statement.
It is unclear what investigators they’re referring to or why the members of City Council might have access to their findings.
Burdick told me in a text message that the mayor was indeed back.
“The mayor completed his two-week treatment plan today. That is a private health matter and I won’t comment further,” she wrote.
This was contradicted later when Filner’s lawyers released a statement saying he will actually complete his two-week treatment Saturday.
“Mayor Filner is planning to continue therapy sessions on an outpatient basis. Mayor Filner is taking personal time next week and will be unavailable for comment,” wrote James Payne, Filner’s lawyer.
This would imply he started the plan early despite telling a nationwide audience in late July that he would begin the plan Aug. 5 and be back Aug. 19.
And yet, that was not all. Also Friday, U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer released a sharply worded open letter to Filner.
“Let me be clear: The latest revelations regarding your behavior toward women recovering from sexual assault – women who desperately need our help – have shaken me to my core,” Boxer said.
Cole and Emerald’s joint statement means the City Council has now unanimously called on the mayor to resign.
It marks almost complete political isolation for Filner — the Democratic Party, elected leaders from the city, the state and up the chain to California’s U.S. senators.
Filner last week called ally Bob Nelson asking whether Nelson thought he could withstand a recall vote. Nelson said he could not. Nelson later in the week advised the mayor to step down.
Whether a recall qualifies for the ballot is still an open question. But this week, the campaign to do that went from shoddy disorganization to professional, with well-known consultants signing on.
Before Friday, it was very difficult to picture how the mayor survived or recovered as a city leader. It’s impossible now.
The fact is that I had the locks changed to protect the Mayor while he is away. My concern is/was that if anything was removed while the Mayor was away, it could raise all kinds of questions about preservation or spoliation of potential evidence.Because I could not possibly determine everyone who had keys, I believed it was necessary to ensure the integrity of his physical office in his absence.The Mayor will be given the keys upon his return.Hope that helps.