Mayoral candidate Bob Filner said Wednesday he’d support philanthropist Irwin Jacobs’ $45 million remodel of Balboa Park, ending his high-profile opposition to the project. Filner’s campaign sent a response to questions we asked about his position, saying:

1. In retrospect, I wish the tenor of objections raised at that hearing had been different – less personal.

2. It is not the plan I would have proposed, but it has now been adopted by the City Council.


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3. Part of my job as Mayor will be to implement the policies adopted by the City Council, and I will do that.

Last month, Filner headlined a rally against the plan before the City Council voted to approve it. During the council hearing, Filner questioned the project’s financing by wondering what would happen if Jacobs died. The candidate brought up an impersonator of Balboa Park maven Kate Sessions to amplify his argument that the proposal would damage the park’s historical character.

Filner’s Balboa Park change continues a theme we’ve seen with him since the primary. Filner now says he supports Proposition B, the pension initiative he called a “fraud” before voters approved it in June. (Though, it’s still unclear exactly what he wants to do with pensions.) He also backs the proposed $550 million Convention Center expansion’s financing plan, assuming a court signs off on it. Previously, he compared the deal to the city’s pension fiasco and the Chargers ticket guarantee.

All of these reversals fall under the heading of Filner saying he’ll abide by the will of the voters and City Council, even if he opposed the idea in the past. And it’s an effort to show that he’s softening some of his rougher edges, trying to look more like the even-tempered mayors San Diego is used to electing.

On Monday, Filner expressed regret about how he had handled the Jacobs plan during an interview with me about an unrelated subject. He said he didn’t behave the way someone running for an executive position should.

“I think I would have done it differently on Balboa Park, by the way … ” Filner said. “That is, I can be against the issue without say taking on Irwin. I’ve learned that.”

“Running for an executive position is much different that running for a legislative position,” he continued. “I hadn’t internalized that to the extent that I should have. I’ll put that. It’s a different level of learning, I will say. That is, running for Congress or the City Council, that (City Council) speech would have worked. Running for mayor it may not have, you know? People expect different things. You’re trying to stress different things. You’re trying to show a different kind of leadership. People are judging you differently. That I think I’ve begun to internalize.”

Update: Our original headline and intro emphasized that Filner had flipped or reversed on Balboa Park. After some reflection, we decided that wasn’t the best way to characterize his statement. So we’ve updated the headline and intro and fourth paragraph.

Kelly Bennett contributed reporting.

Disclosure: Irwin Jacobs is a major supporter of Voice of San Diego.

Liam Dillon is a news reporter for Voice of San Diego. He covers San Diego City Hall, the 2012 mayor’s race and big building projects. What should he write about next?

Please contact him directly at liam.dillon@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.550.5663.

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    This article relates to: Balboa Park, Election, Government, Mayor 2012, News, Parks

    Written by Liam Dillon

    Liam Dillon is senior reporter and assistant editor for Voice of San Diego. He leads VOSD’s investigations and writes about how regular people interact with local government. What should he write about next? Please contact him directly at liam.dillon@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.550.5663.

    66 comments
    Richard Ross
    Richard Ross subscribermember

    Hiker confuses the proposed Balboa Park's Jacobs' Plan's historical destruction and fiscal irresponsibility with Renewal.

    Activist
    Activist

    Hiker confuses the proposed Balboa Park's Jacobs' Plan's historical destruction and fiscal irresponsibility with Renewal.

    Richard Ross
    Richard Ross subscribermember

    What is more humerous is reading shawn1874's comments especially regarding bond proposals. shawn1874 seems to forget their support for Jacobs' garage at Balboa park which will not be funded by Jacobs' but by a $18 million dollar public bond. That bond's revenue from the garage fees will likely fall short by $1 million according to the IBA's report.

    Activist
    Activist

    What is more humerous is reading shawn1874's comments especially regarding bond proposals. shawn1874 seems to forget their support for Jacobs' garage at Balboa park which will not be funded by Jacobs' but by a $18 million dollar public bond. That bond's revenue from the garage fees will likely fall short by $1 million according to the IBA's report.

    Janet Shelton
    Janet Shelton subscriber

    And knowing politicians, I have to wonder if this change has to do with Jacobs offering Filner finanacial support?

    myearth
    myearth

    And knowing politicians, I have to wonder if this change has to do with Jacobs offering Filner finanacial support?

    Janet Shelton
    Janet Shelton subscriber

    All that said, I am strongly opposed to the park plan, and perhaps because of that, I take more offense to the Voice portraying is as another mayoral candidate supports it. This makes it appear to have more support than it actually does.

    myearth
    myearth

    All that said, I am strongly opposed to the park plan, and perhaps because of that, I take more offense to the Voice portraying is as another mayoral candidate supports it. This makes it appear to have more support than it actually does.

    Eva Vargas
    Eva Vargas subscriber

    He admitted to thinking of the position he was running for is different then the position he's run in the past. He made a mistake, admitted to it. He didn't flip-flop he's acquiesced to the city council; what is so wrong about that attitude. He's not one to keep trying to hold on to something an idea that's not working, he's moving on. Get into the solution, and leave the problem to people who like to complain. AND let's get real, were you ever going to vote for him, something tells me it is NO. I value his leadership abilities, work ethic, and experience. What do you value?

    evavrgs
    evavrgs

    He admitted to thinking of the position he was running for is different then the position he's run in the past. He made a mistake, admitted to it. He didn't flip-flop he's acquiesced to the city council; what is so wrong about that attitude. He's not one to keep trying to hold on to something an idea that's not working, he's moving on. Get into the solution, and leave the problem to people who like to complain. AND let's get real, were you ever going to vote for him, something tells me it is NO. I value his leadership abilities, work ethic, and experience. What do you value?

    David Cohen
    David Cohen subscriber

    There are lawsuits and most likeky will be court decisions, pro or con. The lawsuits will pursue grounds other than the garage, but IF the garage cannot charge for general parking use I doubt the bonds can be marketed. However, the garage will not be a primary legal issue.

    fryefan
    fryefan

    There are lawsuits and most likeky will be court decisions, pro or con. The lawsuits will pursue grounds other than the garage, but IF the garage cannot charge for general parking use I doubt the bonds can be marketed. However, the garage will not be a primary legal issue.

    Richard Gorin
    Richard Gorin subscriber

    Sorry, Bob. I was prepared to vote for you against my better instincts and interests solely to protect the park.

    jaguar943-one
    jaguar943-one

    Sorry, Bob. I was prepared to vote for you against my better instincts and interests solely to protect the park.

    Jerry Hughes
    Jerry Hughes subscriber

    Well, finally Mr. Filner has come to his senses. This Balboa Park renewal is way overdue.

    San Diego Hiker
    San Diego Hiker

    Well, finally Mr. Filner has come to his senses. This Balboa Park renewal is way overdue.

    Fred Williams
    Fred Williams subscriber

    Filner shines in comparison. He's lost his temper a lot, but I don't think he's lost his moral compass.

    Fred_Williams
    Fred_Williams

    Filner shines in comparison. He's lost his temper a lot, but I don't think he's lost his moral compass.

    Fred Williams
    Fred Williams subscriber

    The Mayor went out of his way to insult them publicly for daring to criticize his wealthy buddy. Voice and other outlets repeated those insults widely, while mostly ignoring the actual issues with this very shortsighted ego-driven plan.

    Fred_Williams
    Fred_Williams

    The Mayor went out of his way to insult them publicly for daring to criticize his wealthy buddy. Voice and other outlets repeated those insults widely, while mostly ignoring the actual issues with this very shortsighted ego-driven plan.

    Ken Fortier
    Ken Fortier subscriber

    Will somebody give Filner a job, any job, just so he'll go away? Wait..this would mean we get DeMaio. OMG, what a terrible set of choices for mayor of San Diego. It is a real shame that we couldn't do better than either one of these guys.

    senorken
    senorken

    Will somebody give Filner a job, any job, just so he'll go away? Wait..this would mean we get DeMaio. OMG, what a terrible set of choices for mayor of San Diego. It is a real shame that we couldn't do better than either one of these guys.

    shawn fox
    shawn fox subscriber

    It is quite humorous, especially since some Filner supporters decided that they will sit out of the election! That probably means less votes for the tax increases and bond proposals. My guess is that many of the bond proposals will be tied to existing property taxes that were raised previously for previous bond proposals. That is how temporary taxes essentially become permanent. They just keep convincing voters to buy more and more bonds, and the so called temporary tax increases have to be continued so that they can pay the new ones off.

    shawn1874
    shawn1874

    It is quite humorous, especially since some Filner supporters decided that they will sit out of the election! That probably means less votes for the tax increases and bond proposals. My guess is that many of the bond proposals will be tied to existing property taxes that were raised previously for previous bond proposals. That is how temporary taxes essentially become permanent. They just keep convincing voters to buy more and more bonds, and the so called temporary tax increases have to be continued so that they can pay the new ones off.

    shawn fox
    shawn fox subscriber

    myearth, they did report what he said. That is what the subtext is for within the article. If you want to read something that contains ONLY what Bob Said, then that should certainly be in an editorial written by Bob himself, not by a reporter.

    shawn1874
    shawn1874

    myearth, they did report what he said. That is what the subtext is for within the article. If you want to read something that contains ONLY what Bob Said, then that should certainly be in an editorial written by Bob himself, not by a reporter.

    David Lundin
    David Lundin subscriber

    Totally unprofessional, bordering on malicious.

    DavidnPB
    DavidnPB

    Totally unprofessional, bordering on malicious.

    Janet Shelton
    Janet Shelton subscriber

    I agree that Filner needs to fight for the right thing, but if the Voice is going to take him to task, it needs to be in an editorial. In a news article they need to report what he actually said, and if someone else thinks he really means he is thowing in the towel, then have them say it rather than the reporter and headline writer making that judgment. Articles like this don't help; they hurt. And at that end of the day, I think this is going to be decided by the courts. Leadership is surprising from San Diego mayors, whether in the strong or weak mayor form of government. Filner, DeMaio, Sanders and the council need to be held accountable by the public on the park plan. Given the cheerleading for this project by most of the media, I doubt that will happen.

    myearth
    myearth

    I agree that Filner needs to fight for the right thing, but if the Voice is going to take him to task, it needs to be in an editorial. In a news article they need to report what he actually said, and if someone else thinks he really means he is thowing in the towel, then have them say it rather than the reporter and headline writer making that judgment. Articles like this don't help; they hurt. And at that end of the day, I think this is going to be decided by the courts. Leadership is surprising from San Diego mayors, whether in the strong or weak mayor form of government. Filner, DeMaio, Sanders and the council need to be held accountable by the public on the park plan. Given the cheerleading for this project by most of the media, I doubt that will happen.

    Andrew Donohue
    Andrew Donohue subscriber

    Again, that has nothing to do with one funder. We decided that our interpretation was off and wanted to remedy that.

    adonohue
    adonohue

    Again, that has nothing to do with one funder. We decided that our interpretation was off and wanted to remedy that.

    David Cohen
    David Cohen subscriber

    This is pretty much a non-issue. The fate of the Jacobs Plan will be decided by the Courts, perhaps in conjunction with the passage of time and other naturally-occurring events, any maybe even the success in bonding the garage.

    fryefan
    fryefan

    This is pretty much a non-issue. The fate of the Jacobs Plan will be decided by the Courts, perhaps in conjunction with the passage of time and other naturally-occurring events, any maybe even the success in bonding the garage.

    Ian Trowbridge
    Ian Trowbridge subscribermember

    Myearth, you are being bamboozled by Bob. What he is describing is a manager form of government. As strong mayor his job is not simply to implement council decisions, it is to exercise executive power. If he opposes the Jacobs bridge , he can veto the council decision just as he can veto the financing of the Convention Center expansion. He knows the difference and is being deliberately misleading. As strong mayor he can have the city council revisit both those issues and use the usual techniques to get enough votes on the city council to block both projects.

    iantrowbridge
    iantrowbridge

    Myearth, you are being bamboozled by Bob. What he is describing is a manager form of government. As strong mayor his job is not simply to implement council decisions, it is to exercise executive power. If he opposes the Jacobs bridge , he can veto the council decision just as he can veto the financing of the Convention Center expansion. He knows the difference and is being deliberately misleading. As strong mayor he can have the city council revisit both those issues and use the usual techniques to get enough votes on the city council to block both projects.

    David Lundin
    David Lundin subscriber

    Sloppy reporting and writing--all to make Dr. Jacobs, the largest single donor to VOSD--happy.

    DavidnPB
    DavidnPB

    Sloppy reporting and writing--all to make Dr. Jacobs, the largest single donor to VOSD--happy.

    Janet Shelton
    Janet Shelton subscriber

    Filner may claim he needs to support it because the council passed it, but is it the will of the public? If people understand what it means for the park, does the majority really support it? This should be put to a public vote. Otherwise, the corrosive effect of money and power will leave deep and ugly scars in our beautiful park. Filner, this does not make you look reasonable; it makes you look like a water carrier for those who control San Diego, a fool who stands for the right thing for a moment and then caves without reason.

    myearth
    myearth

    Filner may claim he needs to support it because the council passed it, but is it the will of the public? If people understand what it means for the park, does the majority really support it? This should be put to a public vote. Otherwise, the corrosive effect of money and power will leave deep and ugly scars in our beautiful park. Filner, this does not make you look reasonable; it makes you look like a water carrier for those who control San Diego, a fool who stands for the right thing for a moment and then caves without reason.

    Richard Ross
    Richard Ross subscribermember

    So both DeMaio and Filner are flip floppers. Guess I will have to write in Donna Frye for Mayor even if they don't provide a write in space any more. The destruction of Balboa Park historically and our city fiscally goes on unless SOHO's law suit prevails. Please support SOHO's legal fund.

    Activist
    Activist

    So both DeMaio and Filner are flip floppers. Guess I will have to write in Donna Frye for Mayor even if they don't provide a write in space any more. The destruction of Balboa Park historically and our city fiscally goes on unless SOHO's law suit prevails. Please support SOHO's legal fund.

    Judith OBoyle
    Judith OBoyle subscriber

    I'm with you SDGuy, I'll be sitting out the SD City Elections.

    Judi
    Judi

    I'm with you SDGuy, I'll be sitting out the SD City Elections.