On Aug. 30, 2013, at precisely 5 p.m., San Diego Mayor Bob Filner resigned from office amid an infamous sexual harassment scandal. Five minutes later, I was fired. As Filner’s chief of staff, I was terminated along with three other top senior advisers. My only transgression was serving in a doomed political administration.
I’m not naive. I understand that when a chief executive, or even an NFL coach, is let go for cause, his or her senior advisers often follow. So I had no expectation that I would be kept on the city payroll after the mayor was forced from office. However, what followed my firing – prolonged unemployment after a successful legal and public policy career, abandoned by people who I thought were friends, financial devastation – was completely unexpected. I became a pariah in a community I had served with dedication and integrity for a decade before I met, let alone associated with, a man who would be my downfall. In the aftermath of the Filner debacle, none of that seemed to matter.
Have no doubt that Bob Filner at 71 with 30-plus-years in public service was an abrasive, narcissistic personality who offended virtually everyone at one time or another. Although many people (I was not one of them) apparently knew about Filner’s sexual proclivities before he was elected, it was revealed publicly only after his election that he often used his political visibility and power to try to attract women for romantic and sexual trysts. In his efforts to “hook-up,” he was sloppy, insensitive and often juvenile. On many occasions, he overstepped the bounds of propriety and committed acts so unfathomably offensive that it was difficult to see how he could have gotten so far in public life.