San Diego officials seem to care a lot about who came up with the policy that Mayor Bob Filner isn’t allowed to meet alone with women on city property.

First, the mayor’s own inner circle couldn’t agree on the policy’s origin. Filner lawyer Harvey Berger said in a letter to City Attorney Jan Goldsmith that the idea came from Goldsmith. But Filner’s chief of staff Lee Burdick said in multiple television interviews that the mayor had put the policy in place himself as a sort-of insurance policy against any future claims of misbehavior.

But in an email exchange between Burdick and Berger obtained by Voice of San Diego, Berger admits he was wrong, and defers to Burdick’s version of how the policy began.

Now, the city attorney’s office has offered information that appears to tell a different story.

Goldsmith first requested the mayor no longer meet alone with women on city property on July 16 in a letter to Berger, which we received in a public records request. That day, Goldsmith said the same thing in a memo to the city’s chief operating officer, Walt Ekard. Goldsmith added that he needed Police Chief William Lansdowne’s approval, too. (A spokesperson for Lansdowne couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.)

“The importance of this request cannot be minimized,” Goldsmith wrote. “I need to hear back from both you and Chief Lansdowne in writing. If this policy is approved by both of you, it needs to be announced publicly so that women understand they are not permitted to meet alone with Mayor Filner.”


We Stand Up For You. Will You Stand Up For Us?

It’s unclear why all the parties involved seem so preoccupied with the genesis of a relatively minor policy matter.

Goldsmith’s office said it just wants to set the record straight and isn’t trying to take credit for the policy.

“All we’re saying is this is how it went down,” said Assistant City Attorney Paul Cooper. “So we’re not sure why [Burdick’s] claiming it happened the way she describes it when that’s not correct.”

Burdick couldn’t be reached for comment.

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

    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.

    10 comments
    Don Wood
    Don Wood

    I don't know about city officials, but at least one VOSD reporter appears to be making this his life's work... How about investigating the rumor about a group being caught eavesdropping on the mayor's offices from a room in the Westgate Hotel? Guess that would be more challenging journalism work then reading city staffers emails.

    Don Wood
    Don Wood subscriber

    I don't know about city officials, but at least one VOSD reporter appears to be making this his life's work... How about investigating the rumor about a group being caught eavesdropping on the mayor's offices from a room in the Westgate Hotel? Guess that would be more challenging journalism work then reading city staffers emails.

    Nicolas Abel
    Nicolas Abel

    I agree with the previous post. Why is VOSD wasting time with this? Liam Dillon's time could be better spent.

    christine mann
    christine mann

    LLiam does whatever his boss Irwin Jacobs tells him to do..

    Nicolas Abel
    Nicolas Abel subscribermember

    I agree with the previous post. Why is VOSD wasting time with this? Liam Dillon's time could be better spent.

    christine mann
    christine mann subscriber

    LLiam does whatever his boss Irwin Jacobs tells him to do..

    David Cohen
    David Cohen

    It is also unclear why VOSD is preoccupied with this.

    David Cohen
    David Cohen subscriber

    It is also unclear why VOSD is preoccupied with this.

    David Hall
    David Hall

    "It’s unclear why all the parties involved seem so preoccupied with the genesis of a relatively minor policy matter." It's unclear? Really? One word: politics. Duh.

    David Hall
    David Hall subscriber

    "It’s unclear why all the parties involved seem so preoccupied with the genesis of a relatively minor policy matter." It's unclear? Really? One word: politics. Duh.