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A top aide’s possible departure, coupled with the snowballing Sunroad scandal and a dramatic exchange in closed session make for a very bad week for Filner.
City insiders were abuzz Thursday over rumors of a potential major shakeup in Mayor Bob Filner’s top leadership team. It came amid a week of scandal and drama.
Deputy Chief of Staff Allen Jones was seen walking out of City Hall with officers. Jones is the long-time Filner ally who, as a developer and lobbyist, is an expert on land-use. He’s a key liaison to the business and development communities.
But I appeared at an event Thursday with Filner and pulled him aside after to see if he could clear it up.
Here’s how our conversation went.
Did you fire Allen Jones?
I’m not going to talk about personnel issues.
Did he quit?
I’m not going to talk about it.
But he’s not working for you any longer?
As far as I know, he is.
As far as you know he is?
When I left the office, he was there.
You know what started this?
No, no, no, who did you hear something from?
I can’t say.
Well, I’ll tell you. There was a guy waiting for a meeting with me, [Former City Councilman Jim] Madaffer. He was waiting in the lobby. And Allen came down with some officers who were helping him move some boxes. All of a sudden, he’s “forcibly removed.”
So he’s not. He’s still part of your administration.
As far as I know.
So police officers were helping him move out some boxes? That’s all?
A source at City Hall, who requested anonymity, says Jones resigned. And the mayor’s security detail — who are officers — helped him remove his boxes.
The source said Jones’ frustration had to do with the mayor’s treatment of his own staff. The mayor later asked him to reconsider and remain on staff.
Here’s the Reader’s take. Writer Dorian Hargrove has been pretty reliable on Filner insider drama.
According to a reliable source, Jones was let go today. Calls to the Mayor’s Office to confirm have gone unanswered.
In the past week, questions have been raised about Jones’s role in a $100,000 mystery donation from Sunroad to two of Mayor Filner’s pet projects. The checks were written after the Mayor had vetoed a permit issued to Sunroad, allowing the developer to ignore city setbacks and build on 9-feet of nearby parkland. Shortly after receiving the checks, the Mayor’s office went back on the refusal to ignore the setbacks and urged council to override the veto.
This Sunroad thing is snowballing into a full-blown scandal. Filner’s public statements on it have come pretty close to just acknowledging he changed his mind about a permitting issue because Sunroad donated to some city initiatives. They are worthwhile projects but still, yikes.
Then there was this mess in a closed session.
The mayor had a city attorney forcibly removed from closed session in an outburst that is not getting good reviews.
As much as he has accepted a contentious relationship with City Council President Todd Gloria, the mayor does not need a fellow Democrat bemoaning his behavior like this. Attorney Gil Cabrera, a Democrat, has a good take that follows Gloria’s point: People deserve more respect.
This was just a terrible week for a mayor, who had been on a winning streak.