Stay up to Date
Our weekly insiders guide to political and policy news (Saturdays)
“My own personal failures were responsible.”
I would say thank you for allowing me to be here, but obviously this is not a happy time for any of us. Not for the city of San Diego. Not for those who represent. For my own part in causing all this, I offer a deep apology. Certainly to all the citizens of San Diego and through you, to the citizens that you represent.
The city should not have been put through this. And my own personal failures were responsible. And I apologize to the city. I have a lot of supporters out there. I apologize, I apologize to all of you. I think I let you down. We had a chance to do a progressive vision in this city for the first time in 50 years. As I’ll say later, we need you to carry that vision forward. This is not the time to let it die. I apologize to all of you.
I would like to say especially to my former fiancée, Bronwyn, I love you very much. You came to love San Diego as much as I did. And you did memorable things in the short time that you were first lady. And I personally apologize for the hurt that I have caused you, Bronwyn.
To all the women that I offended, I had no intention to be offensive. To violate any physical or emotional space. I was trying to establish personal relationships. But the combination of awkwardness and hubris, I think, led to behavior that many found offensive. I, again, as I have in the past, sincerely apologize to all of you and I will try to make amends in any suitable manner.
For the part that I had played, and I take responsibility for putting the city through a very bad time, again I apologize to all of you. Certainly it was never my intention to be a mayor who went out like this.
Now I have to caution the Council about one thing, and I guess the city. You know, I started my political career facing lynch mobs. And I think we have just faced one here in San Diego. You’re going to have to deal with that. In a lynch mob mentality, rumors become allegations, allegations become facts, facts become evidence of sexual harassment, which have led to demands for my resignation and recall.
Not one allegation, members of the council, has ever been independently verified or proven in court. I have never sexually harassed anyone. But the hysteria that has been created, and many of you helped to feed, is the hysteria of a lynch mob.
As I said, I faced lynch mobs many times when I was younger. No evidence was needed. The mob knew who was guilty. Who needed due process? Well, ladies and gentlemen, democracy needs due process. San Diego needs due process. Those of you in the media and in politics who fed this hysteria, I think, need to look at what you helped create. Because you have unleashed a monster. I think we’ll be paying for this affront to democracy for a long time.
Now, the hysteria ended up playing into the hands of those who wanted a political coup. The removal of a democratically elected mayor purely by rumor and innuendo. I am responsible for providing the ammunition. I did that and I take full responsibility. But there are well-organized interests who have run this city for 50 years who pointed the gun. And the media and their political agents pulled the trigger. That, ladies and gentlemen, is not what democracy is about.
I was elected to make changes. People opposed me from the beginning. They found the weapons they needed in my own failures as a human being. But they found those weapons. And they used them. In a bloody and vicious way. You’re going to have to deal with that if you care about democracy.
What I would like to leave you with is what I started my campaign on and that is a vision of what this city ought to be and what we can become. You’ve watched, most of you supported, as we looked at Balboa Park and prepared for the centennial. We got the cars out of the Plaza de Panama for the first time ever. If you haven’t been by there, go. Boy, it’s an incredible canvas on which we can all paint what the future of Balboa Park will be.
We protected seals and we protected La Jolla from the poop from the seals and others. We negotiated tens of millions of dollars of savings for you all in our leases of our buildings. We have a structurally balanced budget and we joined in a five-year labor agreement, which, for the first time, gives us the stability to help our employees without further vilification of them for those who run this city.
As you know, I ran on a platform of neighborhoods, of making them livable, walkable, bikeable. We’ve hired world-class people to help in that. Our planning director Bill Fulton. The incubator that we have established now on the fourth floor with world-class urban thinkers will help prepare the way for really exciting neighborhood adventures.
With many of you, we put the stress back on public safety. We’ve had a terrible, terrible downward spiral in the ability of this city to provide adequate fire and police protection. We’ve started to reverse it and hope you will continue to do that.
Our economy is still fragile. But we worked together to present a vision for our port and the expansion for trade and thousands of jobs. We started to solarize or use alternative energy on all the public buildings that are owned by not only the city, but the county and the school district. To not only do our part for the environment, but create again hundreds, if not thousands, of jobs. We tried to make the border more efficient, which would put billions of dollars in our economy.
Through all this, I tried to look at the working people of San Diego. Those who struggle every day to make this city great. And I have to particularly thank the leaders of our working community, the labor community, for helping me not only in the first seven months, but in the last few weeks. I needed both the time and the support to reflect on what matters to me personally as well as the confidence to know that the city will move forward. Labor leaders helped me on both fronts. They encouraged me to seek professional help, which I did and I’m continuing. They allowed me to focus on what’s best for everyone whose lives I have to influence. And when it seemed that a lot of the political structure was paralyzed and distracted by my personal situation, labor leaders worked with my staff and with the City Council, and you guys passed a prevailing wage measure, which will provide a real boost to working families and our local economy and to taxpayers. I ran for office to advance these types of policies and I can leave now confident that labor will continue to pull our community together as we need it.
I hope you will look at a book I recommended to you called “The First Industrial Revolution.” It says what we have to do as a city, a region, state and a nation to deal with climate change and the loss of fossil fuel future. We’ve introduced, and I hope you will pass, a climate action plan. But we wanted to be the first city in North America to accomplish “The First Industrial Revolution.” And I hope you will look at that.
We’ve extended, as you have all helped with, our support for the arts and culture in this community. To really help the homeless and unemployed veterans get their self respect back. As you know, as a city our particular, particular strength comes from our position as part of the biggest binational metropolitan area in the world. We’ve had a tremendous acceleration of our relationships with Tijuana and with Mexico, which I hope you will continue. We have an office there now.
The planning for a binational Olympics bid is in the works. I hope you will not be put off by gloom and doom about that ability. It is the most exciting thing that we could do as a region. And just the planning of it will be exciting for us to move forward.
Through this all, as I have done through my whole life, we have stressed that the strength of this city is on its diversity. I don’t have to tell you, you know. This city is a majority of people of color. And yet if you look at any economic or political group in this city, you can’t tell that. We have not tapped the full strength of the diversity of this community. We’re all in this together, ladies and gentlemen. We are stronger when we include everybody at the table, everybody at the economic table, everybody at the political table. We’re all in this together.
Obviously, this is the toughest decision of my life. Y’all know me to be a fighter. I made promises to the people of San Diego. To give everyone an equal opportunity, a chance to be heard, a chance to have that seat at the table. That vision terrified a lot of folks and the fight for control of this city has become, as I said, vicious and bloody.
Unfortunately, on my own, and you all helped cut off any support for that, I can’t afford to continue this battle. Even though I know if given due process, I would be vindicated. It’s not in my nature to walk away from a fight and I want the people of San Diego to know that my vision that you voted for in the mayoral election will not die.
Now, Lord knows, I am not perfect. I made a lot of mistakes. But in my heart, my desire for a progressive world will drive me to keep going. I will not give up.
In the final analysis, of course, politics is not about any of us as individuals. It should not be about me, but ideas that move us forward. Whoever will be the next mayor, my hope is that these ideas that have resonated with our San Diego communities are continued and respected.
I was at Madison Square Garden when Ted Kennedy said, in 1980 as he conceded to President Carter in the nomination for the Democratic president: “The work goes on. The cause endures. The hope still lives. And the dream shall never die.” Thank you.