Morning Report: Following the Money on Filner - Voice of San Diego

Morning Report UNVEILING THE UNSEEN

Morning Report: Following the Money on Filner

How much the mayor’s pension grows while he stays in office, a business leader speaks out and measuring the trolley.

Well folks, it’s almost here: The third annual Voice of San Diego Politifest is happening tomorrow at NTC Liberty Station in Point Loma from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. We’ve told you about the beer garden, the all-star political panel, the community booths, the adult jousting ring, the Kids Zone, the Idea Tournament, the solar go kart, the great giveaways, Curious George, Bill Fulton, the sno-cone food truck … and did we mention the jousting ring is right next to the beer garden?

This event would not be possible without our sponsors: San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp., 7 Second Strategies, UPforEd, Cox Communications, San Diego Gas & Electric and Co-Merge.

A big thank you to our partners: NBC 7 San Diego, KPBS, Newsradio 600 AM KOGO and the Malin Burnham Center for Civic Engagement.

To the Politifest crowd-funders, our members and all those who join us tomorrow: Thank you for supporting VOSD and our mission to educate and engage San Diegans.

 

As the chorus of voices calling for Mayor Bob Filner to resign grows louder, the question of his motivations for holding on to power has become more perplexing. Is it denial? Obstinance? Or, as our Liam Dillon wondered, is he in it for the money?

“Staying in office for a full mayoral term means a $23,200 boost to Filner’s annual pension payouts,” Dillon reports. That’s on top of several other pension payments he’s eligible for from his previously-held elected offices. All told, Filner could be looking at a six-figure annual income in retirement, and his mayoral pension is just a piece of that.

It’s also unclear what would happen if Filner was convicted of a felony. Proposition B’s provision that bars convicted felons from receiving city pensions may not apply to employees hired before the law took effect.

Filner Facts, De”myth”tified

Nor would a felony conviction necessarily mean the mayor would be ousted from office, Randy Dotinga reports. Dotinga breaks down four oft-repeated myths concerning Filner’s fiasco. “There appear to be [potentially five] ways for an elected official to leave office in the city before his or her term is up,” Dotinga writes. “Death. Recall. Resignation. Loss of voter eligibility. Defrauding the city.” Loss of voter eligibility only comes when one is imprisoned, he further notes.

Dotinga also breaks down the claim that Filner’s accusers are in it for their own financial gain. Of the eight identified women, only one is suing Filner, and she’s far from guaranteed a payout. “The gold-digger analysis is really off,” law professor Susan Bisom-Rapp told us. “People underestimate how difficult it can be to prove these suits.”

Why Not Pay for Filner’s Defense?

When Filner’s lawyer asked the city to pay for Filner’s legal bills this week, the nation scoffed. The request was widely criticized by commentators and comedians alike. And, most importantly, the City Council uniformly turned down the request.

That was an unusual decision, Lisa Halverstadt notes. Even former police officer Anthony Arevalos, who was accused and ultimately convicted of sexually abusing women during traffic stops, got his defense funded by the city.  Former City Attorney Mike Aguirre said he “could not think of a single case where the city did not provide a defense” for an accused city employee.

But the city’s own lawsuit against the mayor demanding he cover any damages to the city resulting from his behavior makes this situation unusual.

More Filner Coverage

• Mark Cafferty, CEO of the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp., wrote in explaining why his group and others joined the calls for Filner to resign. “It has become impossible to ignore how interconnected our region’s economic development efforts are with the mayor’s office. This interconnectedness is becoming more of a detriment every day,” wrote Cafferty.

• The mayor’s chief of staff, Lee Burdick, has been asked by the City Council to stop quizzing the staffers about sexual harassment allegations, and to turn over documents that she is withholding under the guise of “attorney-client privilege.”

• Escondido’s deputy mayor, Olga Diaz, said that she also had an experience where Filner approached her to ask about her marital status. Her answer that she was married to a cop ended the encounter without any further incident, Diaz said.

• Public records are coming out of Filner’s administration so slowly, some wonder if he isn’t violating the law.

• Fox 5 interviewed Emily Gilbert, a local singer and Marilyn Monroe impersonator, who accused Filner of “grabbing her derriere.” She confirmed the allegation on her Facebook page.

The Blue Line’s Gold Standard

San Diego’s not known for its public transit. So SANDAG’s executive director turned Andy Keatts’ head when he called the San Diego Trolley’s blue line “one of the best light rail lines in the entire country.”

Keatts put that claim through the Fact Check wringer, using the official’s preferred metric — a standard called farebox that measures cost effectiveness. By that ruler, he’s basically right. Others in the comments section have weighed in on what standards they think should factor into the equation.

News Nibbles

• U-T San Diego notes the passing of the San Diego Film Commission, and, most likely, of San Diego’s chances of being picked as a filming location in the future.

• San Diego’s pension system reported big investment gains Thursday, which could mean good times ahead for San Diego with lower pension payments added to potential savings from five-year labor deals.

• As the principal of La Jolla High School moves to an assistant job in the district’s central office, the U-T wonders whether the move has anything to do with a recent audit that found mismanagement of some funds at La Jolla High.

• This aerial image of San Diego is so big and detailed, you can probably see your house in it. Heck, you might be able to see inside your house. Click to zoom!

What Would You 3D Print?

The UPS Store announced San Diego as its first test market to roll out 3D printer technology in select stores. If you didn’t know, 3D printers use quick-drying resin to “print out” solid 3D objects layer by layer, like figurines or prototypes of inventions.

But others have used the printers for more controversial objects, like guns, or working human bones. Someone replaced a bald eagle’s broken beak with a 3D-printed replacement beak. Someone else printed an entire room; someone else a car. And in a sign of our impending doom, the printers are now printing … more printers.

Unfortunately the systems won’t arrive at stores in time for me to print out a custom lance to use for jousting at tomorrow’s Politifest celebration. No bother. I’ll be manning the beer garden; I hope you’ll stop by for some brew with the crew!

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