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I put a simple question to San Diego Mayor Bob Filner’s top deputies and lawyers Thursday morning: Where is the mayor and when is he coming back?
I sent the question out to the mayor himself, too.
Filner’s been gone almost three weeks since his July 26 announcement he was entering two weeks of in-patient therapy to deal with “inexcusable” treatment of women. In that announcement, Filner said he’d return on August 19 when his treatment was over. But things have changed since then. Filner exited therapy on Saturday, according to Filner lawyer James Payne, a week earlier than he had said because he had apparently started early. Payne said Filner was “taking personal time” this week, though late Monday the mayor defended his fitness for office in an official response to a recall campaign against him. No one has said where the mayor is or confirmed when he will return to City Hall.
I sent an email to the mayor’s chief of staff, spokeswoman, interim chief operating officer and the three attorneys we know he’s hired. (I’ve redacted the email address of Filner attorney Jerry Coughlan because it’s not public on his website.)
I also sent an email to the mayor’s personal email address, which I have redacted.
Walt Ekard, the interim COO, responded quickly.
Lená Lewis, Filner’s spokeswoman, answered an hour later.
Before I could call Payne’s office, Lewis sent another email. This was a press release announcing the mayor had approved $120,000 in small business grants this week. Apparently, he had signed off on the grants from wherever he is.
I called Payne around 12:30 p.m. A robot answered. I left my name, number, email, deadline and the two questions. (Note: I mistakenly said it was Tuesday, not Thursday.)
Soon after, another woman publicly accused Filner of sexual harassment. Peggy Shannon, who works at a senior citizens help desk at City Hall, said at a press conference with her attorney Gloria Allred that Filner made inappropriate advances toward her while she was on the job. Allred said Shannon planned to return to work at City Hall on Friday. Shannon said wants Filner to resign and never wants to see him in the office again.
My 3:30 p.m. deadline came and went without a call from Payne or contact from anyone else I had written. No one would say where the mayor is or when he is coming back.