While announcing the launch of on occasional column, Eyes on the Bully’s Pulpit, several weeks ago, I wrote the following…
“If you are aware of any items or actions concerning Mayor Filner that you feel the public needs to know, you can either share them with me via Rostra or submit them as a post. I will post information if is legitimate and worthwhile. Rostra will always respect anonymity, per our rules, while also considering the credibility of the source and the information provided. I completely understand why those close to any of the stories may have worthwhile information, while needing to remain anonymous.”
That is even more true today than it was in April. Here’s a submission from a very credible insider, concerned about the very retaliation upon which she or he touches…
Are Your Calls for Filner’s Resignation Effective?
I’ve grown weary of seeing Bob Filner’s political operatives conduct damage control at the Mayor’s Office. They’ve so far been successful in keeping Bob on message, and have used narrow talking points to frame the issue at hand:
- They’ve been able to trivialize and reduce down serious sexual harassment and sexual battery claims as a workplace issue that should be handled internally by the City’s HR department, despite the fact that some of the allegations are not from city employees.
- They’ve been able to turn the tables on the alleged victims, nearly daring them to come forward and reveal themselves to public scrutiny.
- They’ve been able to swat away calls for Filner to step down by claiming that “due process” is first deserved, an amorphous term which they control and continue to define, because Filner is the one who will let you know whether he has received it or not.
- They’ve been able to deflect arguments that an embattled Mayor can’t perform his job, by suggesting the Mayor’s role is mostly a management position, and then hiring an experienced, respected former county official to run city operations on an interim basis.
Let’s be honest – right now, Filner is winning. Many of his talking points have been regurgitated by both the media and those calling for Filner’s resignation. Sure, the calls for resignation from politicians have been piling up, but have they resulted in a growing perception of an isolated, impotent Mayor, that has no choice but to resign? The answer is No.
It is problematic that those that have called for the Mayor to resign have used an array of arguments and colorful language to make their case. In private conversations and in the media, I’ve heard lots of emotive rhetoric, political grandstanding and platitudes. It’s time we begin to rethink how we’re making our case, and reflect on whether we are being effective with communicating to the 1 million+ San Diegans who are not interested in politics, weren’t sexually harassed, and don’t follow City Hall politics closely. Remember your audience.
You’re not going to win the argument that Filner needs to resign by saying, “Yes, he deserves due process, BUT…” If you begin by using Filner’s talking points, you implicitly accept the way he is framing the issue before the media.
There are a lot of smarter ways for us to communicate our arguments before a disinterested and uninformed public. We need to show how allowing Filner to stay in office, for even another minute, hurts the direct interests of everyday San Diegans, and endangers those accusing the Mayor of sexual harassment and sexual battery. I came up with three core points anyone can make for Filner’s resignation. Feel free to use the following talking points with your friends, family, and on social media:
For the interests of the alleged victims, and of all San Diegans, it is urgent that Bob Filner resign from office immediately.
Mayors Are Leaders, Not Managers, And Filner Is Now Unable To Lead
Leadership, not management, is the primary role of the Mayor of San Diego. Mayors build and use political capital to achieve large, visionary economic and public policy goals. The Mayor is a citywide elected position because San Diego needs a leader that can foster consensus within the City Council and drive a broader agenda that will move our city forward in a positive way. The Mayor also needs strong working relationships with our state and congressional delegations to identify government projects and funds that will create jobs and improve our quality of life. The sexual harassment/sexual battery scandal engulfing the Mayor’s Office has irrevocably destroyed his reputation, his credibility, and his political capital in San Diego. A supermajority of the City Council has called for his resignation, and a growing number of state and congressional representatives are also calling for his resignation. Bob Filner no longer has the ability to be the effective, commanding leader San Diegans elected.
Keeping Filner In Office Hurts The Interests of Everyday San Diegans
Bob Filner is no longer able to serve as an effective leader for San Diego, and that hurts the interests of all San Diegans. An incapacitated, ineffective Mayor cannot advance job creation, citywide initiatives, or improve the quality of life of San Diego residents. Without a strong citywide representative, San Diegans may lose out on valuable opportunities to save taxpayer dollars, complete civic projects, and add jobs to our local economy. Our city will lose the influence and prestige it needs to compete against other big cities in America for public funds and commercial investment. Continued low morale and dysfunction at City Hall and the Mayor’s Office hurts our ability to retain and recruit talented, experienced city workers who are tasked with important government services business owners and citizens depend on.
Keeping Filner In Office Leaves His Accusers, and All Victims, In Danger of Retaliation
Many of these women continue to live in San Diego and work in the political arena. They are working professionals, raising families and paying mortgages. Bob Filner has a documented history of vindictive behavior and of using his political power to punish and destroy those that oppose him. It is a very real possibility that he may use his influence, and the power of his office, to force these women out of their jobs, block their professional advancement, and make their lives miserable. By coming forward, these women are already putting themselves in danger of losing their jobs, their homes and their professional careers. They can only be safe from retaliation if the Mayor steps down from political power.
To not demand his immediate resignation sets a bad precedent for other public- and private-sector leaders in our community who face serious, credible allegations of misconduct and criminal behavior.