By Miriam Raftery
July 12, 2013 (San Diego) – Mayor Bob Filner today announced support for an independent investigation into any complaints of sexual harassment by women on his staff and added that he believes the investigation will clear him of legal wrongdoing.
“While I stand by my comments and pledge of yesterday to make changes to improve the workplace environment in my office, I am confident that a fair and independent investigation will support my innocence with respect to any charges of sexual harassment,” Mayor Filner said in a statement issued today.
The announcement comes one day after three of his long-time supporters called for his resignation, alleging to have credible evidence of sexual harassment complaints made by multiple women who worked for the Mayor. None of the women have been identified and details of the alleged harassment have not been disclosed.
However Mayor Filner yesterday admitted to showing a lack of respect for some women on his staff and further indicated some of his actions may have been “intimidating.” He further stated that he plans to seek “help.” Today he made clear that in his view, his actions stopped short of anything illegal.
The Mayor’s statement today also laid out a process for the independent investigation.
“Consistent with the email sent to all employees yesterday by the Human Resources Department, the City’s EEO Policy was established to ensure that all City employees, contract workers, and volunteers are aware of their rights and responsibilities, and that the workplace is free from discrimination, harassment, and/or retaliation in any form,” he stated. ““If a claim is made, the City has a 100% response policy. The City will respond, and take necessary steps to investigate reports of discrimination, harassment, or retaliation made in the workplace and will take appropriate action.”
Filner added that he is “committed to ensuring a full, complete and independent investigation in response to any formal complaint against me. To ensure the independence of an investigation, all complaints will be referred to the City’s Equal Opportunity Investigative Office (EEIO) which does not report to me.” Further, he stated, “If there are concerns related to the City conducting the investigation, I will authorize the use of an outside independent investigator.”
County Democratic Chair Francine Busby today announced that the Central Committee will hold a special meeting to address the issue.
The Party has supported Bob Filner's vision for listening to neighborhoods, celebrating diversity, investing in working families, and embracing progress. San Diegans voted for him because of his vision,” Busby wrote. "However, sexual harrasment is unacceptable at any level of government or workplace."
Busby indicated that she opted to convene a special meeting after learning “ a few specifics” regarding the matter. ""I have heard from many of our constituents about their concerns that this scandal is drawing attention away from the important issues our city faces. Our priority is to ensure that the Office of the Mayor is leading San Diego effectively."
Council member Marti Emerald voiced support for the Mayor. “I commend Mayor Filner for the courage to admit he has made mistakes and for his commitment to change his behavior,” said Emerald. “I hope the people of San Diego will support Mayor Filner in his effort to make a change and continue to make a positive difference in our city.”
But three other Councilmembers yesterday added their voices to those calling for the mayor’s resignation: Kevin Faulconer, Scott Sherman and Lori Zapf.
“As a woman, I am deeply troubled by this behavior,” Zapf said, Fox 5 news reported. “As an elected official who represents the citizens of San Diego, I am saddened for what this means for our City. I ask that the Mayor do the honorable thing and step down.”