The recall drive actually preceded Filner’s sexual-harassment charges by two weeks, said Pallamary, who’s spearheading the drive and has practical experience, having initiated the successful political recall in 1991 of San Diego City Councilwoman Linda Bernhardt.
Pallamary said he foresaw Filner’s political meltdown.
“I’ve watched Filner’s relationships deteriorate over the years,” he said, noting Filner has “fought with the city attorney, fought with the press, fought with the city, fought with virtually everyone he’s interfaced with.”
Filner’s eroding political situation was “incredibly predictable,” claims Pallamary, who said he set up a Facebook page in full anticipation of Filner’s political reverses.
“Very bizarre,” is how Pallamary described the political recall process he’s launching to unseat the mayor.
The first step, he said, is to publish in a newspaper of general circulation the intent to recall the mayor and lay out the rationale. Then the mayor would have 14 days to rebut the recall arguments.
Following that, the recall could be launched with petitioners having 69 days (39 originally) to gather 101,000 signatures (more like 130,000 or 140,000 to be safe) from 15 percent of eligible registered voters citywide.
Asked about a recall’s chance of qualifying for an election ballot, Pallamary said, “We expect it to be a challenge,” but added, “If you have motivated and angry people, you’ll qualify. If you look at the pulse of the city, I think there are a lot of angry people right now.”
If a recall petition drive is successful, Pallamary said the City Council “must call an election.”
And on that election ballot, Pallamary said there would be just two questions: Should Mayor Filner be recalled, yes or no. If the answer is yes, voters would then be asked to select from a list of candidates to replace Filner.
Since there could be multiple candidates — and because to win outright a candidate would have to get a 50 percent-plus-one majority — the likelihood is that an election would have to be called between the top two vote-getters.
The situation could be even more complicated if Filner should voluntarily resign. Then, said Pallamary, a special election, as opposed to a recall election, would have to be held. If no candidate in a special election gets a majority of the vote then, again, there would be runoff election between the top two candidates.
“Now you have two elections versus just one at an extraordinary cost,” said Pallamary. “My worst fear, if he does resign and we run into that runoff, is that it will be an extremely expensive, extremely hostile and extremely partisan campaign.”
On July 22, following a news conference during which Irene McCormack Jackson, Filner’s former communications director, stepped forward with formal accusations of sexual harassment against the mayor, City Attorney Jan Goldsmith spelled out the city’s role regarding Filner’s defense.
Noting his office “would defend the city well,” and that Filner had retained attorney Harvey Berger as his own personal legal counsel, Goldsmith, who has frequently been at odds with Filner, said the mayor has been instructed “not to meet with women alone at city facilities.”
Filner asked the City Council to reimburse his personal legal expenses, but the council unanimously rejected the request July 30. Instead, the council filed a cross-complaint seeking reimbursement from Filner should city government be required to pay damages when the lawsuit is resolved.
UPDATE: Filner to take leave of absence to seek therapy
At a July 26 press conference, Mayor Bob Filner apologized to all San Diegans, in particular the women he has offended, and said he would be taking a two-week leave of absence beginning Aug. 5.
Filner said he will undergo intensive professional therapy to work through his “issues” with women to change his behavior in light of sexual-harassment allegations.
Filner’s statement, however, was not satisfactory to some at City Hall.
“Two weeks of therapy will not end decades of bad behavior,” said District 2 City Councilman Kevin Faulconer. “Bob Filner should leave to receive the help he obviously needs, but he shouldn’t take the office of the mayor and San Diego city government with him. He needs to resign and seek long-term treatment as a private citizen.”
District 6 Councilwoman Lorie Zapf agreed.
“At the end of the day, Mayor Filner continues to put his needs in front of the needs of his victims and the needs of citizens of San Diego. He is the mayor of the eighth-largest city in the country and he must be held to a higher standard. By not stepping down, it is an insult to the victims, and an insult to women everywhere.”
Last month, former City Councilwoman Donna Frye and two high-profile attorneys urged Filner to resign immediately, alleging sexual-harassment accusations from women who did not immediately come forward.
The first woman to do so, former Filner communications director Irene McCormack Jackson, 57, represented by renowned civil-rights attorney Gloria Allred, announced July 22 that a sexual-harassment lawsuit was being filed against the mayor and the city of San Diego.
As of July 31, a total of eight women had emerged to allege Filner had acted inappropriately toward them, making physical contact and/or unwanted sexual advances.