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San Diego Mayor Bob Filner, elected only last November, has come under fire for his treatment of women, with accusations of sexual harassment, intimidation, inappropriate behavior, corruption and more.
Now the Democrat is facing a recall effort.
His ex-fiancée, his staff and his closest political allies – some of whom are alleged victims – have repeatedly called for his resignation. But a defiant Filner has argued that he is “a hugger” of a different generation in which his actions were more acceptable and has promised he would “get help.”
San Diego citizens, who have compared him to New York mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner, have had enough.
In a 10News/San Diego Union-Tribune poll, respondents said two to one that Filner should be recalled if he does not resign. While voters may get that chance, there are hurdles.
On Monday, the official recall effort against Filner was launched by the owner of a La Jolla, Calif., land-use consulting company. Michael Pallamary filed a recall notice with the city clerk’s office and will be able to start collecting signatures on Aug. 18.
At a news conference, standing next to his grandchildren, Pallamary appealed to the public.
“We have to rid our city of this man. He is committed to destroying this city, day by day, hour by hour,” he said. “… I’m appealing to every one of you to come forward. Do not be afraid. Do not be afraid of this man. The emperor is naked. Today we stand here unified as a city. Set aside any differences you have. Businesses open your checkbooks. Help me do this. Help my family.”
In the Sunday edition of the San Diego Union-Tribune, Pallamary completed the first step by publishing his intent to recall Filner. Monday, the second step was completed when he filed his intent to recall with the city clerk. Filner has 14 days from the published intent to publish his answer to the charges and file his answer with the city clerk.
Signature collection can begin three weeks after publishing the intent to recall in the newspaper. If Filner files an answer, it must be attached to every petition that is circulated.
Petitioners will hit the streets on Aug. 18 and will have 39 days to gather signatures from 15 percent of the city’s registered voters, about 101,600 people.
The city clerk’s office must receive the signatures by 5 p.m. on Sept. 26.
The signatures will be verified by the clerk’s office, and if the minimum numbers are not found to be valid, another 30 days will be granted. If the signatures are verified, the voters will decided whether or not to recall the mayor.
The recall election would be held between 60 and 90 days after verification of the signatures. If a majority votes to recall, the voters would be called back to the polls to choose a new mayor.
But City Council President Todd Gloria told CBS8 San Diego the city’s current recall process might be unconstitutional.
“We have come to find out by studying the recall process closer than anyone’s had to look at it in years that there are portions of our recall ordinance that do not match state law and as such may be unconstitutional.”
Gloria was referring to the section of the California election code that was challenged in court and found to be unconstitutional during the statewide recall of Gov. Gray Davis. The challenged provision stated that the vote for a candidate doesn’t count unless the voter also voted in the recall election.
A similar provision exists in the San Diego municipal code and may be challenged in court as was the statewide provision. Article 7 of the San Diego Municipal Code states, “No vote cast for a candidate shall be counted unless the voter also voted on the recall question.”
But there are other complications.
Another notice of intent to recall was published in newspapers by Stampp Corbin two days before Pallamary’s notice was posted.
City guidelines say that only one recall petition may be filed in a six-month period. Corbin, owner of LGBT Weekly, is a known Filner supporter. Susan Jester, head of the Log Cabin Republican group in San Diego, says Corbin is hijacking the recall process.
Jester spoke with Fox5 San Diego about her conversation with Corbin in which he outlined his plan to sabotage the recall effort: “Filing the notification, getting the petitions, taking them to his office, getting six or seven people, or 10 or 50 or whatever, less than 102,000, whatever it’s supposed to be. And then taking them in, turning them in and being denied, of course, the recall.”
At that point, the law would prohibit any other recall effort from starting within six months.
Corbin denied Jester’s claim.
“It’s patently ridiculous that I would call her and say I am sabotaging the recall … that I would be so dumb as to call the head of the gay Republicans Log Cabin group and tell her that’s what I was going to do,” he told San Diego’s 10News.
At the press conference Monday, Pallamary gave Corbin a deadline to withdraw his recall effort.
“I’ve extended my offer,” he said.
He warned he would file a complaint with the district attorney if that doesn’t happen.
Gloria told CBS8 San Diego that multiple recalls were an unforeseen problem.
“It’s something that is kind of unheard of. I don’t think we really anticipated that there’d be a time in the city when multiple efforts to recall the mayor would be under way.”
City officials aren’t quite sure how it will play out, but the city attorney is reportedly reviewing the municipal code.
Then there is the social media battle.
The Recall Bob Filner Facebook page run by Pallamary has been steadily gaining “likes” over the past month and is up to 8,000 fans. A Facebook page in support of Filner was launched in the middle of July and gained 4,000 fans almost overnight. The page jumped from 23 “likes” on July 16 to 4,000 the next day.
And now on Craigslist, a posting advertises paid positions for signature collectors. Neither Corbin nor Pallamary takes credit for the Craigslist posting.
It’s not Pallamary’s first recall. He organized a successful recall against San Diego City Councilmember Linda Bernhardt in 1991 in which a whopping 70 percent of voters agreed to oust her from office.