A rally in support of embattled San Diego Mayor Bob Filner is scheduled to be held at City Hall today, a day after a signature-gathering campaign to qualify a recall vote got underway.
The "Standing with Mayor Filner and Due Process" rally is scheduled to begin at noon and has been organized via the Facebook page, "San Diegans for Mayor Bob Filner." The page was created in February—early five months before Filner was accused of sexual harassment—and has 341 "likes" as of early today.
Supporters argue that the mayor is being denied his due process and that the recall campaign against him is being orchestrated by opponents of his political agenda, not his alleged misdeeds.
Filner opponents also have created a Facebook page. In late June—after he was accused of shaking down developers for donations but before he was accused of sexual harassment — "Recall Bob Filner" was launched. It has 10,061 "likes" as of early today.
Organizers of the recall campaign were allowed to circulate petitions for the first time Sunday. They need to turn in nearly 102,000 valid signatures by Sept. 26 to get the recall onto the ballot.
Volunteers seeking signatures Sunday targeted civic events with big crowds, including America's Finest City Half Marathon at Balboa Park. They then capped off the day with a Freedom From Filner rally in front of City Hall, with more than 300 supporters attending.
Whether Filner will show up for work at the City Administration Building today was unknown. Messages sent to his private Irvine-based lawyer, James Payne, and the mayor's office seeking comment on when Filner would return to work were not returned.
Filner's last public appearances were in the final week of July, when he attended a groundbreaking ceremony for a trolley construction project and when he held a news conference to announce that he would be seeking behavioral therapy.
After apologizing for what he called a failure to respect women and for his "intimidating conduct," Filner voluntarily checked himself into a two- week inpatient behavioral therapy program. The program ended Aug. 10, according to Payne, who said his client was continuing treatment on an outpatient basis. Payne said Filner did not return to work last week because he took a "personal week."
Sixteen women have publicly accused Filner of making unwanted advances, including three city employees. One of the municipal workers, ex-mayoral Communications Director Irene McCormack Jackson, has sued Filner and the city.
The latest woman to come forward, Peggy Shannon, said the mayor repeatedly asked her out and one time grabbed her and kissed her on the lips. At a news conference Thursday with lawyer Gloria Allred, Shannon said Filner walked by her after the first sexual harassment allegations were lodged and put his finger to his lips.
Allred said Shannon, a 67-year great-grandmother who works part time serving seniors in the lobby of the City Administration Building, will decide whether to file a lawsuit when a city investigation is completed.
Filner has apologized for his conduct with women but contends his actions don't rise to the level of sexual harassment.
He also faces investigations into alleged misuse of city-issued credit cards and shakedowns of developers.
In a recall-related development Friday, the City Attorney's Office said a section of San Diego law that requires signature-gatherers be residents of San Diego and registered to vote in order for the names they collect to be counted will not be enforced.
Similar provisions elsewhere were struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court, and the city of San Diego removed them from its code for initiatives and referenda but kept them on the books for recalls, according to Deputy District Attorney Sharon Spivak.
The entire City Council and numerous other civic and business leaders have called for Filner to resign, including several prominent fellow Democrats.
—City News Service