Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage from

Will 'Mayor Naughty' please step down?

By Ruben Navarrette, CNN Contributor
updated 11:24 AM EDT, Wed August 21, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Ruben Navarrette: 80% of San Diegans want embarrassing Mayor Bob Filner to resign
  • So far, 16 women accuse Filner of sexual harassment, inappropriate touching
  • Navarrette calls him a narcissist who wants to lead so badly he doesn't care no one wants him
  • He says Filner could drag Democratic Party down with him, and give county back to GOP

Editor's note: Ruben Navarrette is a CNN contributor and a nationally syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group. Follow him on Twitter: @rubennavarrette

San Diego, California (CNN) -- As much of the country deals with heat waves, the temperature in this coastal city rarely exceeds 75 degrees. Don't you want to be in San Diego?

Really? You might want to re-think that. It's not a good time. The circus came to town several weeks ago, and now it refuses to leave.

One of America's finest cities is being held hostage. What are we supposed to do? Call the mayor? That won't do any good. He's the one holding us hostage.

Bob Filner, national punchline and catnip for late-night talk show hosts, has been accused of sexual harassment, inappropriate touching, lewd comments and other boorish behavior by -- at last count -- 17 women. One woman who accused him of making inappropriate comments -- apparently about his sexual stamina -- was a 67-year-old great-grandmother.

I had snarkily predicted that we'd get to 20 women by Labor Day. Now, the way it's been going, we could hit that figure by the end of business today.

Opinion: No room for lecherous mayors

The 70-year-old is no longer just a weirdo with what he admits is a problem (he recently underwent what we are assured was intensive behavioral therapy). In recent days, it's been revealed that he's a first-class narcissist who wants to lead this city so badly that it is of little concern to him that very few people still want to follow. Forget that, like most politicians, he rode into office on assurances that he was doing it all to help the less fortunate. Now we know the truth: It's all about Bob.

Most of his supporters have deserted him. A new poll shows about 80% of San Diegans want him to resign. A recall effort has begun with volunteers hoping to collect more than 100,000 signatures by September 26.

And all the while, Mayor Naughty fiddles. Filner isn't exactly cleaning out his office. He doesn't seem to care what anyone thinks about him. He won't leave, and it might just be that -- even with all the pressure being applied -- we can't make him leave. Even if Filner is recalled, he's likely to challenge the legality of the action. After all, he could argue, he's innocent until proven guilty. Where is his due process?

Don't be surprised if some Republicans start saying the same thing. They'd like to drag this sordid affair out as long as possible. Since the beginning of this soap opera by the sea, the loudest voices clamoring for Filner to leave have belonged to his fellow Democrats.

San Diego mayor supporters speak out
Effort to recall Mayor Filner starts
New claims against Bob Filner

They know what's at stake. San Diego County is a red county that is turning purple as the number of Democrats grows, thanks to changing demographics. Filner could drag his party down with him, and send the county back into the Republican column for another generation.

Mayor Filner's accusers

Even the Democratic National Committee is ratcheting up pressure on the mayor with a vote on a resolution planned this week calling on him to resign.

How embarrassing are the Filner follies? Try this on for size: Hooters restaurants in San Diego have banned the mayor because, according to the management, Filner doesn't respect women. What do you do when you're deemed morally deficient by a restaurant chain that made a fortune off the concept of waitresses serving up hot wings in tight shorts and cleavage-baring T-shirts?

In Filner's case, you go on with business as usual. You ignore calls to step down, from the entire San Diego City Council and a host of elected officials, including Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer of California.

This week, the mayor ducked into a downtown office building for settlement talks with Irene McCormack Jackson, his former communications director, and her lawyer Gloria Allred. McCormack Jackson, who was the first woman to publicly accuse Filner of wrongdoing, has filed a lawsuit claiming the mayor told her to work without panties, tried to kiss her, told her he wanted to see her naked and put her in a headlock.

One of the issues still unresolved is just who would pay a settlement if one were reached -- Filner or the city? City officials have made it clear they aren't eager to foot the bill for Filner's alleged misbehavior, but they seem to be keeping that door open if it will help get the embattled mayor into an early retirement.

Filner does still have a few supporters. This week, several dozen of them staged a protest to try to dissuade people from signing the recall petitions.

One activist took to the microphone to denounce the "witchcraft, uh, witchhunt" going after Filner, who she insisted was a good man and a champion for the downtrodden.

"He was a Freedom Rider," she said. "He fought for immigration. He is far more than sloppy kisses."

Out of rehab, but locked out of office

And that's a defender?

Have mercy on the hostages. Great weather notwithstanding, at the moment, it's hard to imagine that any city in America is more uncomfortable than this one.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Ruben Navarrette.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 5:01 PM EDT, Wed October 22, 2014
Paul Callan says the grand jury is the right process to use to decide if charges should be brought against the police officer
updated 12:19 PM EDT, Thu October 23, 2014
Theresa Brown says the Ebola crisis brought nurses into the national conversation on health care. They need to stay there.
updated 6:35 PM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
Patrick Hornbeck says don't buy the hype: The arguments the Vatican used in its interim report would have virtually guaranteed that same-sex couples remained second class citizens
updated 9:36 AM EDT, Fri October 24, 2014
Paul Begala says Iowa's U.S. Senate candidate, Joni Ernst, told NRA she has right to use gun to defend herself--even from the government. But shooting at officials is not what the Founders had in mind
updated 6:08 PM EDT, Thu October 23, 2014
John Sutter: Why are we so surprised the head of a major international corporation learned another language?
updated 5:54 PM EDT, Thu October 23, 2014
Jason Johnson says Ferguson isn't a downtrodden community rising up against the white oppressor, but it is looking for justice
updated 12:21 PM EDT, Fri October 24, 2014
Sally Kohn says a video of little girls dressed as princesses using the F-word very loudly to condemn sexism is provocative. But is it exploitative?
updated 4:06 PM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
Timothy Stanley says Lewinsky is shamelessly playing the victim in her affair with Bill Clinton, humiliating Hillary Clinton again and aiding her critics
updated 10:14 AM EDT, Thu October 23, 2014
Imagine being rescued from modern slavery, only to be charged with a crime, writes John Sutter
updated 12:00 PM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
Tidal flooding used to be a relatively rare occurrence along the East Coast. Not anymore, write Melanie Fitzpatrick and Erika Spanger-Siegfried.
updated 7:35 AM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
Carol Costello says activists, writers, politicians have begun discussing their abortions. But will that new approach make a difference on an old battleground?
updated 9:12 AM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
Sigrid Fry-Revere says the National Organ Transplant Act has caused more Americans to die waiting for an organ than died in both World Wars, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq
updated 2:51 PM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
Crystal Wright says racist remarks like those made by black Republican actress Stacey Dash do nothing to get blacks to join the GOP
updated 6:07 PM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
Mel Robbins says by telling her story, Monica Lewinsky offers a lesson in confronting humiliating mistakes while keeping her head held high
updated 9:29 AM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
Cornell Belcher says the story of the "tea party wave" in 2010 was bogus; it was an election determined by ebbing Democratic turnout
updated 4:12 PM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
Les Abend says pilots want protocols, preparation and checklists for all contingencies; at the moment, controlling a deadly disease is out of their comfort zone
updated 11:36 PM EDT, Sun October 19, 2014
David Weinberger says an online controversy that snowballed from a misogynist attack by gamers into a culture war is a preview of the way news is handled in a world of hashtag-fueled scandal
updated 8:23 AM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
Julian Zelizer says Paul Krugman makes some good points in his defense of President Obama but is premature in calling him one of the most successful presidents.
updated 10:21 PM EDT, Sun October 19, 2014
Conservatives can't bash and slash government and then suddenly act surprised if government isn't there when we need it, writes Sally Kohn
updated 8:05 AM EDT, Wed October 22, 2014
ISIS is looking to take over a good chunk of the Middle East -- if not the entire Muslim world, write Peter Bergen and Emily Schneider.
updated 9:00 AM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
The world's response to Ebola is its own sort of tragedy, writes John Sutter
updated 4:33 PM EDT, Fri October 17, 2014
Hidden away in Russian orphanages are thousands of children with disabilities who aren't orphans, whose harmful treatment has long been hidden from public view, writes Andrea Mazzarino
updated 1:22 PM EDT, Sat October 18, 2014
When you hear "trick or treat" this year, think "nudge," writes John Bare
updated 12:42 AM EDT, Sat October 18, 2014
The more than 200 kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls have become pawns in a larger drama, writes Richard Joseph.
updated 9:45 AM EDT, Fri October 17, 2014
Peggy Drexler said Amal Alamuddin was accused of buying into the patriarchy when she changed her name to Clooney. But that was her choice.
updated 4:43 PM EDT, Thu October 16, 2014
Ford Vox says the CDC's Thomas Frieden is a good man with a stellar resume who has shown he lacks the unique talents and vision needed to confront the Ebola crisis
updated 4:58 AM EDT, Sat October 18, 2014
How can such a numerically small force as ISIS take control of vast swathes of Syria and Iraq?
updated 9:42 AM EDT, Fri October 17, 2014
How big a threat do foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq pose to the West? It's a question that has been much on the mind of policymakers and commentators.
updated 8:21 AM EDT, Fri October 17, 2014
More than a quarter-million American women served honorably in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Now they are home, we have an obligation to help them transition back to civilian life.
updated 4:27 PM EDT, Thu October 16, 2014
Paul Begala says Rick Scott's deeply weird refusal to begin a debate because rival Charlie Crist had a fan under his podium spells disaster for the Florida governor--delighting Crist
updated 12:07 AM EDT, Thu October 16, 2014
The longer we wait to engage on Ebola, the more limited our options will become, says Marco Rubio.
updated 7:53 AM EDT, Wed October 15, 2014
Democratic candidates who run from President Obama in red states where he is unpopular are making a big mistake, says Donna Brazile
updated 12:29 AM EDT, Thu October 16, 2014
At some 7 billion people, the world can sometimes seem like a crowded place. But if the latest estimates are to be believed, then in less than a century it is going to feel even more so -- about 50% more crowded, says Evan Fraser
updated 12:53 PM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
Paul Callan says the Ebola situation is pointing up the need for better leadership
updated 6:45 PM EDT, Wed October 15, 2014
Nurses are the unsung heroes of the Ebola outbreak. Yet, there are troubling signs we're failing them, says John Sutter
updated 1:00 PM EDT, Wed October 15, 2014
Dean Obeidallah says it's a mistake to give up a business name you've invested energy in, just because of a new terrorist group
updated 7:01 PM EDT, Wed October 15, 2014
Fear of Ebola is contagious, writes Mel Robbins; but it's time to put the disease in perspective
updated 1:44 PM EDT, Tue October 14, 2014
Oliver Kershaw says that if Big Tobacco is given monopoly of e-cigarette products, public health will suffer.
updated 9:35 AM EDT, Sat October 18, 2014
Stop thinking your job will make you happy.
updated 10:08 PM EDT, Tue October 14, 2014
Ruben Navarrette says it's time to deal with another scandal involving the Secret Service — one that leads directly into the White House.
updated 7:25 AM EDT, Tue October 14, 2014
Americans who choose to fight for militant groups or support them are young and likely to be active in jihadist social media, says Peter Bergen
updated 9:03 AM EDT, Mon October 13, 2014
Stephanie Coontz says 11 years ago only one state allowed same sex marriage. Soon, some 60% of Americans will live where gays can marry. How did attitudes change so quickly?
updated 4:04 PM EDT, Tue October 14, 2014
Legalizing assisted suicide seems acceptable when focusing on individuals. But such laws would put many at risk of immense harm, writes Marilyn Golden.
updated 9:07 AM EDT, Mon October 13, 2014
Julian Zelizer says the issues are huge, but both parties are wrestling with problems that alienate voters
updated 6:50 PM EDT, Mon October 13, 2014
Mel Robbins says the town's school chief was right to cancel the season, but that's just the beginning of what needs to be done
updated 11:43 AM EDT, Sat October 11, 2014
He didn't discover that the world was round, David Perry writes. So what did he do?
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT