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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.

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