San Diego's "mayor under fire" has just issued a defiant response to the campaign to recall him from office.
But that may not necessarily mean that resignation is out of the question for Bob Filner.
Word circulating in high-level political circles is that his closest remaining aides have recommended that he step down.
What would be a potential exit strategy?
Legal analysts are using the phrase "global settlement" – his leaving office in return for concessions and assurances involving ongoing criminal investigations and civil litigation surrounding the mayor.
Late Tuesday night, Filner met a City Charter deadline to respond to recall activists.
To critics, his statement reads like "Bob Filner's Greatest Hits" – a laundry list he sees as highlights during his eight-month tenure -- not a rebuttal to the complaints against him.
Council President Todd Gloria said the eight-paragraph response, limited by Charter to 300 words, "shows that he just doesn't get it."
“Unacceptable” is how recall co-organizer Michael Pallamary judged it.
“It was all, in my opinion, just pablum," said City Councilman Scott Sherman. “Bob's a narcissist. He's going to hold onto power every way he can … I will never call him 'Mayor'. I mean, there's a certain amount of respect that goes into the job, and he doesn't deserve the title. So now it's just 'Bob'. Or, 'The Defendant', one of the two."
Meantime, the drumbeat of fundraising and recruiting continues behind recall efforts to gather nearly 102,000 city voters' signatures in at least a 39-day period starting next week.
In an NBC 7 interview Tuesday, veteran criminal defense attorney Jan Ronis said that while Filner faces pressures from potentially “catastrophic” legal fees and "legacy” issues, he has a legal bargaining chip – because the federal, state and local law enforcement agencies and civil plaintiffs’ attorneys developing cases against him may not be able to make them stick in court.
"He has to do a cost-benefit analysis of what's in his best interest, even if he does have a defense in these things,” Ronis observed. “Does he have to worry about his financial security, as opposed to his reputation?"
Ronis says a resignation agreement must be based on a sound legal endgame.
"One of the things they would have to include is that the city would have to indemnify him -- both for his legal costs of defense to these various lawsuit being filed against him, and in the event there's a judgment they'd have to indemnify him as well,” he explained “So it would really be a complex global settlement -- but I assume do-able, just take a lot of work getting there and then it would take the agreement of all the parties …
"It seems to me it's in everybody's best interest if the mayor is desirous of doing that -- and they want to make that presentation. It's in everybody's best interest to sign on."
A special, stand-alone recall election could cost taxpayers well over $3 million, according to early estimates by the Registrar of Voters.
That may explain why City Attorney Jan Goldsmith recently has spoken of giving Filner "an out".
But how can the mayor drag his feet, before an atmosphere of “Let’s Make a Deal” is off the table?