After weeks of asking and then demanding that Mayor Bob Filner resign, San Diego’s city leaders are banding together to find a legal way to oust him from office.
“There’s at least the appearance of extreme recklessness,” City Council President Todd Gloria said while discussing the council’s next moves on NBC 7’s “Politically Speaking.”
He was referring to the alleged sexual misconduct that has dominated news headlines for weeks as well as the mayor’s permit approval process, credit card use and travel.
Gloria, Councilmember Scott Sherman and City Attorney Jan Goldsmith said they are working on a legal alternative to the recall campaign currently underway.
A section of the City Charter may be used to remove Filner from office amid allegations of sexual harassment and misuse of city funds.
“If this is a legal avenue that’s available to us and it meets the very high thresholds that should be in place then I think we may proceed with it,” Gloria said.
Filner charged nearly $1,000 on a city-issued credit card and has yet to reimburse the city Goldsmith said.
Councilmember Kevin Faulconer has called for an expansion into the investigation over $22,000 of charges on Filner’s credit card for a trip to Paris in June.
“We can’t figure out any city business that was conducted and we’ve been asking,” Goldsmith said of the Paris trip.
WATCH: "Politically Speaking" on Sunday, Aug. 18 at 9 a.m. PT
Municipal government expert Erik Bruvold from National University says it will be a tough sell to a judge.
“As I read Section 108 on its face, it’s designed for a situation of a city manager coming in and using the city treasury to buy a Maserati. Or a deputy director coming in and writing a check to support his personal business - clear cases of misuse of funds. Is charging a lunch on the company credit card, that type of action?” said Bruvold.
Bruvold doesn’t think it rises to that level. He also said attempting to remove the mayor utilizing that particular section of the city code may sway public opinion back in favor of Filner.
Mayor Filner has been absent from the public eye since he reportedly left therapy Aug. 10. His top aide said he’s taking some personal time before returning.
In that time, the City Attorney interviewed employees who were more willing to answer questions without the mayor’s presence.
Councilmember Scott Sherman described the mayor’s dealings with Centerpoint and Sunroad as “shaking down” businesses and developers.
“He does what he wants. He hopes he doesn’t get caught. If he does get caught, says he’s sorry, lies about it, blames somebody else and hopes it goes away,” Sherman said.
The City Council will be presented the case for Filner's removal in closed session on August 28 and if they sign off, it'll go to a "due process" hearing before the Presiding Judge of the Superior Court.
As Sherman suggested, a lengthy legal battle is sure to follow.
“I think the last mark that Bob Filner is going to leave on San Diego are those fingernail marks on the desk as they drag him kicking and screaming out of here,” Sherman said.