Mayor Filner Still Thinks He Can Lead the City: Chief of Staff

His chief of staff recalls how she advised the mayor he could no longer yell and scream to achieve his vision

Further proof that San Diego Mayor Bob Filner is going to dig in his heels and fight a recall  was offered at a Lions Club luncheon Tuesday.

The guest speaker was the chief of staff for Mayor Filner, who has refused repeated requests for an interview with NBC 7.

On this day however, Lee Burdick agreed to answer questions from Lions Club members about that and more including the potential outcome of the scandal that has consumed the city of San Diego for more than a month and the theory suggested by some that it's all simply a witch hunt.

The most important question of the day though was about how, despite the numerous allegations and investigations, the mayor can think he is still capable of leading the city.

“I don’t know if you know this but the mayor has not resigned yet,“ Burdick said. “Yes, he does believe he has the way to achieve the objective laid out in his vision.”

Burdick did retract the “yet” part of that statement later but she was serious about the mayor believing he can still do the job despite calls to resign from the City Council, former mayor Jerry Sanders, Democratic party leadership, longtime supporters, state legislators and San Diego’s U.S. Congressional leadership.

While he won't resign, she told the mayor he'll have to change his tactics.

“You’re not going to be able to powerhouse your way through your agenda anymore,” Burdick recalled her advice to Filner.

“You’re not going to be able to scream and yell at the council. You’re not going to be able to threaten them with a sustainable veto,” she told him.

However, the response from city leaders over the mayor's reply to the recall Monday suggests any working relationship may be beyond repair.

Council President Todd Gloria criticized the mayor for ignoring the calls to resign and sending a message that he wants to move the city forward.

“Bob Filner’s response to the recall effort shows that he just doesn’t get it," Gloria said

City Councilmember Scott Sherman said he was so disgusted by the mayor’s statement Monday that he’ll never call Filner mayor again.

“I mean there's a certain amount of respect that comes with the title,” Sherman said. “From now on it's just Bob, or the defendant.”

Burdick says despite how City Councilmembers feel about the mayor as a person, she’s confident that they will do what’s right for the citizens.

As for changing the locks at the mayor’s office late Friday afternoon, Burdick explained she was concerned that the office was open at night. 

“So I unilaterally made the decision to lock the mayor’s office to preserve the integrity of the office in his absence,” she said adding that San Diego Police Chief William Landsdowne has the keys and will give them to Mayor Filner when he returns.

Burdick also addressed the theory posed by some who claim the mayor’s legal troubles – from the civil lawsuit alleging sexual harassment to the criminal investigation being handled by the San Diego County Sheriff's Department to the federal investigation into some deals with developers – are the result of a conspiracy planted by political opponents.

“I could not in good conscience suggest this is a witch hunt driven by political motivations that breach
deep down into the roots of a conspiracy theory,” she said.

“I think we all have to accept that the allegations are very serious and are worthy of a very thorough investigation.”

However even she said it’s impossible to predict how this will end.

“The scenarios of how this could work out is [sic] more complicated than a Rubik’s Cube,” she said. 

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