Mayor Filner, City Attorney Goldsmith in Political Tug o' War

Two San Diego city officials took a disagreement on how to spend a special tax and aired the dispute in a hostile and awkward exchange in front of news cameras at City Hall.

Mayor Bob Filner and City Attorney Jan Goldsmith didn’t mince words at a news conference Wednesday as the two described their differences of opinion over how to spend a special tax to promote the region as a vacation destination.

Hotels in San Diego collect about $30 million per year from guests by way of a special surcharge on rooms. It's a special 2-percent surtax on the city's basic room tax created by the industry in a private election.

Filner has problems with the agreement and has called for a shorter contract, living wages for downtown hotel workers and more money for the city's general fund.

NBC 7 San Diego reported Tuesday how the hotel industry was taking the mayor to court.

Hotel owners are seeking an emergency order to release the money immediately. They claim without it, the region would lose visitors to Los Angeles and Orange County.

Goldsmith called the media Thursday to address the mayor's four requests regarding the tax.

“I hope in the future we'll know about these issues and get consulted in advance but if I read them in the newspaper and they are wrong, I have to comment on them,” he said.

The mayor countered, “ I have no obligation to inform you of any policy decisions I make. You have the obligation as my attorney to give me private and privileged communication.”

Things got really heated when Mayor Filner took the podium and took over the news conference.

“You not only have been unprofessional but unethical in this press conference. I resent it greatly that you’re giving your advice through the press. This advice is to me. This advice is to the City Council and besides it’s wrong,” he said.

At one point Filner identified a member of Goldsmith’s staff and pestered her asking “Are you an attorney?”

Watch: Filner "Are You an Attorney?"

Goldsmith arguing he had not been consulted. Filner arguing he had not been advised.

Goldsmith spoke with NBC 7 San Diego after the news conference and said he is the attorney for the City of San Diego, not for the mayor. 

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