Mayor's chief of staff Vince Hall resigns - San Diego, California News Station - KFMB Channel 8 - cbs8.com

Mayor's chief of staff Vince Hall resigns

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This Nov. 7, 2012 file photo shows San Diego Mayor Bob Filner smiling during a news conference at a park in San Diego. This Nov. 7, 2012 file photo shows San Diego Mayor Bob Filner smiling during a news conference at a park in San Diego.
Former Councilwoman Donna Frye and attorney Cory Briggs speak with reporters on the allegations made from victims about the San Diego Mayor Bob Filner, Thursday, July 11, 2013 in San Diego. Former Councilwoman Donna Frye and attorney Cory Briggs speak with reporters on the allegations made from victims about the San Diego Mayor Bob Filner, Thursday, July 11, 2013 in San Diego.
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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Mayor Bob Filner's chief of staff stepped down Friday, shortly after three prominent San Diego-area elected officials joined the growing list of those calling for the mayor's resignation amid allegations of sexual harassment.

Longtime Filner aide Vince Hall, who was appointed as chief of staff shortly after the mayor took office in early December, announced his resignation via Twitter.

"As a lifelong activist for women's rights and equality, I feel I must resign effective today," Hall wrote.

Earlier in the day, City Council President Todd Gloria called for the mayor to step down, as did Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez and Assembly Majority Leader Toni Atkins, D-San Diego.

Gloria said although Filner's admittance of "unacceptable behavior" was the right thing to do, he did not believe that Filner could "effectively continue as mayor of San Diego after these admissions."

"I don't currently know the full extent or impact of his behavior, but I do know this: The people of San Diego, and especially those women he has mistreated, need to be assured that we as a city will not tolerate intimidation and harassment," Gloria said. "An apology is not enough. In recognition of the gravity of the situation he created, and for the good of the city he pledged to serve, Mayor Filner should step down."

His request for Filner's resignation was not based on past disagreements on policy issues, but on the severity of the allegations and the legal and financial risk they pose to the city, Gloria said.

"Our city government cannot maintain the full faith and trust of the people of San Diego if Mayor Filner continues to serve in this office," he said.

Gonzalez told reporters there's a time and a place when someone is no longer fit to be a boss, and given the allegations she had heard, Filner had reached that point.

"I hope that he will spare us all a lengthy process. I hope he'll spare the victims the need to go through a legal process and do the right thing and simply resign," Gonzalez said.

Atkins joined Gonzalez at the State Building, saying it pained her to call for the mayor's resignation because she had supported his vision of progress for the city. But as a leader, she has a responsibility to her constituents and to the city employees to "take a stand on the behalf of individuals who may not be able to come forward," Atkins said.

"It is with strong resolve that I call for Mayor Bob Filner to either come forward and declare his innocence or resign immediately," Atkins said. "Sexual harassment is incompatible with public service."

Three other former Filner supporters who repeatedly called for him to resign this week amid the sexual harassment allegations are standing by their demands, in spite of the public apology he issued late Thursday, one of them said.

Attorney Marco Gonzalez said via a Twitter posting that he, ex-Councilwoman Donna Frye and attorney Cory Briggs "stand by (their) original demand, video notwithstanding." He said additional information would be provided next week.

The trio sent letters to the mayor earlier this week urging him to step down, and reiterated their call in a news conference Thursday morning, although they declined to release details of the claims.

Filner released a statement via DVD that stated in part, "I am embarrassed to admit that I have failed to fully respect the women who work for me and with me, and that at times I have intimidated them."

The mayor said he had started working with professionals to make changes in his behavior and approach, and would participate in sexual harassment training.

THIS IS A STORY UPDATE. For an earlier version, read below.

SAN DIEGO (AP) — The week began with news that Mayor Bob Filner's fiancee ended their engagement and, by Friday, San Diego's first Democratic leader in 20 years was desperately trying to stay in office amid sexual harassment allegations made public by some of his closest supporters. He apologized, promised to change and begged voters to let him keep his job.

The rapid-fire developments put heavy scrutiny on the personal foibles of Filner, a feisty liberal who was elected in November after 10 terms in Congress marked perhaps most famously by a 2007 run-in with a United Airlines baggage handler at Dulles International Airport that resulted in him pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge of trespassing.

Filner has long had a reputation for berating employees and been dogged by rumors of making sexual advances on women, but nothing stuck like a former city councilwoman's comments this week that she had firsthand accounts from more than one woman who was sexually harassed by the mayor.

Donna Frye, who worked briefly for the mayor as his director of open government, didn't provide any specifics at an emotional news conference Thursday, like the nature of the alleged abuse, when it occurred and how often. But she demanded Filner resign, saying, "There is no doubt in my mind that these allegations are true."

Filner, 70, didn't address specifics of his behavior either in an extraordinary video he released hours later that made clear he knew his career was gravely threatened, saying, "I need help."

"If my behavior doesn't change, I cannot succeed in leading our city," he said.

Filner, who is divorced, said he will personally apologize to current and former employees, both men and women.

"It is a good thing that behavior that would have been tolerated in the past is being called out in this generation for what it is: inappropriate and wrong," he said.

In a follow-up statement late Friday, Filner said an email had been sent to all city employees promising a "full, complete and independent investigation in response to any formal complaint against me."

He added, however, that he expects to be exonerated.

"I am confident that a fair and independent investigation will support my innocence with respect to any charges of sexual harassment," Filner said.

Frye, who said she wouldn't seek Filner's job, reaffirmed her demand Friday that Filner resign, according to a tweet by Marco Gonzalez, an environmental attorney who spoke alongside the former councilwoman in urging him to step down.

"Additional information to be provided next week," Gonzalez wrote.

Frye is highly influential with Filner's base, and the mayor needs all the friends he can get after alienating many key players during his brief tenure.

"Bob takes on way too many battles at the same time and doesn't know how fight a one-front war," said Steve Erie, a political science professor at University of California, San Diego. "He's fighting a multi-front war — the City Council, the city attorney, developers, hoteliers."

Filner struck a five-year labor agreement with city unions and opened a city of San Diego office in Tijuana to strengthen ties with the Mexican border city, but his behavior now overshadows those and other accomplishments.

In February, he crashed City Attorney Jan Goldsmith's news conference about tourism marketing revenue, commandeered the podium, and accused the elected official of "unethical and unprofessional conduct" for scrutinizing the mayor's position through the news media. Last month, he ordered a Goldsmith deputy to leave a closed-door City Council meeting, saying the attorney spoke without being recognized and refused to sit down when told.

His deputy chief of staff recently resigned at a staff meeting over what Filner called disagreements about how he was running the office. When Filner asked if anyone else in the room wanted out, his communications director came forward.

In a rare moment last month, Filner questioned his behavior, saying, "Anybody who's intelligent would have to undergo some self-examination." Yet he said during the same regular monthly news conference that the staff defections were normal occurrences under a demanding boss and faulted the news media for its coverage.

"It's a high-pressure, high-tension situation, and some people can adapt, some people can't," he said.

When he was 18, the Pittsburgh native spent two months in a Mississippi jail in 1961 after joining the Freedom Riders in their civil rights campaign against segregation in the South. The history professor went on to serve on the San Diego school board and City Council.

In Congress, he became chair the House Veterans Affairs Committee, launching a profanity-laced tirade against an official in 2007 over a failure to protect veterans' personal data from computer theft. He was never a major player in Washington and, unlike his current job, labored largely outside the media spotlight.

"In order to become a part of the (House) leadership, you've got to get along with people and he's a hard person to get along with" said Chris Crotty, a Democratic political consultant.

Crotty, who has known Filner more than 20 years, said Filner repeatedly wins elections because he delivers services that matter to constituents, like retirement benefits for a large population of Filipino veterans of World War II in his district.

Whether Filner can survive as mayor is a guessing game that may hinge on whether specifics emerge on the harassment allegations. He canceled a weekend appearance at the city's gay pride parade, saying he didn't want to be a distraction.

Crotty thinks Filner's supporters will accept his apology, barring new disclosures. Carl Luna, a political science professor at San Diego's Mesa College, believes there is an 80 percent chance Filner will be forced out.

"Everybody knew he had a tendency to be ... somewhat jerkish and that he was no stranger to female companionship," Luna said. "It just finally caught up with him."

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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