SAN DIEGO (CNS/CBS8) - Bob Filner was likely spending his final full day as San Diego's mayor today, with a pending partial settlement of sexual harassment claims against him expected to include his resignation.
A News 8 camera exclusively captured Filner slipping out a back exit of City Hall Thursday afternoon, a briefcase in each hand, as he got into the back of a silver sedan and was driven away. On Wednesday night, Filner was spotted leaving City Hall with what appeared to be several boxes loaded into the back seat.
Multiple news outlets, citing various anonymous sources close to the negotiations, reported that Filner will step down as early as tomorrow, when the City Council is scheduled to consider a deal brokered over three days of negotiations.
If the 70-year-old former congressman does leave office, it would not be official until the City Clerk's Office receives a resignation letter, according to the City Charter.
City Council President Todd Gloria would become interim mayor. A special election would be held within 90 days. If no single candidate received more than 50 percent of the vote, a runoff would be held between the top two vote- getters.
It did not appear that the mayor, who's been accused of sexual harassment by 18 women, was working at the City Administration Building today. He was not seen during a mid-morning fire drill that resulted in the building's evacuation.
On Wednesday, he returned to work for the first time in about three weeks and was seen taking boxes to his vehicle that night.
Some reports indicated that as part of the negotiated settlement and in exchange for Filner's resignation, the city would foot the bill for at least a portion of any damages awarded in a lawsuit filed against him and the city by one of the mayor's accusers.
Gloria Allred, the Los Angeles-based lawyer for the woman who filed the lawsuit, former mayoral communications director Irene McCormack Jackson, said she has not seen details of the mediation agreement, and urged the City Council to reject any deal directing city funds to the mayor.
"The mayor's resignation should not be bought at the expense of his victims," Allred said.
Council members, who have not heard or seen the tentative agreement, will review the proposed settlement in its closed session meeting at 1 p.m. Friday. Immediately after the closed session ends, council members will be allowed to speak about what, if any, actions were taken, paving the way for agreement details to be discussed.
"I'm going back to the comments of our city attorney yesterday cautioning people from reading too much or believing rumors," the council president said at a news conference on another subject.
"We are going to have this heard tomorrow, in closed session, about 1 p.m., and the council will be briefed on the subject matter and then whatever decision is made will be reported out to the public," Gloria said.
The mediation was overseen by retired federal judge J. Lawrence Irving, with sessions taking place in a downtown high-rise on Monday, Tuesday and late Wednesday. Participants included Filner, Goldsmith, Gloria and Councilman Kevin Faulconer.
Allred was present Monday and otherwise took part by phone.
McCormack Jackson was hired as Filner's communications director in January and filed suit against the city and Filner in mid-July, alleging he told her she should work without her panties on, that he wanted to see her naked and that he could not wait to consummate their relationship.
Filner also allegedly demanded kisses from McCormack Jackson and put his arm around the former reporter and dragged her along in a headlock while making sexual remarks.
Filner's last scheduled public appearance was a July 26 news conference in which he announced he would enter an inpatient behavioral therapy program. His lawyer has said Filner completed the program earlier this month and was continuing treatment on an outpatient basis.
Since McCormack Jackson became the first to accuse Filner of sexual harassment, 17 other women have come forward to allege unwanted advances, groping or, in some instances, forced kissing from the mayor. They include a retired admiral and two veterans who say they were harassed at a meeting for women who had been raped during their military service.
Filner has apologized publicly for what he called a failure to respect women and for "intimidating conduct," but denied his actions amounted to sexual harassment.
Filner, who is also mired in investigations over alleged misuse of city- issued credit cards and alleged shakedowns of developers, rebuffed calls from all nine City Council members, other officeholders and business leaders to resign. However, his exit from office was widely reported to be on the table in the mediation process.
Nevertheless, organizers of an effort to recall Filner continued to circulate petitions around the city for the fifth consecutive day. They need to turn in nearly 102,000 signatures to the City Clerk's Office by Sept. 26 to put the recall bid before voters.
Recall spokeswoman Rachel Laing said more than 11,000 signatures have been collected. Recall campaign Chairman Mike Pallamary said in a statement that the signature-gathering effort would continue until Filner's departure is "certain" and a special election is scheduled.
Jan Caldwell, a San Diego sheriff's spokeswoman, said a hotline set up for victims to call would remain in operation.
"It's our dedicated phone line, so when people don't call we will discontinue," Caldwell said.
She refused to discuss the status of an investigation into claims received via the hotline, or say whether a case has or will be presented to the state Attorney General's Office.