Goodman: Therapy not enough for scandal-plagued mayor of San Diego

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Meredith Goodman, Summer Columnist

San Diego Mayor Bob Filner is embroiled in a sexual harassment scandal. A mayoral intern, a retired Navy admiral and a San Diego State University dean have all come forward and told stories of Filner acting inappropriately, including putting one of the women in a headlock and asking another to come to work without panties. Although Filner has admitted he needs help and will enter intensive therapy for the next two weeks, he will not step down.

In a video statement released July 11, Filner asks for San Diego citizens to “give [him] an opportunity to prove I am capable of change.” But Filner’s actions seem hollow, contradicting his actions. If Filner wants to show that he is truly dedicated to changing his inappropriate conduct toward women, he should resign from his position and fully focus and commit himself to intensive therapy.

It seems that Filner does not comprehend how truly reprehensible his behavior is. In his first television interview after his video statement, Filner explained that he is a “demonstrative person” and “a hugger.” But there is a clear difference between giving someone a high-five or a hug and groping them. And if the mayor can’t understand this, then he needs more than just two weeks of therapy.

In any other position, Filner would not be given a second chance. If he were a lower-level government employee, an intern or a private employee, he would be fired immediately. So why then would a mayor, especially one who makes decisions that affect hundreds of thousands of people, be spared from forcible resignation? If anything, a mayor should be held more responsible for his moral conduct than an average citizen.

Efforts are already underway to recall Filner. Fifteen percent of San Diego’s voting population will have to sign the petition to oust Filner, which equates to about 100,000 signatures. I have faith that San Diegans will jump at the chance to show Filner that sexual harassment will not be tolerated in city government.

But then again, a recall effort should not even have to take place. It angers me that a man who has paid lip service to correcting his actions is not fully committing to the recovery process. A 70-year-old who has dedicated himself to public service should be able to own up to his actions and realize that he should put his own self-improvement above his selfish need to govern the city. Hopefully San Diegans can give Filner the wake-up call he needs to resign and leave their city in more responsible hands.

Meredith Goodman is a rising Weinberg junior. She can be reached at [email protected]northwestern.edu. If you would like to respond publicly to this column, leave a comment or send a letter to the editor to [email protected].