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San Diego City Council Considers Mayor's Resignation


To San Diego now where, after weeks of accusations of sexual harassment, apologies, denials, a lawsuit and a trip to a treatment center, the saga of Mayor Bob Filner may be coming to a close, or at least one chapter of it may be coming to a close. The San Diego City Council is in session, and it's considering a deal that would lead to Filner's resignation.

Sandhya Dirks of member station KPBS joins me now from San Diego City Hall. And, Sandhya, there have been reports of a resignation deal for a few days now. Where do things stand?

SANDHYA DIRKS, BYLINE: Right now, things sort of stand in limbo. We don't actually know what this deal that the city council has worked out with the mayor entails. There is a lot of speculation that it entails a pay-to-go-away type deal where they would give him something in order to get his resignation. And right now, I am actually standing right outside of the city council chamber where we just finished a public comment session that went on for about an hour.

BLOCK: And what's been going on at that session? What have those public comments been?

DIRKS: It's really emotional. You know, people were up there crying, and it was people on all sides. There are many people, especially minorities and the poor, who believe that Filner was this real progressive hero, and they really feel like they're about to lose that. And so they were up there still fighting for him.

On the other side, you had some of the victims speak. One of the women who came forward to accuse the mayor with alleged allegations of sexual harassment, Laura Fink, spoke, and she was crying when she said, look, the victims, the alleged victims, were hurt by this, and this mayor has to go. So it was just a really, really emotional and very historic, in a sense, as well.

BLOCK: I may have lost count, Sandhya, but I think at last count, there were 17 women who had come forward with these allegations?

DIRKS: Depends on who you talk to. Some say there are 18 because they just keep on creeping up at every moment. And they have very different stories to tell, and some people just say, look, he acted inappropriately, and some people say, no, it rose to the level of sexual harassment. But we keep hearing every week from more and more women who say the mayor went too far, and he used his power to abuse women.

BLOCK: Well, if there is a deal today and Mayor Filner does resign, what happens next?

DIRKS: Well, if he resigns, the city council president, Todd Gloria, takes over, and then we begin the process of a special election. There are 90 days from the letter - the date of the letter of resignation is written to actually have a special election. It's going to be a frenetic process if that is what happens. Ninety days isn't a lot of time in the political world. And so San Diego will basically be waiting to see what goes down.

We don't even know who could run at this point. So in a lot of ways, we're waiting for this decision to come out this evening whether or not this deal is going to pass, and then we'll know what might happen next.

BLOCK: And again, is the idea that the city would be on the hook for the mayor's legal fees?

DIRKS: That - the deal, as some has suggested, does imply that, that the city would have to actually pay some of his legal fees. The city itself is a complainant in the lawsuit. The city is also being sued.

BLOCK: OK. Reporter Sandhya Dirks of member station KPBS, thanks so much.

DIRKS: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

As special correspondent and guest host of NPR's news programs, Melissa Block brings her signature combination of warmth and incisive reporting. Her work over the decades has earned her journalism's highest honors, and has made her one of NPR's most familiar and beloved voices.
Sandhya Dirks arrived in Iowa in January of 2012 as a general assignment reporter. Since coming to Des Moines she has covered the Statehouse and traveled across Iowa to bring back stories for IPR. Sandhya was previously a reporter at KALW in San Francisco, covering education and criminal justice issues. Her work was awarded a SPJ Sigma Delta Chi and a regional Edward R. Murrow award.

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