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Laura Fink

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Mayor Bob Filner - A Former Freedom Rider Breaks Bad

Posted: 07/26/2013 12:42 pm

Fighting for Us. For 20 years that has been Bob Filner's tagline. In 1961 he courageously took a bus to Jackson Mississippi to stand against racial discrimination as one of the first Freedom Riders. He wasn't a mayor or a Congressman. He was a 19-year-old student activist who chose to stand up to those in power in service of what was right.

I wonder what the student activist Bob Filner would have to say to Mayor Bob Filner today?

Mayor Bob Filner has admitted that he has "failed to fully respect women" and to having a "monster" inside him. He is facing lurid allegations of sexual harassment and possibly assault. The mounting evidence and increasing number of women coming forward suggests a pattern of harassment and intimidation that goes back years -- and possibly decades.

Filner harassed me in 2005, when I was serving as his Deputy Campaign Manager. I documented the event, demanding an apology and assurances that other women would not be subjected to the same behavior. He mumbled an apology to me, and proceeded to tell me that really, I just didn't understand.

Actually -- I understood perfectly. I understood that he was a five-term Congressman, and I was a young staffer in my first political job. I understood that his reputation for swift retribution and long grudges was well earned. I understood that victims in these situations are frequently not believed, dismissed, or attacked.

Inherently, I understood that this situation was about power.

Filner, as a student activist, understood that holding those in power accountable and confronting them when they were abusing that power was essential to achieving change. Congressman and Mayor Filner knows that he has power and, in his own words "can do whatever (he) want(s)."

His demonstrated and admitted abuse of his power extends to his unwillingness to resign in the face of a city paralyzed by this scandal he is responsible for. He has delegated all but the most ceremonial of duties to an unelected administrator. He is unable to meet alone with women -- staff, constituents or other elected leaders - on city property. He can't leverage the extensive powers of the executive to benefit San Diego and its citizens.

He has broken bad and is bringing the city down with him. What would Bob Filner the student activist say about Bob Filner the mayor? He would ask that he resign -- and might even get on a bus to demand it.

Bob Filner is no longer fighting for us -- he is fighting against us, and only for himself.

 
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