Faced with multiple accusations of sexual harassment and associated legal concerns, former San Diego Mayor Bob Filner reluctantly made the decision to step down.
While he might have deserved a modicum of respect for ultimately sparing his city the embarrassment of seeing its mayor on trial, even his resignation is mired in controversy.
Reports indicate that Filner approved generous salary bumps for his loyal staffers in the days leading up to his self-imposed ouster. In all, seven employees received a portion of $86,000 in raises.
His press secretary fared best, receiving a pay increase of nearly $33,000 between July and August. Lena Lewis now brings home a cool $115,000 per year. Other top aides received year-over-year raises of up to $15,000.
While Felipe Monroig, president of the San Diego County Taxpayers Association, said he is “not aware of any illegality from doing this,” he said that the timing and circumstances surrounding his decision suggests impropriety.
“I think it’s wrong,” he said bluntly.
City Councilman Scott Sherman took the criticism one step further, suggesting that Filner appears to be “paying off those who enabled him while he was in office.”
He said that the pay increases could be justified, though the ex-mayor has not given his constituents any reason to extend benefit of the doubt.
“Knowing everything we know about Bob Filner up to this point,” he said, “for these things to be given out while he’s walking out the door is a little suspicious.”
For his part, Interim Mayor Todd Gloria is concerned with bringing some credibility back to his office, explaining that he has rolled back virtually all of Filner’s pay hikes.
“[T]his happened as I was coming into office and my predecessor decided to increase the salaries and hire more poeple and try to use up the budget that was there for me; and, so that’s really unfortunate,” he said. “You know that shouldn’t happen.”
He said that the move is just one of many he has planned in his effort to “clean up the mess that was left behind” by Filner.
Ever the sleazy politician, Filner proved that his indescretions are not limited to the sexual variety. Even as he disgracefully returned to private life, he could not resist spitting in the face of those who elected him by rewarding his friends with someone else’s money.