By James R. Riffel
SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The spearhead of a drive to recall San Diego Mayor Bob Filner announced Monday that his campaign was officially underway, and he called for the leader of a competing effort to withdraw within 24 hours.
“We have to rid the city of this mayor,” land use consultant Michael Pallamary said at a news conference. “He is committed to destroying this city day by day and hour by hour.”
His recall effort is the second filed against Filner, behind that of Stampp Corbin, the owner and publisher of LGBT Weekly. He has been accused of trying to derail Palamary’s campaign because it’s unclear whether it’s legal to have two recall bids that target the same elected official.
An opinion on that question by the City Attorney's Office is expected later this week.
Pallamary said tactics like Corbin’s are “standard practice” and not unexpected. He gave Corbin, who he hasn’t spoken to, 24 hours to drop his campaign or he would file a complaint with the District Attorney’s Office, charging him with violations of the state elections code.
A help-wanted advertisement on Craigslist to hire petition circulators for a recall effort is also phony, he said.
City Clerk Elizabeth Maland said Pallamary filed a recall notice with the clerk’s office, and participants will be able to start collecting recall petition signatures Aug. 18.
In a legal notice published Sunday, he wrote that Filner should be recalled because his office took $100,000 from a developer to switch positions on setbacks for a Kearny Mesa apartment complex - money that was later returned.
The notice also accused Filner of having his San Diego police security team accompany him at taxpayer expense on a personal visit to Paris, ignoring City Council votes, being divisive and disruptive and using a police officer to kick one of the city’s top lawyers out of a closed-session meeting, among other things.
“Mayor Filner has created chaos and a hostile environment since taking office,” Pallamary wrote in the notice.
With respect to sexual harassment allegations that have dogged Filner for more than two weeks, Pallamary noted that the mayor has failed to maintain the dignity of the mayor's office, has created liability for the city and “does not have the respect of the majority of the members of the City Council.”
Maland said Pallamary will have until Sept. 26 to collect nearly 102,000 valid signatures on his recall petitions, equal to 15 percent of the registered voters in San Diego.
City Council President Todd Gloria said in a radio interview Monday that the effort to remove Filner from office has revealed flaws in the City Charter regarding San Diego's form of government, which was adopted by voters and took effect in 2006.
Beside the question of whether simultaneous recall efforts are legal, Gloria told KPBS that the City Council can’t impeach the mayor, who can only leave office if he dies, resigns, is recalled or is convicted of a felony.
Council members also can’t remove a mayor who becomes physically unable to continue in office, he said.
Amendments to the City Charter might be put before the voters to correct the situation, but that may not be until next year, according to Gloria.
“I want to be cautious because institutions are designed to withstand personalities and we have a difficult personality now,” Gloria said. “We shouldn't make any radical changes based on one person.”
The City Council likely will have to amend the municipal code on recall elections, which requires voters to answer the recall question for their selection of a replacement candidate to be counted. A similar state law was struck down a decade ago.
If the council members change the recall code section, however, it would require Filner’s signature to take effect.