Being mayor of San Diego has to be one of the best jobs in American politics: wonderful year-round climate, gorgeous beaches, great museums and zoo, funky little neighborhoods dotting the verdant hillsides and a tax base heavily supported by the military. And across the border with Mexico, Tijuana's problems make anyone running San Diego look like an urban genius.
No wonder Mayor Bob Filner is so desperately clinging to the job -- even though, according to a KGTV poll, 81 percent of the electorate wants him out of it, the city council voted unanimously in favor of his resignation and the state's top Democrats like former U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Barbara Boxer say he should go.
The problem is the mayor's Paleolithic approach to women. It might have worked during the Stone Age; now it's considered not only uncouth but, under certain circumstances, legally actionable.
So far, 16 women have come forward to say Filner acted inappropriately. Allegations range from inappropriate touching to his signature move: a headlock in which he'd try to force a kiss.
CNN added cryptically, "It gets even more graphic." The mayor was apparently an equal-opportunity groper. One of his alleged victims was a 67-year-old great-grandmother. Certainly, the younger set knows to steer clear of him. Filner has been banned from four San Diego-area Hooters franchises, restaurants described as "cleavage-themed" for their buxom waitresses in truncated T-shirts. Almost as prominently displayed in these establishments are signs saying, "The mayor of San Diego will not be served in this establishment."
Filner reportedly undertook two weeks of therapy for his problem but, for whatever reason, cut his stay short. If the abbreviated visit solves his problem, he will be credited with another of California's innovations: drive-through sex therapy.
Filner said he would be vindicated by "a full presentation of the facts." That statement of political bravado came out just as his former communications director was saying the mayor was unfit for public office.
Filner has been in secret negotiations, presumably regarding his future, with city officials and assorted lawyers, including the omnipresent feminist Gloria Allred, who is representing one of the aggrieved women.
One City Hall official notes that if Filner can hang on to the end of the year, his pension benefits will increase significantly.
Meanwhile, the city has changed the locks on the mayor's office, apparently to no avail. It proves the adage, as if further proof were needed: Some guys just can't take a hint.
Dale McFeatters is a senior writer for the Scripps Howard News Service.