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Tuesday, Feb 11, 2014

San Diego to pay former top Filner aide $250,000 to settle sexual harassment lawsuit

Faulconer wins special election to replace disgraced former mayor; he may also emphasize cross-border issues

By David Gaddis Smith, MexicoPerspective

    Gloria Allred Irene McCormack Jackson The City of San Diego agreed Monday to pay $250,000 to a former top aide to ex-Mayor Bob Filner to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit. Irene McCormack Jackson was the first of many women to come forward with sexual harassment allegations against Filner, who resigned in August and later pleaded guilty to a charge of false imprisonment.
Photo: Irene McCormack Jackson (right) grasps Gloria Allred's hand while thanking her Tuesday.

     Tijuana's Frontera newspaper covered the development as a separate story accompanying an article on Tuesday's special election to replace Filner. El Mexicano, while reporting on the election, made no mention of the settlement in its Tuesday print edition, although it had run numerous previous reports on the case. Story, Frontera (PDF). Story, KPBS.

      Filner's strong push for cross-border ties was important for Tijuana, and he opened a liaison office in the city last year, with McCormack Jackson in attendance. San Diego Councilman David Alvarez, a Democrat who speaks Spanish and has attended numerous official events in Tijuana, likely would have moved to kevin faulconerstrengthen the Tijuana-San Diego relationship, but he lost Tuesday's special election to replace Filner to Republican Kevin Faulconer (right). Faulconer, who announced his candidacy in both in English and Spanish in September, Faulconer may also reach out to Tijuana, for various reasons, including an attempt to gain South County votes in anticipation of the 2016 election.

     Faulconer ads hammered on Alvarez's relatively young age, 33. Age also may have been a factor in the 2010 Tijuana mayoral campaign, when Carlos Torres Torres, then 34, lost to hotelier Carlos Bustamante (who was succeeded as mayor by Dr. Jorge Astiazarán last year). Mario López, the man Filner hired to head the liaison office in Tijuana, worked on both the Torres and Filner campaigns.

      McCormack Jackson, at a news conference in San Diego on Tuesday, expressed great thanks to her attorney, Gloria Allred, and to former San Diego councilwoman Donna Frye, who issued the initial call for Filner to resign. Frye briefly worked for Filner before resigning last year. "I came through this much stronger because of her friendship," McCormack Jackson said of Frye. "Her last day at the mayor's office was so sad for me, and starkly showed how obtuse and obstructive the office atmosphere was. Thanks for resigning, Donna. It showed me the way out."

       Other sexual harassment lawsuits involving Filner are still in the process.

San Diego Citybeat story on how Frye helped oust Filner.

Stories on how the Tijuana media covered the Filner debacle.

Update, Feb. 21: Mayor-elect Faulconer, in interview with U-T San Diego border reporter Sandra Dibble, discusses Mexico issues and says he will be keeping the Tijuana office open.

Update, March 6: López says he is leaving the border liaison office.