Mayor Filner’s recent sexual harassment problems awaken memories of the “Tongue-gate” scandal of the 1980s.
  • Mayor Filner’s recent sexual harassment problems awaken memories of the “Tongue-gate” scandal of the 1980s.
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It’s been a busy few weeks for sex-related allegations at San Diego city hall, thanks to the now self-admitted but unspecified indiscretions of Democratic mayor Bob Filner. If the mayor’s accusers ever emerge to confront him in court, or if reported FBI forays into Filner’s inner sanctum eventually bear fruit, the story may become even more colorful. But in the way of dining and lewd anecdotes, not much can compare with the saga of Uvaldo Martinez, a Republican city councilman back in the 1980s who seemed destined for greater things until he got caught up in what become known in some irreverent political circles as “Tongue-gate.”

Martinez’s political fate revolved around his habit of stopping in for dinner and drinks with male staffers at posh bistros and bars around the city, including downtown’s Dobson Restaurant, a longtime city hall watering hole for such luminaries as fallen GOP mayor Roger Hedgecock and imprisoned Democratic city councilman Ralph Inzunza. One night after work, Martinez and company ran into his campaign treasurer Bob Miller and city hall secretary Charlotte Sharpe, along with Westgate Hotel concierge Salima Din and her sister, Nardis. After beckoning the party upstairs, a visibly inebriated Martinez ordered bottles of champagne and food.

Later asked by a prosecutor whether the councilman knew he was “doing or saying anything you construed as lewd or suggestive?” Sharpe broke down in tears. “He sometimes does things with his tongue, just gestures.” On cross examination, according to an account in the San Diego Tribune, Martinez’s lawyer got Sharpe to say that the councilman’s behavior was due to his being under the influence and would be considered “out of character” for him in the office.

But rumors of sexual harassment were the least of the GOP councilman’s worries. In October 1986, he pled guilty to two felony counts of hitting city taxpayers with tabs for personal dinners and drinks at watering holes and resigned. Prosecutors alleged that Martinez had run up $1840 in charges on 20 occasions from November 1984 to June 1985 on his city-issued credit card. Martinez had submitted vouchers claiming he was dining with officials and developers on city business, but witnesses testified he was with girlfriends and staffers, the Tribune said.

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monaghan July 17, 2013 @ 10:53 a.m.

OMG, more stories of tongue-ing, fallen mayors and imprisoned city councilmen! They are reminders that we have been here before -- often, actually -- but never with so much at stake for the future of the city.

At least those miscreants got to hear charges, face accusers and mount a defense. That's way more "due process" than Mayor Bob Filner has been afforded in the last week by enemies who use extortion to try to get him out of City Hall. Stay strong, Bob. The longer this goes on, the worse the detractors look. Multiple mad-dog press conferences raise more questions than they answer.

Filner has rightly refused to resign and already has improved the mayor's office by bringing in admired administrator Walt Ekart. In seven months Filner has made headway turning the attention of local government from downtown to neighborhoods and from establishment interests to the people's concerns. We need that shift to continue.

Filner can overcome this self-inflicted setback without abandoning the work he was elected by 55% of voters to do. He's apologized, is making amends, is seeking personal counsel to help him recognize limits and respect interpersonal boundaries.

Personally, I feel more "safe" with Filner in the Mayor's office than I would with any of the other jackals hoping to replace him.


Founder July 18, 2013 @ 6:27 p.m.

I predict that Mayor Filner will surf this harassment issue to the highest approval ratings of any recent Mayor (because he has been honest with voters, from the beginning, about his actions), while at the same time insuring that everyone in San Diego, not just the Wealthy are given a voice at City Hall.


San Diego cannot afford any more influence peddlers or their $TADIUM deals, that leave voters holding nothing but a bag of debt that we cannot afford.


monaghan July 20, 2013 @ 12:08 a.m.

Let's not confuse our national issues with our local ones. And speaking of spending money and creating debt, who's the biggest proponent of another uber-costly U.S. military intervention, this time in Syria? That would be sabre-rattler Senator John McCain, GOP Senator from the great state of Arizona.Yesterday that hawk tried to bludgeon the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff into describing publicly what would constitute a nifty U.S. military intervention in Syria. Wisely, Dempsey refused to particIpate in that breach of protocol.


chenmingi July 21, 2013 @ 9:57 a.m.

Go ahead, google it yourself: "sex scandal" and "politician" appear in the same stories and about equally for Republicans as Democrats, Married as Unmarried, and Straight as Gay. This really isn't news.


Jack76 July 22, 2013 @ 3:59 p.m.

All you Filner apologists don't seem to realize what a costly disruption to City business is being caused by this man's inability to work with others. Now, the City will have to defend itself against a costly sexual harassment lawsuit because of the whack job you all love so much.


Richard Rider July 23, 2013 @ 12:38 a.m.

With great fanfare, legal vulture Gloria Allred has swooped in to San Diego to feast on the carrion that is Bob Filner. Dead meat.


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