Bob Filner’s former chief of staff to release bookAround the City, Online Only, Top Highlights Friday, January 29th, 2016
SAN DIEGO – An attorney and powerful woman in her own right, Lee Burdick thought she had seen, heard and litigated everything; but nothing could have prepared her for the political firestorm that exploded during her nine-month tenure as a key member of San Diego Mayor Bob Filner’s team. Her meteoric rise in the mayor’s office included seven months as his director of special projects and legal affairs, 10 days as deputy chief of staff and just under two months as his chief of staff and tracked Filner’s self-inflicted implosion leading to his resignation in August 2013.
In Bob Filner’s Monster, The Unraveling of an American Mayor and What We Can Learn from It, available for purchase Feb. 8, Burdick shares her insider perspective and writes of her experience, insights and feelings during that period.
She recounts her mixed emotions as she gave up a position on the San Diego Port Commission to join the staff of the city’s first Democratic mayor since 1992, particularly given his abrasive reputation; her frustrations as the city attorney’s office under Jan Goldsmith continually clashed with the mayor, putting her front and center as the mayor’s chief legal adviser; and her own personal journey as the sex harassment allegations that led to Filner’s resignation and three criminal counts became clear to her.
Burdick also writes with admiration of the extraordinary courage of the women she worked alongside at city hall who came forward to shine a light on the mayor’s behavior toward them; Irene McCormack Jackson, who was the mayor’s communications director and the first woman to come forward, and Benelia Santos-Hunter, his former executive assistant who may have faced the most frequent and egregious harassment by Filner. Burdick writes of her own predicament, to stay or to go, and her ultimate decision to stay as his last chief of staff in order to try to bring some leadership and stability to the remaining two dozen staffers in the mayor’s office and to ensure that the people of San Diego continued to be served.
“This was a terrible chapter in many lives, mine included, and one that everyone in the City of San Diego might prefer to forget. By revisiting it and keeping the dialogue going, I hope to help eliminate sex harassment in the workplace, especially in our most powerful political offices,” says Burdick. “Stories of the sexual abuse of power continue to resurface around the country, in entertainment, business and politics; and what I realized from my experience is that these stories need to be heard.”
Burdick says she came to see why some women were slow to report their sex harassment because the risks of standing up to it still far exceeded any personal benefit. Ultimately, she came to understand that society needs to listen when women muster the courage to object to offensive and criminal sex harassment and other offenses against women. When the presumption of innocence applies to the accuser with the same vigor as to the accused, victimized women will feel freer to come forward sooner.
The book includes several revelations, one being that to Burdick’s surprise the mayor’s suite of offices, her own office and other private meeting areas had been bugged.
“I knew Lee long before she went to work for Bob Filner. She is a woman of tremendous integrity and professionalism. Her story about what happened from the inside of this scandal is worth the read for anyone interested in politics,” said San Diego Councilwoman Marti Emerald.
Bob Filner’s Monster, The Unraveling of an American Mayor and What We Can Learn from It will be available Feb. 8 in both hard copy and e-book formats through Amazon and other book sellers. Learn more at Prima Publishing Group at www.primapublishinggroup.com.
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