NBC 7 News learned Filner and Goldsmith were seated at opposite ends of a long conference room table during one mediation session. NBC 7's Dave Summers reports.
Negotiations between San Diego’s mayor and city leaders determined to oust him from office could take several weeks, not days, one expert told NBC 7.
Despite the optimism of some participants, University of San Diego professor Orly Lobel said residents may need to wait weeks to learn the outcome of mediation between Mayor Bob Filner, City Attorney Jan Goldsmith, City Council President Todd Gloria and City Councilmember Kevin Faulconer.
Participants have been unwilling to share details of what's being discussed at the table, citing a request from the mediator, retired federal Judge Lawrence Irving.
“It's going to be an expensive process,” Lobel predicted. “It's going to be something like half a million dollars.”
While the San Diego City Council has already voted unanimously not to pay for the mayor's defense in a sexual harassment lawsuit brought by a former employee, Lobel suggests that may be where city leaders have to compromise.
“He will want some kind of promise from the city that he will pay possibly attorneys’ fees and possibly any damages,” she said.
Windows at the AT&T building where the negotiation sessions have taken place have been blacked out. But NBC 7 News has learned Filner and Goldsmith, two men who have fought publicly in the last 8 months, were seated on opposite ends of a long conference room table in Monday’s session.
Lobel says this is not how ordinary mediation takes place.
“The sides are caucusing separately in separate rooms so there is probably going to be three different rooms,” she said describing other mediation sessions.
Several experts have predicted that Filner will use his resignation as a bargaining chip.
Filner’s top aide said last week that she expected Filner to return to work Monday after three weeks away from the office.
Staffers and attorneys said Filner completed two weeks of therapy and took one week off of personal time.
Until Monday, Filner hadn't been seen in public since he held a news conference on July 26 announcing he would seek treatment for an undisclosed disorder or behavioral problem.
NBC 7 News filed a Public Records Act request on July 15 to obtain the mayor’s appointment schedule. The station has made repeated requests to get the information from the mayor’s staff.
On Tuesday, the mayor’s office told an NBC 7 Investigates producer that they could not fulfill the request filed because of the number of media requests for the information.
Filner promised to make his appointment scheduled available online when he campaigned for mayor.