San Diego mayor recall effort begins in earnest

(CBS News) SAN DIEGO - San Diego Mayor Bob Filner is expected back at City Hall Monday.

San Diego mayor to undergo therapy
San Diego Mayor Bob Filner

Filner has been out of sight since announcing in July that he would seek therapy after multiple women accused him of sexual harassment.

Filner now faces a fight to keep his job. The drive to recall Filner is officially underway.

City Attorney Jan Goldsmith says Filner's return to City Hall is "going to be awkward and there's going to be some tension."

Goldsmith said the mayor cannot undo the damage he's already done.

Jan Goldsmith
San Diego City Attorney Jan Goldsmith
CBS News

"We're not going to just sit back and let him have the run of City Hall without having some protection for our employees," Goldsmith said. "That's out obligation."

At his last public appearance on July 26, Filner announced he would undergo two weeks of intensive therapy.

"I must become a better person," Filner said.

Too late, say all nine members of the San Diego City Council, who are demanding his resignation.

So far, sixteen women have come forward -- one by one -- each with a disturbing story.

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Protesters in San Diego on August 18, 2013.
CBS News

"I thought the mayor was a dead man walking when this first occurred, but he's now like a character from a zombie movie...he keeps on going," said Carl Luna, a political science professor at San Diego's Mesa College. "If Bob Filner is able to survive this scandal, he will have written a brand new page of the political playbook, but also leave scars on the city of San Diego to be sure."

Goldsmith said the mayor's will probably not be forcibly ousted over the harassment scandal.

"Whether he resigns or not is completely up to him," Goldsmith said. "We're not going to have a coup d'etat."

The city's investigation of its mayor has expanded beyond Filner's alleged mistreatment of women, and now includes scrutiny of money spent on his city credit card.

So even if the recall effort is not successful, Goldsmith said, "there are options, legal options and he will be removed. As long as the people of San Diego and the council want it, he will be removed. It's futile to hold on."

To get the recall on the ballot, organizers have little over a month to gather more than 100,000 valid signatures. And in the meantime, the city attorney said he's prepared to seek a protective order to keep Filner out of City Hall if his presence creates a hostile working environment.