I immediately believed the countless stories about the workplace abuses former UFCW Local 135 employees of Mickey Kasparian told about him when I these women spoke to me in December 2016. I was keen to believe them, because I lived through my own version of hell in the chaos of 2013, which culminated in the resignation of disgraced former Mayor Bob Filner.
One of the distressing things about that summer, aside from fearing news crews would learn I was one of the women he had mishandled, was how should-be allies were loudly dismissing the painful lived experiences of women. Among these were other women with their own personal histories including sexual harassment and assault, who mocked and diminished those who came forward regarding Filner’s abuses of power. It seemed in their minds, if nobody would say he was raping women, it didn’t matter.
Another such disappointment was Bryan Pease, who is currently a candidate for San Diego City Council. As an environmental attorney, he has often been on the same side of many issues and seen as a professional ally of attorneys Marco Gonzalez and Cory Briggs, and environmental champion, former City Councilmember Donna Frye.
Instead, in his political opportunism, he chose to speak against their efforts to hold Filner accountable and prevent him from further traumatizing countless women, attempting to discredit the men who were often his allies in the environmental movement, and dismissing the trauma of so many women.
At the time, I was traumatized, too, and not comfortable with confrontation. But I privately messaged Bryan on Facebook:
Sara: Marco and Cory have had your back in plenty of situations. It’s shameful and embarrassing – some of the things that have been said to me – but I’m just an activist and not Bob’s employee. He’s predatory. At what point do your ethics protecting women kick in? More info will come out, but we’re trying to protect the victims here. I’d appreciate you giving your friends a little more credit.
Sara: Loudest message he could possibly hear after other attempts rebuffed/ignored. Old dogs/new tricks prob, possibly.
Sara: to the last part. I’m pissed at him for jeopardizing everything we all worked so hard for. So selfish and unnecessary.
Sara: I have a sweet, innocently flirty 90 year old Navy man grandad. I reject your assertion. He’s had old ladies after him for decades, and has kept it innocent and non-gross. Some of the other dudes at the Veteran’s Home, however…
That was in July 2013, when Donna, Marco and Cory first called for his resignation.
The next day, Filner issued a vague video response saying, “I need help,” and non-speficially apologizing for wronging women.
Pease’s response via Twitter (though he has mostly sanitized his feed re: Filner from that summer Filner):
In the following weeks, several additional women shared their accounts of Filner using his position as Mayor to perpetrate both verbal and physical sexual abuse. Some retold incidents occurred prior to his election to the position of Mayor, but several were stories of those he had mistreated on the campaign trail and once in office.
When Irene McCormick hired Gloria Allred, skeptics doubled down.
More than a month following our private exchange and more than twenty public and anonymous stories were shared, Pease was still defending Filner.
Attorney Bryan Pease spoke Monday about his concern over City Attorney Jan Goldsmith’s plan to use a section of the City Charter to remove Filner from office.
“Nobody’s perfect. Bob has taken responsibility for his actions and I think he should be given credit for that,” Pease said.
“We should not allow the City Attorney and political factions to essentially hijack this process and allow our mayor to be removed.”
Now, Pease is running for City Council. He has previously failed in campaigns for City Council and City Attorney. His callous and dismissive attitudes toward abuse of women and unsafe workplaces are still evident in that he sought, accepted, and defends the Working Families Council endorsement, the sham org founded by Mickey Kasparian when he was being held accountable for undermining the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council and under fire for the several lawsuits filed against him by former employees. He continues to defend his choice to seek that endorsement, and in doing so minimizing the very personal forms of pain that have been borne those Kasparian has mistreated over the years.
I don’t trust Bryan Pease to protect women should he be elected. He appears to be lacking in capacity for basic human compassion. We have had enough of arrogant, out-of-touch elected leaders who fail us in this regard.