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San Diego mayor unwelcome in Hooters restaurants

San Diego mayor Bob Filner speaks at a news conference in San Diego, California July 26, 2013. REUTERS/Fred Greaves
San Diego mayor Bob Filner speaks at a news conference in San Diego, California July 26, 2013. REUTERS/Fred Greaves

By Marty Graham

SAN DIEGO (Reuters) - For San Diego Mayor Bob Filner, who faces a torrent of sexual harassment allegations, the message is that his alleged behavior is too boorish even for Hooters restaurants, best known for their scantily clad waitresses and the patrons who ogle them.

Four San Diego-area Hooters restaurants have posted signs saying the 70-year-old Democrat and former congressman "will not be served in this establishment. We believe women should be treated with respect."

"It is localized to our four San Diego locations," Melissa Fry, marketing director for Hootwinc LLC, the West Coast headquarters for the Atlanta-based restaurant chain, said on Wednesday.

More than a dozen women have publicly accused Filner since last month of groping and making other unwanted advances toward them over the years, starting with a former press secretary who filed a sexual harassment suit against the mayor and the city.

The signs are actually the creation of conservative radio talk show host Glenn Beck, who began offering them last week as an Internet download from his website.

Beck has cited the Filner scandal as one of several high-profile cases of sexual misconduct by Democrats, including former congressman and New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner, in contesting the assertion by some Democrats that the Republican Party is waging a "war on women."

"I made the sign for the people of San Diego, all businesses in San Diego," he told radio listeners.

A Hooters spokeswoman, Kelly Propst, said the four San Diego outlets "took it upon themselves" to post the signs starting on Monday. Customers starting noticing the signs and tweeting pictures of them on Tuesday.

"Our Hooters girls in San Diego have spoken. Not a corporate gig, but we support our girls," the company said in a message posted via Twitter on Tuesday night.

The irony of the Filner snub was self-evident coming from a restaurant chain that promotes a waitressing staff of "beautiful Hooters girls" who dress in cleavage-revealing tops and short shorts.

Beck took a moment out of his radio show and webstream on Wednesday to savor the spectacle, displaying a photo of two Hooters servers in their skimpy outfits holding one of his signs.

"At the top of the show, I told you California is creating a new society without any common sense, but at the least the girls of Hooters are standing up against the mayor of San Diego," he said. "This is a sweet moment."

Neither the mayor's office nor his lawyers were immediately available for comment.

Nearly every elected official of both parties in San Diego has called on Filner to resign as mayor of California's second-largest city, and a bipartisan campaign seeking his ouster through a recall election has been launched.

Filner announced July 26 that he was taking a break from office to undergo two weeks of intensive behavioral counseling to deal with what he called a pattern of disrespectful and "intimidating" treatment of women."

His lawyers have said that Filner was completing his therapy on Saturday - about 10 days earlier than originally planned - but would continue counseling on an out-patient basis while remaining on personal leave for another week.

In his first public statement since taking leave, a rebuttal filed on Monday in answer to the recall petition, Filner refused again to step down and defended his accomplishments as mayor.

On Tuesday, his chief of staff acknowledged the mayor had been weakened by the scandal but would press forward with an agenda that members of City Council would hopefully support.

(Additional reporting and writing by Steve Gorman; Editing by Cynthia Johnston, Gary Hill)

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