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Frye Leaves Open Government Director Post

San Diego Mayor Bob Filner announced late Wednesday that Donna Frye has left her post as the city's director of open government.

San Diego Mayor Bob Filner announced late Wednesday that Donna Frye has left her post as the city's director of open government.

Frye told KPBS she took over as president of Californians Aware, a nonprofit that focuses on First Amendment rights and open government, in February and decided she can't do both jobs.

“It’s too much," she said. "Because I really need to focus on my efforts with Cal Aware right now. And it’s not mutually exclusive. I’ll still be helping Bob any way I can, just in an unpaid position.”

During his mayoral campaign, Filner promised to bring in Frye in a new city position as head of the open government department. The new role and the return of Frye to city government was exciting to some. But in the end, Frye was on the job for just three months. Her last day was Tuesday.

Frye said she'd been thinking that she needed to focus on just one job "for a while."

"It was sort of organic," she said. "I try to do a lot of things. Opportunities come up and I think I can do it all. I'm smart enough to know the limitations on my ability to focus on my city work and do my duty as president."

Frye’s city salary was the subject of dispute. City rules dictate Frye can’t work more than 90 days a year for the city because she collects a pension from her time on the City Council. Filner had asked the council to change those rules, but it was unclear whether they were going to agree to do it.

Although her 90 days were approaching, Frye says that debate was not a reason for her leaving. Neither was rumored dysfunction in Filner’s office.

“I’m a free spirit and I make my decisions based on what is best for everybody concerned,” Frye said.

Frye won’t be drawing a salary with Californians Aware, but said her decision isn’t about the money.

"The pay is the work," she said.

In her new role, she will focus on open government legislation at the state level and try to expand Californians Aware's exposure.

Despite Frye's departure, Filner said his office is committed to transparency.

"I asked her to work in my administration because she adheres to her values and believes that people have the right to know what their government is doing," Filner said in a news release. "We will continue to open the doors of government to the public, but will miss her drive, determination and wonderful sense of humor that helped to get things done."

Frye said she did not know if a new director of open government would be appointed. Filner's staff could not be reached for comment.

Frye served on the San Diego City Council from 2001 to 2010 and has long been a proponent of open government. The two-time mayoral candidate also launched the city's open government website as part of her mission to give San Diego residents access to information at City Hall.


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