Donna Frye, the former councilwoman and almost-mayor, is leaving her brief job as head of open government at the city for a new position as president of an organization that supports First Amendment rights and open access to government.

It’s not clear who will replace her at the city. The City Council had been preparing to discuss the politically dicey topic of how to make her a permanent employee while she already gets a pension from her service as a council member.

The news came via a city press release on Wednesday afternoon. Frye will run the non-profit Californians Aware organization. Frye is the first high-profile member of Mayor Bob Filner’s administration to resign.

We sat down with Frye for a Q-and-A about open government last month. Read the interview here.     

Filner is known to be a difficult and demanding boss (“I’m a pretty hard driver of people,” he said when he announced some of his first hires as mayor), and there’s no sign that he has changed his ways during the first few months of his term as mayor. But there’s no indication so far his management style (or the fuss over her pension) had anything to do with Frye’s departure.

Fact Check: ‘Record’ Test Scores at Supe’s Old School?

Cindy Marten, the new superintendent of San Diego schools, wrote a press release about herself and touted the progress made at the elementary school where she served as principal: “The school Academic Performance Index jumped a record 52 points in 2010 to 754.”

San Diego Fact Check finds the claim is misleading, and Marten acknowledges that her wording is imprecise. The “record” was only during Marten’s tenure — not a record for the school or the district.

We reported earlier this week that the improvement in test scores at Marten’s former school aren’t spectacular, but they may just tell a part of her story. Several commenters took issue with our conclusions, with some saying the story’s focus on test scores is inappropriate.

Why You Should Care about the Farm Bill

Unless you spend a lot of time in the backcountry, you may rarely give much thought to the role of farming in our county. But it’s a big industry here. How big? San Diego County ranks 18th in the nation in terms of agriculture, and we’ve got more organic farmers (almost 350) than anywhere else in the U.S.

Our food politics blogger Clare Leschin-Hoar says this is one reason why you should pay attention to congressional wrestling over the Farm Bill. But there’s more. “Health officials encourage us to fill half our plates with healthy produce every day, and yet, what our nation chooses to subsidize is the very base of our processed food diets. This is what is at the crux of what the Farm Bill could do,” she writes in her latest post.

And this year, things are different for San Diego: One of our congressional representatives has an especially powerful position.  

• Also in our Active Voice section, arts blogger Libby Weber pores over an especially violent season on local stages.

Behind a Violent Jail Death

Last week, CityBeat published the extraordinary story last week about the unusually high number of deaths in county jails — 60 from 2007-2012. The Sheriff’s Department appeared to be unmoved by the revelations.

Now, CityBeat has a new story about one case in particular — the death of a prisoner in 2009 as he was restrained by several guards: “Within minutes, the perfect storm of brutality — pepper spray, a misplaced chokehold and being handcuffed, facedown on the floor — resulted in his death.”

 The jail system didn’t tell his family what happened and it apparently wasn’t reported to the media. A local police watchdog agency didn’t hear about it, either. It asked the Sheriff’s Department to change its policies, but it refused.

The district attorney’s office cleared the guards, but it got some details wrong. The prisoner’s family has an attorney now. The county’s lawyers declined to comment.  

Quick News Hits

• Caltrans says it wants to hear the public’s thoughts about plans to clear congestion on the roads and train tracks in North County, reports. One project would bring express lanes to I-5 from La Jolla to Oceanside (yippee!) while another would build a second train track along the coast along with a bike trail next to it.  

• Local boosters would like to see San Diego become the “drone capital of the world,” KPBS reports. But a coalition of liberals and libertarians are anything but up in the air about the wisdom of such a plan.

• “Money that was budgeted to fix the brakes and pay for other maintenance on North County Transit District’s Sprinter was instead used to pay for buses and transit studies,” Investigative Newsource reports. The train system has been shut down indefinitely due to brake issues.

• So how are things going in Stockton, which we’re watching as it tries to go bankrupt? Not so well. The L.A. Times looks at the city’s high violence rate (big cuts to cops aren’t helping) and the insistence of its leaders on trying to survive financially. “We’re dying in the streets, and you’re paying Wall Street,” sneered an attendee at a recent meeting.  

• The feds are sounding the alarm about high numbers of sick baby sea lions that have washed up on Southern California beaches. “The onslaught has drained resources, requiring not just more food and medication but straining the pool of volunteers, who have to cover more hours and tend to more pups,” the L.A. Times reports.   

• President Obama’s brain research initiative could bring many millions to San Diego scientists. U-T San Diego has stories here and here.

• Tender Greens, the chain that includes a Point Loma location that’s a favorite among VOSD types, gets a shout-out in a New York Times article about healthy eating: “It can’t really be considered fast food, but it’s quite terrific and I’d love to see it put Applebee’s and Olive Garden out of business.”

Hush, you. Some of us need endless breadsticks on occasion. And besides, cardiologists need to keep working.

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. Please contact him directly at and follow him on Twitter:

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Randy Dotinga

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. Please contact him directly at

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