Kevin Faulconer started off his term as mayor on a good note this week, deciding to hold off on a planned purge of all city emails older than a year.
That might’ve been due in large part to the pressure Californians Aware and the media put on Faulconer when the rumored policy was confirmed. The government transparency advocacy group threatened to sue if the city went through with the deletion of public records.
Donna Frye has a long history in San Diego city politics, including a near-miss shot at mayor. Now she’s president of Californians Aware.
Frye called in to the podcast this week to chat with Andrew Keatts, Scott Lewis and a new regular co-host (me — it’s me) about the details of that narrowly avoided purge, and the top transparency concerns San Diegans should keep an eye on.
Here are some of the takeaways from Frye’s call.
It’s not just the open data nerds clamoring for access.
“They might not give it a name, but there is not one citizen who has attempted, let’s say, to get information from government and been thwarted that doesn’t understand the value of open government and getting your questions answered in a timely manner so that you know what’s going on in your community. So whatever you want to call it — some just call it being polite and courteous and actually doing your job, what government is supposed to do.”
San Diegans will have to step up to hold Faulconer and Co. accountable.
“First of all, you have to have something specific that they’re going to do rather than sort of a vague concept. There has to be a way to measure and to understand whether that concept was put into action, and whether or not it actually has some sort of outcome, and that it accomplishes something. So the way that people can hold their elected officials accountable obviously is to participate — to make phone calls, write letters. I mean, just the basic stuff — go to City Council meetings, get involved in organizations that support open government … Contribute, stay engaged. There’s no trick to it — it’s pretty simple stuff. It’s basic civic engagement.”
She’s not convinced the email purge is gone for good.
“I would like to see something in writing. I would like to see that provided to the public … something that is more specific and more understandable. I guess I have problems relying on someone’s tweet as the official policy of the city.”
Download the rest of the episode for more from Frye. Like what you hear? Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes — and while you’re there, give us a star rating however you see fit.