The bitter rivals in last fall's mayoral race re-claimed the media spotlight Thursday, once again on opposite sides of an issue.
Specifically: "double dipping" — hiring government retirees back on the public payroll.
The flap involves former Councilwoman Donna Frye, Filner's Director of Open Government, who's often referred to Filner's November runoff opponent, Carl DeMaio, as a "political sociopath".
An inveterate government-spending watchdog whose one term on the Council ended last December, DeMaio is taking sharp issue with the mayor's plan to boost Frye's employment status.
Frye, City Hall's longtime champion of "transparency" in government, is working for the mayor as a 90-days-per-year "provisional" employee.
Filner wants to give Frye -- and other retired councilmembers who may be rehired by the city -- a full slate of workdays, without further pension benefits.
DeMaio has slammed the proposal in a U-T San Diego op-ed piece, and at a Thursday gathering of taxpayer advocates.
He says Filner’s proposed job setup for Frye raises legal questions, tax issues and concerns about political abuse of the system.
"It doesn’t pass the smell test … it's pretty offensive,” DeMaio told NBC 7 in an interview Thursday. “It's not what voters want to see, because voters have spoken very clearly -- they want an end to double-dipping. They want to see real pension reform at City Hall."
Retorted Filner, during a news conference he held to showcase Frye’s work on new, city-information web pages: "There is no double-dipping here. We want to make use of her talents, and her commitment to the city … she earned a pension as a councilmember. She earned certain benefits as a councilmember. She keeps those, but we are not adding to those in any way."
The change would give Frye an hourly wage of $48, or $100,000 a year.
She draws about $32,000 in retirement income.
Unless the City Council approves Filner’s plan, the mayor said Frye is on pace to be termed out as a 90-day "provisional" employee next month.
Under current regulations, she’d have to wait until next year to regain that status.
The mayor he told reporters he doesn't know whether he can count on five votes from the Council’s current membership of eight -- there's a now 4-to-4 split between Democrats and Republicans.
A fifth Democrat likely would emerge from the special election in the 4th Council district to replace the departed Tony Young, but the outcome ultimately may not be decided until May.
DeMaio is unhappy that the proposal would even come to a Council vote.
"These politicians,” he said, “are voting themselves an exclusive benefit that no other city employee receives, that the taxpayers themselves do not receive. It's wrong and it ought to be rejected."
Asked at the news conference for her response to DeMaio’s stance, Frye replied – coyly -- "My response is who?”
She then stepped away from the podium, to guffaws from the media.