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New St. Paul Human Rights Department has Leader

St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman has selected a leader for the newly created Department of Human Rights and Equal Economic Opportunity, the Star Tribune reported.

Luz Maria Frias, who has been the director of external affairs, will lead a focused effort to address the interplay of economic issues in - and the city's relations with - minority communities, the Star Tribune reported.

The department's goal is equal opportunity, which will be promoted through work on human rights, minority outreach, and city contracting, the Pioneer Press reported.

Several issues have surfaced over the years leading to the creation of the department. An audit determined that businesses owned by women or minorities received less than 7 percent of the money of all city contracts in 2006, the Star Tribune reported.

Frias, who will begin a three-year term on Feb. 23, was not originally a finalist for the position, the Pioneer Press reported. But the mayor and the search committee leader said they were pleased with the selection of Frias, the Star Tribune reported.

The mayor and the city's Human Rights Commission will oversee the new department, the Pioneer Press reported.