Ethics Commission
City and County of San Francisco

Minutes – July 13, 2009

(Approved August 10, 2009)

Minutes of the Regular
Meeting of
The San Francisco Ethics Commission
July 13, 2009
Room 408, City Hall

I.Call to order and roll call.

Chairperson Studley called the meeting to order at 5:35 p.m.

COMMISSION MEMBERS PRESENT:  Jamienne Studley, Chairperson;
Susan Harriman, Vice-Chairperson; Emi Gusukuma, Commissioner; Eileen
Hansen, Commissioner; Charles Ward, Commissioner.

STAFF PRESENT:  John St. Croix, Executive Director; Mabel Ng,
Deputy Executive Director; Paul Solis, Investigator/Legal Analyst.

OFFICE OF THE CITY ATTORNEY:  Jon Givner, Deputy City Attorney.

OTHERS PRESENT: Kathy Lawhan; Anne Wintroub; John Buchanan; Luis
Cancel; Dennis Kern; Meredith Thomas; and other unidentified members of
the public.

MATERIALS DISTRIBUTED:  
– Memorandum from Executive Director to Ethics Commission re: Waiver
from Compensated Advocacy Ban for Patrick Buscovich, July 8, 2009
– Memorandum from Executive Director to Ethics Commission re:
Legislation to clarify application of conflict of interest provisions
under Chapter 2, Article III of San Francisco Campaign and Governmental
Conduct Code, July 8, 2009
– Memorandum from Executive Director to Ethics Commission re:
Legislation regarding the solicitation of donations to friends’ groups,
July 7, 2009
– Draft Minutes of the June 8, 2009 Regular Meeting
– Executive Director’s Report to the Ethics Commission for the Meeting
of July 13, 2009

II.Public comment on matters appearing or not appearing on
the agenda
that is within the jurisdiction of the Ethics Commission

None.

III.Consideration of request for waiver from compensated
advocacy ban
by Patrick Buscovich, a member of the Board of Examiners, Department of
Building Inspection

Patrick Buscovich introduced himself and stated that he has been asked
to serve on the Board of Examiners.  He stated that he is one
of about 30 licensed structural engineers in San Francisco. 
He stated that he conducts his business exclusively in the City and
needs a waiver to continue.

Chairperson Studley asked if the Building Inspection Commission (“BIC”)
has discussed the issue with staff.  Deputy Director Ng stated
that the BIC contacted staff and stated that it is difficult to recruit
members to the Board of Examiners.

Commissioner Ward discussed the dissenting District Attorney (“DA”)
opinion.  Ms. Ng stated that the DA’s opinion defers to the
Ethics Commission on whether to grant a waiver and, in any event,
recognized that the granting of a waiver does not provide Mr. Buscovich
immunity from alleged violations of laws other than the compensated
advocacy ban.

Commissioner Hansen stated that although she supports this waiver, she
does not generally like to grant them.  She stated that she
would feel less comfortable granting the waiver if the Commission was
not addressing Agenda Item IV at the current Commission meeting.

Public Comment:
None.

Motion 09-07-13-1
(Harriman/Ward) Moved, seconded and passed (5-0) that
the Ethics Commission grant the Buscovich waiver.

V.Consideration of amendments to create a new Chapter 5 in
Article III
of the San Francisco Campaign and Governmental Conduct Code

Executive Director St. Croix stated that the legislation does not
require Commission approval but the Clerk of the Board referred the
matter to the Commission for review.  The legislation was
proposed by Supervisor Daly.

Commissioner Harriman inquired about the problem the legislation
attempts to address.  She stated that without comment from
Supervisor Daly, the legislation was overbroad as written. 
Commissioner Gusukuma stated that because the penalties for violation
could include criminal penalties, she needs clarification from
Supervisor Daly before she would approve.  Commissioner Ward
stated that he would like the Commission to take some affirmative
action on the legislation.  Commissioner Hansen stated that
she approves of the thrust of the legislation because she believed it
addressed some type of past issue, but would like Commission discussion
at the current meeting.

Public Comment:
Kathy Lawhan, on behalf of the City Librarian stated that the
legislation would prevent the Friends of the Library group from aiding
much of the work of the Library.  She stated that staff would
be prevented from attending events and fundraisers by the Friends of
the Library.  She also stated that she would like further
clarification on what “solicit” means within the legislation.

Commissioner Hansen asked what would happen if the Friends of the
Library did not exist.  Ms. Lawhan stated that without the
Friends group fundraising and cooperating with Library staff, the
Library may have to create a new division.

Chairperson Studley asked if donations directly to the Library are tax
deductible.  Ms. Lawhan stated that they are but that the
donations of $100 or more must be posted on the website with the name
of the source.

Anne Wintroub explained the work of the Friends of the Library and gave
examples of how the legislation would negatively affect the
relationship between the City and the Friends group.  She
stated that City officials speaking at public events funded by the
Friends would be deterred from thanking attendees for their
efforts.  She stated that public-private partnerships are
essential to thriving City programs.

John Buchanan on behalf of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco
stated that Fine Arts Museums were founded by charitable
donations.  He stated that private sector money is essential
to Fine Arts.

Luis Cancel on behalf of the Arts Commission stated that arts in the
City would be adversely affected by the legislation and would prohibit
the Commission from raising private money.  He stated that
only $15,000 is appropriated each year to maintain and conserve the
City’s art collection.  He stated that the Arts Commission
needs fundraising efforts to continue its work.

Dennis Kern on behalf of the Recreation and Parks Department stated
that his agency seeks public-private partnerships and that this
legislation deters them.

Meredith Thomas on behalf of the Neighborhood Parks Council stated that
the legislation is overbroad and that it prevents the Council from
furthering the progress of City parks.  She stated that the
Council must be able to work closely with the Recreation and Parks
Department and that private groups need to know that their investments
will actually involve public agencies.

Commissioner Ward stated that the Commission should send the
legislation back with a comment derived from public comment. 
He stated that the comment should reflect the unintended consequences
heard from the public.  Commissioner Harriman stated that
Supervisor Daly should receive a transcript from agenda item
V.  Chairperson Studley agreed with the
recommendations.  Commissioner Hansen stated that a transcript
of the relevant portion of the meeting should go to Supervisor Daly and
requested that he attend a future meeting, should the legislation go
forward.

Motion 09-07-13-2
(Harriman/Ward) Moved, seconded and passed (5-0) that
the Ethics Commission send the legislation back to Supervisor Daly with
an attached transcript of Commissioner and public comments on agenda
item V.

Commissioner Hansen stated that a recent opinion piece in the Examiner
had claimed that the Commission supported Supervisor Daly’s
legislation.  She stated that this claim should be corrected
because the Commission has yet to approve legislation.

IV.Consideration of possible amendments to Chapter 2, Article
III of
the San Francisco Campaign and Governmental Conduct Code

Deputy Director Ng discussed staff’s memo.  Commissioner
Gusukuma asked why a new waiver system would be created with the
amendments.  Deputy City Attorney Givner stated that there is
no current waiver from the contracting ban and the implementation of
this waiver system would promote consistency in the Campaign and
Governmental Conduct Code.   He also stated that
appointing officials have expressed frustration that the current ban
hinders their ability to appoint specialized individuals to boards and
commissions.

Chairperson Studley asked if the amendments would include members of
boards and commissions into the definition of “officer,” to which Ms.
Ng responded that the amendments would.  

Commissioner Hansen stated that she was concerned that members of the
community college board were not subject to the conflict of interest
rules discussed in the agenda item.  She asked if that issue
could be addressed.  Mr. Givner responded that the City has
only certain powers to regulate community college elections.

Public Comment:
None.

Motion 09-07-13-3
(Hansen/Harriman) Moved, seconded and passed (5-0)
that the Ethics Commission approve amendments to Chapter 2, Article III
of the San Francisco Campaign and Governmental Conduct Code.

VI.Discussion of Fiscal Year 2009-2010 budget outcomes

Executive Director St. Croix discussed the Election Campaign Fund and
stated that he believes there will be enough money for the next
Supervisorial election but possibly not the next Mayoral
election.  He stated that the Mayor’s Office has pledged to
return any money taken out of the fund.

Commissioner Ward asked how the Commission will know whether the
Mayor’s Office will continue to take out funds.  Mr. St. Croix
stated that there is no certainty but that there would be significant
public concern if the fund was not sufficient.

Commissioner Hansen stated that the Mayor’s Office should appear before
the Commission to discuss the matter.  She stated that when
the Mayor takes money from the Fund without telling the Commission,
there may not be sufficient trust in the Mayor’s guarantee to return
the funds.  Mr. St. Croix stated that a written guarantee by
the Mayor’s Office to replenish all the funds has satisfied members of
the Board of Supervisors.

Public Comment:
None.

VII.Closed Session

Public Comment:
None.

Motion 09-07-13-4
(Hansen/Harriman) Moved, seconded and passed (5-0)
that the Ethics Commission go into a closed session.

The Commission went into closed session at 6:44 p.m.

VIII.Discussion and vote regarding closed session action and
deliberations

The Commission returned to open session at 8:20 p.m.

Public Comment:
None.

Motion 09-07-13-5
(Harriman/Gusukuma) Moved, seconded and passed (5-0)
that the Ethics Commission finds that it is in the best interests of
the public not to disclose its closed session deliberations.

IX.Minutes of the Commission’s regular meeting of June 8, 2009

Public Comment:
None.

Motion 09-07-13-6
(Gusukuma/Ward) Moved, seconded and passed (5-0) that
the Ethics Commission adopt the minutes of the Commission’s regular
meeting of June 8, 2009.

X.Executive Director’s Report

Executive Director St. Croix stated although there was a three percent
increase to the Commission budget, Supervisor Chiu has recently
authored legislation to reduce tech budgets from any City department
with a tech division.  He stated that he must take $4,000 from
the three percent increase.  Mr. St. Croix also stated that
the Commission has a new website and that staff will be implementing
changes to address any problems.

Commissioner Hansen stated that she would like to see greater detail
about waiver requests in the Executive Director’s
report.   She also asked if staff could track leaving
office Statements of Economic Interests better.  Mr. St. Croix
stated that leaving office statements are difficult to track because
agency staff monitoring the statements cannot always contact the former
officer.

Commissioner Hansen inquired about what staff can do to get non-filers
to file.  Commissioner Hansen also asked if any archive issues
would be addressed with the new website to which Mr. St. Croix stated
that they would.

Public Comment:
None.

XI.Items for future meetings

None.

XII.Public comment on matters appearing or not appearing on
the agenda
that are within the jurisdiction of the Ethics Commission

None.

XIII.Adjournment

Public Comment:
None.

Motion 09-07-13-7
(Ward/Harriman) Moved, seconded and passed (5-0) that
the Ethics Commission adjourn.

The meeting was adjourned at 8:32 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

________________
Paul Solis
Investigator/ Legal Analyst

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