Ethics Commission
City and County of San Francisco

Minutes – April 12, 2010

Minutes of the Regular Meeting of
The San Francisco Ethics Commission
April 12, 2010
Room 408, City Hall
1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place
San Francisco, CA 94102

I. Call to order and roll call.

Vice-Chairperson Harriman called the meeting to order at 5:30 PM. 

COMMISSION MEMBERS PRESENT:  Susan Harriman, Vice-Chairperson; Benedict Y. Hur, Commissioner; Charles Ward, Commissioner.  (Chairperson Studley and Commissioner Hansen absent and excused.)

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

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

OTHERS PRESENT:  James Chaffee, Marc Solomon, Peter Warfield, and other unidentified members of the public.

MATERIALS DISTRIBUTED: 
– Memorandum from Executive Director St. Croix regarding draft amendments to regulations related to gifts from restricted sources, dated April 7, 2010
– Proposed changes to Regulations to Government Ethics Ordinance
– Draft Minutes of the March 8, 2010, Regular Meeting of the San Francisco Ethics Commission
– Executive Director’s Report to the Ethics Commission for the Meeting of April 12, 2010

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

A member of the public distributed a letter regarding a Sunshine Task Force referral to the Ethics Commission.  He stated that the Library Commission is working primarily on the behalf of corporate interests, and not treating members of the public with the same respect as corporate donors.  He stated that the Library Commission continuously violates the Sunshine Ordinance.

Marc Solomon stated that Executive Director St. Croix wrongly blamed Alan Grossman regarding a Sunshine Ordinance settlement.  He stated that Chairperson Studley should disclose funding sources regarding a lawsuit involving Public Advocates.

Peter Warfield stated that a complaint involving the Library Commission that was referred to the Ethics Commission should be upheld as to the Sunshine Task Force findings.

III. Consideration of proposed regulations to exclude from the restricted source gift rule (Campaign and Governmental Conduct Codes section 3.216(a):  (1) gift cards or certificates to designated vendors worth $25 or less; and (2) prizes or rewards received by City employees and officers through their participation in the City’s Annual Joint Fundraising Drive. 

Decision Point 1

Deputy Executive Director Ng stated that the purpose of the proposed changes is to clarify how the Ethics Commission will differentiate between gift cards and certificates that are vendor specific and non-vendor specific.  She stated that non-vendor specific cards and certificates would be equivalent to cash for purposes of the Ordinance.

Commissioner Ward stated that the changes only restrict the amount of the gift from the source and not the number of gift cards or certificates an employee may receive.

Deputy Executive Director Ng stated that other regulations restrict the gift amount an employee may receive, this is just to classify whether a gift card or certificate should be treated as cash. 

Commissioner Ward stated that this classification would make a vendor-specific gift card an exception.  He stated that he is not in favor of allowing employees to receive gift cards from multiple sources even though there is currently a monetary limit on what an employee can receive. 

Decision Point 2

Deputy Executive Director Ng stated that this change would allow an employee to win a gift that is a raffle drawing prize that may be classified as coming from a restricted source, even though local law does not allow any employee to receive over $25 from a restricted source.   She stated that without this change, employees may not be able to receive a prize, and as such would deter employee participation in the Annual Combined Charities Drive. 

Deputy City Attorney Givner stated that this is an ongoing problem for any charity drive.

Commissioner Ward stated that this change should only apply if the prize draw is random.

Commissioner Hur stated that there could be conflicts regarding soliciting donations and agreed that the change should only apply to random draws.

DCA Givner clarified that, under the law, the restriction is on the person receiving the gift.

Vice-Chairperson Harriman stated that the language should be changed to “items of any value received by a City employee or officer in a random drawing associated with participation in the City Annual Joint Fundraising Drive under San Francisco Administrative Code Chapter 16, Article V (also known as Combined Charities Fundraising Drive).”

Public Comment:
None.

Motion 10-04-12-1 (Hur/Ward):  Moved, seconded, and passed (3-0) that the Ethics Commission approve the language for Regulation 3.216(b)-5(g) as:  Items of any value received by a City employee or officer in a random drawing associated with participation in the City’s Annual Joint Fundraising Drive under San Francisco Administrative Code Chapter 16, Article V (also known as Combined Charities Fundraising Drive).

IV. Closed Session.

Motion 10-04-12-2 (Ward/Hur): Moved, seconded, and passed (3-0) that the Commission go into closed session.

Public Comment:
None.

The Commission went into closed session at 5:56 PM.
The Commission returned to open session at 6:04 PM.

V. Discussion and vote regarding closed session action and deliberations. 

Motion 10-04-12-3 (Harriman/Ward): Moved, seconded and passed (3-0) that the Ethics Commission finds that it is in the best interests of the public not to disclose its closed session deliberations re: anticipated litigation as defendant.
Public Comment:
None.

VI. Minutes of the Commission’s regular meeting of March 8, 2010

Motion 10-04-12-4 (Ward/Hur): Moved, seconded, and passed (3-0) that the Commission adopt the minutes of the meeting of March 8, 2010.

Public Comment:
None.

VII. Executive Director’s Report

Executive Director St. Croix stated that the Ethics Commission continues to work to meet the requested budgets cuts from the Mayor’s Office.  He responded to Vice-Chairperson Harriman that the annual COGEL conference and all other travel and related expenses have been cut.  He stated that he is most concerned about maintaining staffing levels and that some open positions will likely go unfilled.

Public Comment:
None.

VIII. Items for Future Meetings

Public Comment:
None.

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

None.

X. Adjournment

Motion 10-04-12-5 (Harriman/Ward) Moved, seconded and passed (3-0) that the Ethics Commission adjourn.

The meeting was adjourned at 6:09 PM.

Respectfully submitted,

_______________________
Garrett Chatfield
Investigator/ Legal Analyst

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