Minutes of the Regular Meeting of
The San Francisco Ethics Commission
August 9, 2010
Room 408, City Hall
1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place
San Francisco, CA 94102
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; Eileen Hansen, Commissioner; Benedict Y. Hur, Commissioner; Charles Ward, Commissioner.
Staff Present: John St. Croix, Executive Director; Mabel Ng, Deputy Executive Director; Garrett Chatfield, Investigator.
Office of the City Attorney: Andrew Shen, Deputy City Attorney
Others Present: Ray Hartz and other unidentified members of the public.
- Draft Annual Report for the San Francisco Ethics Commission July 1, 2009 – June 30, 2010, and memorandum from Executive Director St. Croix, RE: Annual Report, dated August 4, 2010.
- Proposed draft of promotional piece to be submitted to the Department of Elections for inclusion in the November 2010 Election Voter’s Guide.
- Draft Minutes of the July 12, 2010, Regular Meeting of the San Francisco Ethics Commission.
- Executive Director’s Report to the Ethics Commission for the Meeting of August 9, 2010.
- Request for, and Informal Written Opinion, RE: Whether communications with the San Francisco Employees Retirement System on behalf of Michael Kim’s firm, Cendana Capital, would violate the conflict of interest laws of the City and County of San Francisco.
II. Public comment on matters appearing or not appearing on the agenda that are within the jurisdiction of the Ethics Commission.
Ray Hartz, director of San Francisco Open Government and a veteran of the U.S. Navy, stated that City commissioners and members on all City boards take an oath to defend the U.S. Constitution. He stated that some boards and commissions interfere with the right to public comment and attempt to withhold public documents. He stated that some commissioners are only serving in order to advance either their own, or appointing authority’s, agenda. He stated that only a few commissioners and board members serve in order to advance the public interest.
III. Annual Report. Consideration of the Annual Report for Fiscal Year 2009-2010. (Discussion and possible action.)
Executive Director St. Croix stated that the format for the Annual Report is new and that he hoped it was easier to understand. He solicited feedback from the Commissioners to see if there were any suggested changes.
Vice-Chairperson Harriman stated that she had edits on page 12 beginning with “[d]uring the course of the reporting year.” She stated that it is unclear as to what the Commission is trying to express. She stated that the phrase “from last year” should be added after “reduction in number” and the word “circumstances” should be replaced with “factors.” She stated that the report should state which training modules are available now, and when those not yet available will be ready. She also stated that the final sentence regarding the Education/Outreach Coordinator was not clear.
Executive Director St. Croix stated that the Education/Outreach Coordinator duties that are outlined in the report are new to the Coordinator, and have reduced the amount of time she has available to work on other items.
Vice-Chairperson Harriman stated that a better way to express that would be to say the Coordinator “took on additional tasks which reduced the amount of time she had available for training and outreach.”
Chairperson Studley stated that in that same paragraph there is a reference to the number of trainings and workshops staff conducted during the last year. She stated that a sentence is needed that would indicate something affirmative about what each training’s focus was, or what the actual increase in trainings was over the last year. She stated this is one area in which the Commission receives feedback and that the report should reflect that feedback.
Commissioner Hansen stated that the new format was helpful by making it very clear what the actual changes were from last year. She questioned how the statement on page 13 was determined. Specifically, in the Policy Recommendations section, regarding Education and Communication with the General Public, that there is a “general consensus that these priorities are being adequately addressed.”
Executive Director St. Croix responded to Commissioner Hansen stating that during the June 2010 meeting, the Commissioners came to a consensus that the Commission was appropriately addressing the needs of the public in this area.
Commissioner Hansen stated that it should be clear that it was the Commissioners who came to that “general consensus.” She stated that she believes what is outlined in the policies and priorities should be items that the Commission pursues proactively. She stated that she would like to see additional priorities and that she would like to use this report to determine how the Commission can change its priorities. She stated that she wanted to be certain that it is realistic that the Commission will be able deliver on its promise to revise the Campaign Consultant Ordinance as is stated in the report.
Executive Director St. Croix stated the revision of the Campaign Consultant Ordinance is a major focus this year.
Deputy Executive Director Ng confirmed that the Campaign Consultant Ordinance revisions are a top priority for this year.
Commissioner Hansen questioned Executive Director St. Croix on whether language should be included regarding the remaining policies that will be addressed in the next year.
Executive Director St. Croix responded that the Commission should have a full discussion regarding the any other priorities.
Commissioner Hansen stated that she would like to improve the policy and legislative recommendations that the Commission makes, and inquired whether the Executive Director thought that doing so would be possible in the upcoming year.
Executive Director St. Croix responded that it is difficult to determine, and that the Commission has done a significant amount of work in the recent years revising legislation.
Chairperson Studley stated that the priority list appears appropriately balanced, and that the Commission has completed its priorities in order of importance. She stated that it is important to leave time to deal with unexpected matters. She stated that the report should convey any steps the Commission takes in order to understand how other jurisdictions deal with similar issues. She further stated that the report should reflect the change in Chair and Vice-Chair over the last year, and that on page 12, there was an omission regarding the electronic changes that have been made. She stated that the Commission should attempt to capture how those changes have been implemented.
Commissioner Hur asked Executive Director St. Croix if there was any data that reflected how successful the electronic changes have been and the number of people who access that information.
Chairperson Studley also asked if there was any data on how many people listened to the podcasts. She also stated that on p. 3, the phrase that begins with “[t]he Commission uses a five-year planning format” should be shortened and she suggested it should be replaced with “the Commission uses a five-year planning format to meet the dual needs for the Commission to satisfy its existing mandates.”
Vice-Chairperson Harriman stated that the cover memo should be changed to remove former Commissioner Gusukuma’s name.
Motion 10-08-09-1 (Harriman/Ward): Moved, seconded, and passed (5-0) that the Commission approve the Annual Report with the specified changes.
Ray Hartz stated that the Annual Report is very typical of most commission reports. There are no benchmarks or goals specified. He stated that this is what occurred in Iraq and Afghanistan, and it is unclear what is to be accomplished there. He stated that he reviewed the items proposed to the Sunshine Task Force regarding changes in how the Commission handles complaints. He stated that the application to make a complaint with the Task Force is too long. He stated that often the members of the Task Force only want to minimally apply the Sunshine Ordinance. He stated that there should not be another hearing after the Task Force has made a determination.
Chairperson Studley stated that she wanted to ensure that the Annual Report accurately reflects the work the Commission has done regarding the Sunshine Ordinance.
Executive Director St. Croix stated that as the regulations for the Sunshine Ordinance are still in development, that work would be reflected in the next annual report.
Chairperson Studley stated that the current Annual Report should state that the Commission is working on those regulations.
IV. Department of Elections Voter Information pamphlet. (Discussion and possible actions.)
Executive Director St. Croix stated that the Department of Elections provides extra pages in its Voter’s Guide that may be available to boards and commissions to promote a board or commission’s work. He stated that submissions are included in the Voter’s Guide on a lottery basis.
Commissioner Hansen stated that this was a good idea and that the proposed text to be submitted accurately covers the Commission’s jurisdiction. She stated that the appearance of the ad could be more interesting.
Vice-Chairperson Harriman stated that she appreciated that the ad was easy to read and did not want the ad to lose its easily readable format by the inclusion of extra artwork.
Commissioner Hur stated that the Commission’s letterhead should be included.
Chairperson Studley agreed with Commissioner Hur that the ad should look more official.
Ray Hartz stated that he was an election field deputy in 2008 in Bayview. He stated that the African-American community believed the San Francisco Police Department was targeting polling places in order to arrest persons with outstanding warrants. He stated that he witnessed two officers enter the polling place which caused everyone to stop voting. He stated that more outreach should be made to the African-American community.
V. Closed session.
Motion 10-08-09-2 (Harriman/Hur): Moved, seconded, and passed (5-0) that the Commission go into closed session.
VI. Closed session held pursuant to Charter section C3.699-13, Brown Act section 54956.9 (a) and (c) and Sunshine Ordinance section 67.10(d): Public Employee Performance Evaluation: Executive Director, Ethics Commission.
The Commission went into closed session at 6:12 p.m.
The Commission returned to open session at 6:50 p.m.
VII. Discussion and vote regarding closed session action and deliberations. (Discussion and possible action.)
Motion 10-08-09-3 (Harriman/Hur): Moved, seconded, and passed (5-0) that the Ethics Commission finds that it is in the best interests of the pubic not to disclose its closed session deliberations.
VIII. Minutes of the Commission’s regular meeting of July 12, 2010. (Discussion and possible action.)
Commissioner Harriman stated that the phrase attributed to her, “Vice-Chairperson Harriman stated that any broad correspondence must be conducted in a fair manner,” does not reflect what she expressed. She stated that she was only concerned that the Commission does not send out spam emails.
Chairperson Studley stated that the phrase attributed to her, “there are mechanisms to send out correspondence to a wide enough audience so as to avoid the perception of bias,” should be changed to “there may be mechanisms . . .” She stated that the minutes for the meeting of July 12, 2010, were brief compared to past meetings’ minutes and suggested that Commissioner’s state any thoughts they may have regarding the format of the minutes. She stated that the compacted sentences in the minutes can blunt the meaning of the idea or point that a Commissioner intended to express.
Chairperson Studley stated that the phrase “regarding that matter” in the last sentence under Item III is too broad and suggested to replace it with “to brainstorm some proposals for letting members of the public know about the Commission’s work and the opportunity to receive information that avoid technology and selectivity concerns and present those options to the Commission.”
Motion 10-08-09-4 (Harriman/Hansen): Moved, seconded and passed (5-0) to approve the minutes of the July 12, 2010, Regular Meeting subject to the proposed revisions.
IX. Executive Director’s Report. An update of important Ethics Commission staff activities since the previous monthly meeting. (Discussion.)
Executive Director St. Croix stated that an informal written advice letter to Michael Kim was included in this meeting’s agenda packet without a cover memo. He explained that the letter does not require Commission approval. He stated that $1, 800,000 has been set aside by the Mayor’s Office to be restored to the election campaign fund.
X. Items for future meetings. Commissioners may propose items for future agendas and the Commission may determine the priority of these items. (Discussion.)
Executive Director St. Croix stated that staff has completed the draft Sunshine Ordinance Regulations, but they are being submitted to the Task Force for comment.
XI. Public comment on matters appearing or not appearing on the agenda that are within the jurisdiction of the Ethics Commission.
Motion 10-08-09-5 (Hansen/Harriman): Moved, seconded and passed (5-0) that the Commission adjourn.
The meeting adjourned at 6:59 p.m.