Minutes of the Regular Meeting of
The San Francisco Ethics Commission
February 14, 2011
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 5:34 PM. She stated that Commissioner Hansen was excused from the meeting. She stated that Commissioner Hansen’s term ended, but that there has been no new appointee for her position and she is able to continue serving on the Commission.
COMMISSION MEMBERS PRESENT: Jamienne Studley, Chairperson; Beverly Hayon, Commissioner; Benedict Y. Hur, Commissioner; Charles Ward, Commissioner. Commissioner Hansen was excused.
STAFF PRESENT: John St. Croix, Executive Director; Mabel Ng, Deputy Executive Director; Shaista Shaikh, Assistant Deputy Director; Richard Mo, Chief Enforcement Officer; Garrett Chatfield, Investigator/Legal Analyst; Catherine Argumedo, Investigator/Legal Analyst.
OFFICE OF THE CITY ATTORNEY: Mollie Lee, Deputy City Attorney.
OTHERS PRESENT: Unidentified members of the public.
– Memorandum from the Executive Director re: Fiscal Year 2011/2012 Budget Request, dated February 9, 2011.
– Staff memorandum re: Audit Selection of Year 2010 Committees, dated February 9, 2011.
– List of 2010 Audit Pool.
– Draft Minutes of the Regular Meeting of the San Francisco Ethics Commission on January 10, 2011.
– Executive Director’s Report to the Ethics Commission for the Meeting of February 14, 2011.
II. Public comment on matters appearing or not appearing on the agenda that are within the jurisdiction of the Ethics Commission
Chairperson Studley stated that the Commission would allocate three minutes to each person for public comment. She also stated that there would be time for public comment during each agenda item as well.
III. Budget Discussion.
Executive Director St. Croix stated that the Mayor’s Budget office asked the Commission to make serious cuts to next year’s budget. He stated that the Commission needs to be respectful that the City is in a budget crisis, but that the Commission is also an independent agency. He stated that he proposed the same strategy as last year and the year before last. He proposed to present a budget without the requested 10% cuts. He stated that the proposal is to make a 2.5% reduction in this year’s budget as a down payment for next year’s budget. He stated that he would like to present this year’s budget and not ask for anything more and that, ultimately, the decision would be up to the Mayor’s Office and the Board of Supervisors. He stated that all cuts would come out of personnel and fringe benefits, as there are no other available funds. He stated that the highest priority of the office is to conduct audits. He also stated that the election campaign fund is separate from the operating budget and the money does not commingle.
Chairperson Studley stated that the balance was a reasonable one and consistent with what the Commission has done in the past. She stated that the budget discussions may be more difficult this year than any other year.
Motion 11-02-14-1 (Hayon/Ward): Moved, seconded and passed (4-0) that the Commission accept the Executive Director’s strategy on the 2011-2012 budget request.
IV. Selection of Random Audits of 2010 Committees.
Executive Director St. Croix stated that there were three categories of committees and that staff will not audit committees with financial activity less than $10,000. He stated that staff can perform seven audits, in addition to the 20+ audits that are being conducted of the candidates who received public financing. Mr. St. Croix stated that staff recommends conducting four audits of committees whose activity was over $100,000 and three audits of committees whose activity was between $10,000 and $100,000. He also stated that the committee “Carole Migden for Democratic County Central Committee 2010” should not be included in the audit pool list.
Chairperson Studley asked whether the audits of committees (based on financial activity) were comparable to previous years. Ms. Shaikh stated that the odds are 13% higher for the committees in the higher financial activity level and 6% lower for the middle activity level. She stated that staff chose a larger percentage of committees with higher activity levels. Commissioner Hur asked whether there would be a material difference in the amount of work between auditing a committee with $100,000 or more in activity and one with less financial activity. Ms. Shaikh stated that each committee is different and some are more organized than others. Ms. Shaikh then invited a member of the public to help with the audit selection, who read the names of the committees in the audit pool from slips of paper and them in a box for random selection.
The member of the public read the names of the committees in the first category (those with activity above $100,000): Standing Up for Working Families, No on B, A Coalition of Teachers, Nurses Firefighters, Public Employees and Health Care Advocates; Yes on Proposition B; Standing Up to Save San Francisco – No on Measures B and K/Yes on Measures J and N, a Coalition of Teachers, Nurses Public School Parents and Labor Organizations; San Franciscans for a Better MUNI, Yes on G; Economic Recovery San Francisco, No on J & N; San Francisco Earthquake and Disaster Response Plan – Yes on B; Coalition for Civil Sidewalks – Yes on L – No on M 2010; San Francisco Firefighters Local 798, No on B; Coalition to Stimulate the Economy, No on N; Committee to Preserve Rental Housing, No on F; Janet Reilly for District 2 Supervisor 2010; Mark Farrell for District 2 Supervisor 2010; Phil Ting for Assessor 2010; Carmen for Chu for Supervisor 2010; Service Employees International Union Local 1021 Issues PAC; San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee; San Francisco Police Officers Association Issues PAC; Coalition for Sensible Government with Major Funding by San Francisco Association of Realtors; San Francisco Forward Sponsored by San Francisco Chamber of Commerce; Teachers, Nurses, MUNI riders, Neighbors and Working Families supporting Mandelman for Supervisor 2010 sponsored by Labor Organizations; Common Sense Voters, SF 2010, Vote for Mark Ferrell for District 2 Supervisor; Alliance for Jobs and Sustainable Growth, A Coalition of Labor Unions and Business Associations Supporting Scott Weiner for Supervisor 2010; Alliance for Jobs and Sustainable Growth, A Coalition of Labor Unions and Business Associations Supporting Steve Moss for Supervisor 2010; San Francisco Labor Council Labor and Neighbor Independent Expenditure PAC; Alliance for Jobs and Sustainable Growth, A Coalition of Labor and Business Associations Supporting Theresa Sparks for Supervisor 2010; Friends Supporting Debra Walker for Supervisor 2010, sponsored by Labor Organizations; San Francisco Labor and Neighbor Member Education/Political Issues Committee, sponsored by the San Francisco Labor Council; Golden Gate Restaurant Association PAC ; San Francisco SOS PAC; and Municipal Executive Association of San Francisco PAC.
The following four committees were randomly chosen for audit from this pool:
- Standing Up to Save San Francisco – No on Measures B and K/Yes on Measures J and N, a Coalition of Teachers, Nurses Public School Parents and Labor Organizations
- Phil Ting for Assessor 2010
- San Francisco Forward Sponsored by San Francisco Chamber of Commerce
- San Francisco Labor and Neighbor Member Education/Political Issues Committee, sponsored by the San Francisco Labor Council
The member of the public then read the names of the committees in the second category (those with activity between $10,000 and $100,000): Why Tuesday San Francisco – Yes on I 2010; San Francisco Rising Committee to Support San Francisco Measures D, E, I, J, N, and opposing San Francisco Measures B, G, K, and L, a Coalition of Community Organizing Groups Working for Low-Income People of Color in San Francisco; Yes on Measure A 2010; Yes on Prop D; Sidewalks Are For People – A Committee Opposed to Proposition L; Tenants for Fair Rents, A Committee to Support Proposition F; Committee to Support Our City College – Yes on A; Murase for School Board 2010; Margaret Brodkin for School Board 2010; Natasha Hoehn for Board of Education 2010; Committee to Re-Elect Supervisor Alioto-Pier 2010; Laura Spanjan for Supervisor 2010; Re-Elect Public Defender Jeff Adachi 2010; Hydra Mendoza for School Board 2010; Lawrence Wong for College Board 2010; Re-elect Dr. Anita Grier Community College Board 2010; Diane Wesley Smith Campaign for Supervisor District 10; Glendon Anna Conda Hyde for District 6 Supervisor 2010; Matt Drake for Supervisor 2010; Re-Elect Kim-Shree Maufas to Board of Education 2010; John Rizzo for Community College Board 2010; Campaign to Elect Stephen Weber District 10 Supervisor 2010; James Pan for Assessor 2010; Committee to Elect Norman for Supervisor 2010; Rachel Norton for Board of Education; Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier Legal Defense Fund; Coleman Action Fund for Children Committee; San Francisco Labor Council Labor & Neighbor; San Francisco Women's Political Committee; D10 Forward, sponsored by the San Francisco Building and Construction Trades Council; Clean SF; San Francisco Building and Construction Trades Council Political Organization of Workers for Employee Rights (POWER PAC); Protect Our Benefits; San Francisco Apartment Association PAC, sponsored by San Francisco Apartment Association; San Francisco Young Democrats; New Day for San Francisco; District 11 Democratic Club; Sierra Club San Francisco Bay Chapter Campaigns; San Francisco Parent PAC; San Francisco Building and Construction Trades Council Political Organization of Workers for Employee Rights Political Issues Committee (POWER PIC); Bay Area Firefighters PAC Fund Opposing Mark Ferrell for Supervisor 2010; Noe Valley Democratic Club; San Francisco Small Business Advocates; Asian Pacific Democratic Club PAC; Richmond District Democratic Club; and Committee on Jobs Candidate Advocacy Fund.
The following three committees were randomly chosen for audit from this pool:
- Noe Valley Democratic Club
- Protect Our Benefits
- Laura Spanjan for Supervisor 2010
Ms. Shaikh and Chairperson Studley thanked the member of the public for her assistance.
V. Election of Chair and Vice-Chair.
Chairperson Studley stated that the position of Chair has a two-year maximum, with one-year intervals. Commissioner Ward nominated Commissioner Hur for Chair of the Ethics Commission. Commissioner Hur stated that he would be honored to serve as Chair of the Commission. Commissioner Ward stated that he thought Commissioner Hur would do a fine job as Chair.
A member of the public stated that he had never attended a meeting before and asked to hear some more information about Commissioner Hur.
Commissioner Hur stated that he is an attorney in private practice. He stated that he has served on this commission for about a year. He stated that he is a former Coro Fellow in San Francisco. He also stated that he was a graduate of Harvard and Stanford Universities. He stated that he also serves on the Board of Directors of Bay Area Community Resources.
All four Commissioners present voted in favor of Commissioner Hur becoming Chair of the Ethics Commission for the next year. Chairperson Studley congratulated Commissioner Hur and applauded his commitment to the people of the City of San Francisco.
Commissioner Ward nominated Commissioner Studley for Vice-Chair of the Commission. Chairperson Studley thanked Commissioner Ward and stated that she would be happy to continue working with the Commission in that way.
Chairperson Studley stated that she was the President and Chief Executive Officer of Public Advocates, Inc., a non-profit advocacy group based in San Francisco. She stated that Public Advocates focuses on education, housing, and transit justice for low-income people. She stated that she was a graduate of Harvard Law School and Barnard College. She stated that she has served as general counsel for United States Department of Education and had been President of Skidmore College. She stated that she had served on several boards prior to the Ethics Commission and had been sitting on the Commission for five years.
All four Commissioners present voted in favor of Chairperson Studley becoming Vice-Chair of the Ethics Commission for the next year. Chairperson Studley stated that the change in leadership would go into effect at the next meeting (Editor’s note: effective March 1, 2011).
VI. Closed session.
Chairperson Studley stated that there are some matters that are meant to be confidential that the Commission hears in closed session.
Motion 11-02-14-2 (Ward/Hur): Moved, seconded and passed (4-0) that the Commission enter into closed session.
[Entered CLOSED SESSION at 6:07 PM.]
[Break at 7:31 PM.]
[Return from break at 7:38 PM.]
[Returned from CLOSED SESSION at 7:54 PM.]
VII. Discussion and vote regarding closed session action and deliberations.
Motion 11-02-14-3 (Hur/Ward): Moved, seconded and passed (4-0) that the Commission finds that it is in the best interests of the public not to disclose its closed session deliberations re: anticipated and existing legislation.
VIII. Minutes of the Commission’s regular meeting of January 10, 2011.
Chairperson Studley stated that she had one amendment to the minutes, regarding the first public comment under Item II of the agenda. She stated that the last sentence on the bottom of page 1 should be changed and staff agreed to make the appropriate changes.
Motion 11-02-14-3 (Hayon/Ward): Moved, seconded and passed (4-0) that the Commission adopt the minutes of the Commission’s regular meeting of January 10, 2011, as amended.
IX. Executive Director’s Report.
The Executive Director stated that he had provided a copy of an informal advice letter to the Commissioners. He stated that these letters offer no protection to the person seeking the informal advice, since the letters do not require Commission approval. He stated that he would be happy to answer any questions regarding the advice letter.
X. Items for future meetings.
Chairperson Studley advised that the Commissioners should advise the Executive Director or the new Chair about any items they wish to hear at a future meeting.
XI. Public comment on matters appearing or not appearing on the agenda that are within the jurisdiction of the Ethics Commission.
Motion 11-02-14-4 (Hur/Ward): Moved, seconded and passed (4-0) that the Commission adjourn.
Meeting adjourned at 8:00 PM.