Minutes of the Regular Meeting of
The San Francisco Ethics Commission
March 14, 2011
Room 408, City Hall
1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place
San Francisco, CA 94102
I. Call to order and roll call.
Chairperson Hur called the meeting to order at 5:35 PM.
COMMISSION MEMBERS PRESENT: Benedict Y. Hur, Chairperson; Jamienne Studley, Vice-Chairperson; Beverly Hayon, Commissioner; Charles Ward, Commissioner. Commissioner Hansen was 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: Kyri McClellan, Judson True, Nicole Wheaton, Ray Hartz, Anita Mayo, Kevin Hennegan, Shirley Hanson, Richard Hanson, David Pilpel, and other unidentified members of the public.
– Memorandum from the Executive Director re: Request for waiver from post-employment restrictions, dated March 9, 2011.
– Memorandum from the Executive Director re: Proposed Amendments to the Campaign Finance Reform Ordinance, dated March 10, 2011.
– Draft Minutes of the Regular Meeting of the San Francisco Ethics Commission on March 14, 2011.
– Executive Director’s Report to the Ethics Commission for the Meeting of March 14, 2011.
II. Public comment on matters appearing or not appearing on the agenda that are within the jurisdiction of the Ethics Commission
David Pilpel recognized Commissioner Hansen’s service on the Ethics Commission.
Shirley Hanson stated that the requirements to report campaign finance disclosures are onerous.
Ray Hartz stated that he submitted a statement in January to be included in the minutes. He stated that the statement should have been typed into the minutes and not attached at the end of the minutes. He also stated that in the online version of the minutes his statement must be accessed by clicking another link. He stated the Good Government Guide is not a legal opinion. [ Mr. Hartz also submitted a written statement which has been included at the end of these minutes.]
III. Consideration of whether, under S.F. Campaign and Governmental Conduct Code section 3.234(c), the Commission should grant waivers to the Office of Economic and Workforce Development employee Kyri S. McClellan from the one-year post employment communications ban (section 3.234(a)(2)), and the ban on compensation from contractors (section 3.234(a)(3)).
Executive Director St. Croix summarized the waiver request for the Commissioners.
Ms. McClellan stated that she worked as the project manager for the America’s Cup Task Force in the Office of Economic and Workforce Development. She stated that she was offered a position with the non-profit America’s Cup Organizing Committee charged with raising money to assist the City to fund the event.
Nicole Wheaton stated on behalf of the Mayor that Ms. McClellan was an essential team member securing the America’s Cup bid for the City. She stated the America’s Cup Organizing Committee will work with the City to secure funding for the event.
Judson True, legislative aide to Board of Supervisors President Chiu, stated that President Chui supported the waiver request, and that Ms. McClellan’s work with the Organizing Committee will greatly benefit the City.
Commissioner Ward stated that the memorandum indicated that Ms. McClellan would endure a professional hardship if the waiver was denied, and asked her about her career path.
Ms. McClellan stated that as part of her past project management experience, she was able to secure other beneficial contracts for the City and this opportunity allows her to pursue a similar civic service in the private sector.
Commissioner Ward asked whether Ms. McClellan intended to return to City service.
Ms. McClellan stated she could not rule out returning to a position with the City.
Vice-Chairperson Studley stated that the Ethics Commission must balance the justification of a waiver against the public policy of why the rule exists. She stated that she was concerned that aspects of this position could violate the provisions the law was intended to prevent, including an insider knowledge of the City during contract re-negotiations.
Ms. McClellan stated that she was one member of a large team, any one of whom would have the same information as she would.
Commissioner Ward stated that he is primarily concerned with the possibility of Ms. McClellan returning to City service. He stated that she might return to the City supervising employees with whom she engaged in communications while in private service and that could have some undue influence.
In response to Chairperson Hur, Ms. McClellan stated that the City would not make any payments to the Organizing Committee, and that the Organizing Committee is tasked with securing funds for the City to offset the costs of the America’s Cup event. She also responded to Chairperson Hur that she was not offered the position until after the contract negotiations were completed. She further stated that the Organizing Committee cannot re-negotiate the contract, but the City has the ability to terminate the Contract if the Organizing Committee fails to complete its obligations. She stated that the City has no monetary obligations to the Organizing Committee.
Chairperson Hur stated that the risks normally present with other contractors is not present here, as the City has no monetary obligations to the Organizing Committee.
Vice-Chairperson Studley stated that Ms. McClellan’s knowledge may give the contractor other advantages apart from monetary. She also stated that the public nature of this event might prevent any undue influence from occurring.
Executive Director St. Croix responded to Chairperson Hur that no other City employee has invoked a professional hardship as the basis for the waiver request.
Deputy Executive Director Ng clarified the hardship exemption is used for the contracting ban.
Commissioner Hur stated that the Commission can define hardship more broadly.
Commissioner Ward stated that he did not think the hardship Ms. McClellan would suffer if denied the waiver was extreme, and that he was concerned about the precedent that would be set by a broad definition.
Mr. True stated that the Organizing Committee is a different entity from the Event Committee. He stated that the Event Committee is tasked with making infrastructure investments and the possibility for contract re-negotiation exists with that entity. He stated that between the City and the Organizing Committee the obligations all flow from the Committee to the City and that the City has no obligations to the Committee. He further stated that the City and Organizing Committee have the common goal of securing funds to hold the event.
Motion 11-03-14-1 (Studley/Hayon): Moved, seconded and passed (4-0) that the Commission approve the waiver.
Ray Hartz stated that he was concerned about what might have been said in private during negotiations.
David Pilpel stated that documents referenced in the memorandum are not available, but supports the waiver. He stated the Commission should charge for waiver requests.
IV. Consideration of policy directives to staff regarding possible amendments to the Campaign Finance Reform Ordinance, San Francisco Campaign and Governmental Conduct Code section 1.100 et seq.
Executive Director St. Croix outlined for the Commission that staff would like input regarding possible changes to the Campaign Finance Reform Ordinance.
Vice-Chairperson Studley stated that she appreciated staff’s proposals to reduce some of the burden on reporting and that the proposals appear reasonable on balance.
Richard Hanson stated that small committees have great difficulty with the many disclosure and reporting requirements.
Shirley Hanson stated that to report one slate card can take hours to complete.
Ray Hartz stated that the Citizen’s United U.S. Supreme Court case has put a question mark on who is paying for elections.
Anita Mayo complimented staff for its attempt to try and simplify reporting requirements.
Kevin Hennegan suggested that staff hold an interested persons meeting to solicit input. He also suggested that staff consider using state forms rather than local forms for some of the reporting requirements.
David Pilpel stated that he thought reporting requirements should be streamlined but maintain the most transparency possible.
Deputy Executive Director Ng stated that an interested person meeting will be held on March 24, 2011.
V. Minutes of the Commission’s regular meeting of February 14, 2011.
Motion 11-03-14-2 (Ward/Hayon): Moved, seconded and passed (4-0) that the Commission adopt the minutes of the Commission’s regular meeting of February 14, 2011.
VI. Executive Director’s Report.
Executive Director St. Croix stated that the April and May meetings will probably be slightly longer. He stated that he recently attended the budget meeting regarding the public financing campaign fund. He stated two candidates have already qualified for public financing.
David Pilpel stated that the Commission should include in the Executive Director’s report a list of items for future meetings.
VII. Items for future meetings.
Executive Director St. Croix stated that the Commission will put an agenda item on a future meeting regarding priorities.
VIII. Public comment on matters appearing or not appearing on the agenda that are within the jurisdiction of the Ethics Commission.
Ray Hartz stated that he received a dismissal letter from a complaint on November 15, 2010. He stated that part of the justification was reliance on the Good Government Guide. He stated that the Good Government Guide is not a law and cannot be used as a justification to ignore a law. [Mr. Hartz also submitted a written statement which has been included at the end of these minutes.]
Motion 11-03-14-3 (Studley/Hayon): Moved, seconded and passed (4-0) that the Commission adjourn.
Meeting adjourned at 7:01 PM.