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Minutes – June 28, 2011


Minutes of the Special Meeting of
The San Francisco Ethics Commission
June 28, 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 2:00 PM.

COMMISSION MEMBERS PRESENT: Benedict Y. Hur, Chairperson; Jamienne S. Studley, Vice-Chairperson; Beverly Hayon, Commissioner; Dorothy S. Liu, Commissioner; Charles L. Ward, Commissioner.

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

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

OTHERS PRESENT: Doug Shoemaker, Ray Hartz, Thomas Picarello, Diane Spaulding, John Stewart, Tim Colon, Chris Block, Anna Yee, Rita O'Flynn, Don Falk, David Pilpel, Charley Marsteller, and other unidentified members of the public.

– Memorandum re: Request for Waiver from Post Employment Ban, dated June 7, 2011
– Letter from Doug Shoemaker in support of Request for Waiver, dated June 22, 2011

II. Consideration of whether, under S.F. Campaign and Governmental Conduct Code section 3.234(c), the Commission should grant a waiver to Doug Shoemaker, the Director of the Mayor's Office of Housing, from the ban on compensation from contractors in San Francisco Campaign and Governmental Conduct Code section 3.234(a)(3).

Executive Director St. Croix introduced the waiver request.

Doug Shoemaker stated that he accepted his position in the Mayor's office to advance the important work of affordable housing. He stated that he never used his position to seek other employment, and that he has a sincere desire to continue this type of work. He also stated that he has many roles as the Director, and that for some contract approvals he plays an active role and for others his role is ministerial. He stated that of the 175 contracts he signed in the last 12 months, five were for Mercy House. He stated that the affordable housing community is a very small and a specialized field. He stated that he would have the same conflict with any employer who worked with the City to obtain funding.

Commissioner Liu stated that she does not take waiver requests lightly, but there is a need to balance the purpose of the code and the right of an individual to pursue employment. She stated that the code has a built in exemption for hardship and that Mr. Shoemaker meets the factors to grant the hardship exemption.

Commissioner Hayon stated that given the small field of employers, Mr. Shoemaker is unduly restricted in pursuing employment outside of government in this field. She stated that it is important to keep families in the City and that Mr. Shoemaker has met the conditions to grant a waiver.

Vice-Chairperson Studley stated that she agreed with Commissioner Liu regarding the need to balance the code against an individual's rights. She stated that the balancing test was considered by the voters when they voted to include a hardship waiver process in the law. She stated that the waiver process itself aids in vetting out whether or not there was any impropriety in seeking outside employment by a government official.

Chairperson Hur stated that it is important to consider how extreme the hardship must be before granting a waiver under that exemption. He stated that it is unclear what the dichotomy is between not granting the waiver and Mr. Shoemaker leaving the City to find employment.

Public Comment:

Ray Hartz stated that the Commission should not have scheduled this matter for a special meeting. He stated that the law exists to protect the residents of San Francisco. He stated that Mr. Shoemaker has the ability to garner support for his application. He stated that Mr. Shoemaker knew about the restriction when he accepted City employment and the waiver should be denied.

Thomas Picarello stated that the Commission should discuss the Grand Jury report at its next meeting. He stated that this situation is of the type the voters had in mind when it enacted the law. He stated that the Commission should deny the waiver request.

Diane Spaulding stated that she is part of an organization that represents affordable housing developers. She stated that the state is cutting redevelopment agency funding, which is the most used local source for affordable housing, so it is important to recruit leaders who understand the field. Ms. Spaulding also responded to Vice-Chairperson Studley, stating that there only about nine full-capacity non-profit affordable housing developers working in the City. She urged the Commission to approve the waiver.

John Stewart stated that his company builds affordable housing in the City and he has known Mr. Shoemaker for many years. He stated that the field is very specialized and it is likely that the best candidates to go into the non-profit sector would be those in government who understand the laws. He urged the Commission to approve the waiver.

Chris Block stated that he has been in the affordable housing community for over 20 years and that a very limited number of similar positions ever come available. He urged the Commission to approve the waiver.

Anna Yee stated that she was a native of San Francisco and an attorney. She stated that she came to support the waiver, and that Mr. Shoemaker did not ask her to come. She stated she also works in the affordable housing field and that Mercy House is a credible organization.

Rita O'Flynn stated that despite the emotional testimony in support of Mr. Shoemaker, he should not be exempt from the Charter requirement. She stated that Mr. Shoemaker has not proved an extreme hardship to qualify for the exemption. She stated that the exemption can only be granted by demonstrated facts. She stated that Mr. Shoemaker attempted to distance himself from his involvement in Mercy House contracts in his second letter in support of the waiver, and that because he approved those contracts the waiver should not be granted.

Don Falk stated that he is an affordable housing developer. He stated that every new mayor has appointed a new Director of Housing, so it is likely after the election Mr. Shoemaker will be removed from his position. He stated that executive level positions in the affordable housing community are very rare. He also stated that the loan granting process is very complex and goes through multiple layers of review.

David Pilpel stated that the Commission should have a discussion about the standards to grant an exemption outside of the context of any one applicant. He stated that given the past precedent applying the standards, the Commission should grant this waiver.

Charley Marsteller stated that the original ban on employment was for two years. He stated that Mr. Shoemaker has a high sense of integrity.

Vice-Chairperson Studley stated that she does not know Mr. Shoemaker, but that she works for an organization that advocates for affordable housing. She stated that she does know Ms. Spaulding. She also stated that the Commission should set a future agenda item regarding The application of the extreme hardship standard.

Motion 11-28-06-01 (Ward/Hayon): Moved, seconded, and passed (4-1; Hur dissenting) that the Commission grant the waiver request.

III. Adjournment.

Motion 11-28-06-2 (Hayon/Liu) Moved, seconded, and passed (5-0) that the Ethics Commission adjourn.

Public Comment:

Meeting adjourned at 2:52 PM.

Respectfully submitted,

Garrett Chatfield

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