Minutes of the Regular Meeting of
The San Francisco Ethics Commission
February 27, 2012
Room 400, 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 5:31 PM. Chairperson Hur welcomed and introduced the new Commissioner, Paul Renne. He stated that Commissioner Renne is an attorney and an appointee of the District Attorney.
COMMISSION MEMBERS PRESENT: Benedict Y. Hur, Chairperson; Jamienne Studley, Vice-Chairperson; Beverly Hayon, Commissioner; Dorothy S. Liu, Commissioner; and Paul A. Renne, Commissioner.
STAFF PRESENT: John St. Croix, Executive Director; Mabel Ng, Deputy Executive Director; Catherine Argumedo, Investigator/Legal Analyst.
OFFICE OF THE CITY ATTORNEY: Andrew Shen, Deputy City Attorney (DCA).
OTHERS PRESENT: Jill Bourne, Deputy City Librarian; Donna Marion; Robert Selna; Joe Boss; Andrea Grimes; David Pilpel; and other unidentified members of the public.
– Staff Memorandum re: Proposed Amendments to the Statement of Incompatible Activities (SIA) of the San Francisco Public Library, dated February 22, 2012.
– Draft San Francisco Public Library and Commission SIA.
– Documents relating to the Proposed Amendments to the San Francisco Public Library SIA, including Collection Development Policy, Collection Development Plan, San Francisco Public Library Collection Levels, Selection Criteria, Materials Budget Allocation and Collection Priorities, Exhibitions Policy, Exhibition Guidelines, Library Bill of Rights, and Code of Ethics of the American Library Association.
– Staff memorandum re: Request for Waiver from Robert Selna of one-year post-employment restriction, dated February 22, 2012.
– Waiver Request of San Francisco Campaign and Governmental Conduct Code section 3.234(a)(2)(b)(1)’s one year restriction on communicating with City departments, from Robert Selna, dated February 13, 2012.
– Addendum to waiver request from Robert Selna, dated February 22, 2012.
– Draft Minutes of the Regular Meeting of the San Francisco Ethics Commission on January 23, 2012.
– Executive Director’s Report to the Ethics Commission for the Meeting of February 27, 2012.
II. Public comment on matters appearing or not appearing on the agenda that are within the jurisdiction of the Ethics Commission.
III. Proposed amendments to the Statement of Incompatible Activities (SIA) for the San Francisco Public Library.
Deputy Director Ng stated that staff’s memorandum included changes that the Commission had suggested during a previous meeting. She stated that Jill Bourne, the Deputy City Librarian was present and available to answer questions, if necessary.
Commissioner Studley asked about Item D on page 3 of staff’s memorandum, which relates to exhibits booked into the Library. Ms. Bourne stated that the exhibit envoy was one example and that exhibits are a small part of the Library’s overall operations. She stated that exhibits go through the contracts process as well.
Chairperson Hur asked whether any for-profit entities book exhibits with the Library. Ms. Bourne stated that she could not think of any specific examples and that the Library works mostly with exhibits that move around the country, like those from the Smithsonian.
Commissioner Studley asked whether Library staff provides training through outside agencies to SF Public Library staff. Ms. Bourne stated that Library staff is often called on to provide training state-wide. Ms. Bourne stated that the Library wanted its staff to provide instruction to colleagues and the community.
Commissioner Hayon asked who hires the training entities for the Library. Donna Marion, the Library’s Human Resources Director, stated that the Library had a training officer and that office would seek a vendor to offer the specific type of training sought. Ms. Marion stated that the training officer would discuss the potential vendor with Ms. Marion.
Commissioner Hayon stated that the Library has a stellar reputation and that she would be concerned about preventing Library staff from training other institutions.
Commissioner Liu asked about the process in choosing exhibits and what, if any, involvement staff has in that process. Ms. Bourne referenced the Exhibits Guidelines and Exhibits Policy, which were included in the agenda packet. She stated that the Exhibits Committee meets quarterly and plan one to two years in advance.
David Pilpel stated that he supports adopting these changes. He requested that the attachments provided with the draft SIA be linked on final version.
Andrea Grimes, a member of the Special Collections staff at the Library stated that Library staff had lots of input into this SIA. She stated that staff and administration worked well together on the changes and recommendations. She stated that she was happy that this document would be approved.
Motion 12-02-27-1 (Hayon/Studley): Moved, seconded, and passed (5-0) that the Ethics Commission approve the amendments to the San Francisco Public Library SIA.
IV. Consideration of request for waiver from the one-year post-employment ban under Campaign and Governmental Conduct Code sections 3.234(a)(2) and 3.234(b)(1).
Deputy Director Ng stated that Robert Selna, former aide to Supervisor Mirkarimi, had requested this waiver.
Robert Selna thanked the Commission for its review of his request and provided background for the Commissioners. He explained his current job search and stated that public affairs work would be a natural fit for him. He stated that he had not held a powerful position and that he mostly dealt with other legislative aides and lower-level staff. He also stated that he had worked as an aide for former Supervisor Mirkarimi for only ten months. He stated that he has been waiting for an opening in a City department and that he has been unemployed for two months. He requested a broad waiver to the post-employment restriction. He then urged the Commission to grant the waiver in order to allow him to communicate with all City departments, except for the Sheriff’s Department.
Commissioner Liu stated that it was difficult since the Commission is unaware of his anticipated communications. She asked if he was seeking work relating to real estate and land use matters. Mr. Selna stated that he was seeking full-time work with the City and any short-term work. He stated that he had a potential for contract work for Fort Mason Center, as it is attempting to extend the F line to Fort Mason. He stated that this work could involve outreach to the community, as well as helping with the Center’s website and generating positive media. He stated that his work could potentially lead to Recreation and Park’s environmental review, where the Center could need him to communicate with that department. Commissioner Liu stated that it is all speculative and his request seems premature. She stated that if the Commission granted his waiver, then it would appear that the post-employment ban does not apply to a legislative aide who only worked for 10 months and she was not comfortable with that decision.
Commissioner Hayon agreed with Commissioner Liu. She stated that Mr. Selna had presented a problem that does not exist yet. She stated that the legislation is not intended to stop him or anyone from seeking employment. She stated that he could obtain a public affairs position and may not necessarily need to have contact with the City. She stated that if he were offered a position and there would be a potential problem, then that would be the time for him to return and request a waiver.
Commissioner Renne asked whether the Commission had ever given a blanket waiver like the one Mr. Selna has requested. Ms. Ng stated that the Commission had not.
Mr. Selna stated that he has been competing with many people for a small number of available positions and the limitation on his ability to communicate with the City makes it harder to compete.
Commissioner Studley stated that she had worked under post-government employment bans herself. She stated that the Commission could act in a timely way once Mr. Selna comes forward with a specific set of circumstances and review a request for a waiver. She stated that she was not comfortable acting under these circumstances.
Chairperson Hur asked whether contract work for Fort Mason was still viable. He stated that the Commission was sympathetic to his situation, but that Mr. Selna was asking for something that is unprecedented. He stated that his limited experience as an aide would be more persuasive. Mr. Selna stated that he would be happy to return and submit another request, but stated concern that the Commission meets on a monthly basis. Chairperson Hur stated that the Commission has scheduled special meetings for waivers in the past.
Joe Boss stated that he is a San Francisco native and that he provides strategy for businesses and developers, based on his activism in the Dogpatch neighborhood. He stated that he came to the meeting tonight as a character witness for Mr. Selna. He stated that he always found Mr. Selna to be a straight-forward and ethical reporter. He also stated that he is constantly accused of being a lobbyist. He stated that Mr. Selna is a great asset to the City.
David Pilpel stated that the issue is premature and that the Commission is unable to evaluate based on this specific request, even for Fort Mason. He stated that the criteria have not been met and that the Commission should not grant the broad waiver. He also suggested that when an individual is leaving City employment for another compensated position, that individual should pay a fee for the deliberation of a waiver request.
Chairperson Hur stated that a waiver would be forthcoming if Mr. Selna returned with more facts regarding a position.
The Commission took no action.
Commissioner Studley asked staff how City employees are advised of Ethics rules that apply to their positions, when hired or prior to hiring. Ms. Ng stated that all employees are issued an employee handbook, which references the Commission, SIAs, and conflict of interest laws. She stated that the handbook does not summarize every rule, but that every employee is advised to contact Commission staff with any questions. She also stated that all of this information is posted on the Commission’s website. Commissioner Studley suggested referencing this restriction in the offer letter.
V. Election of Chair and Vice-Chair.
Commissioner Hayon nominated Chairperson Hur for a second term as Chair of the Ethics Commission.
Commissioner Liu noted a “thumbs up” from David Pilpel.
The Commission voted and elected (5-0) Chairperson Hur to serve as Chair of the Ethics Commission for the coming year.
Commissioner Liu nominated Commissioner Studley for a second term as Vice-Chair of the Ethics Commission.
David Pilpel stated that he agreed with the nominations, but also stated that the public expects some level of rotation.
The Commission voted and elected (5-0) Vice-Chairperson Studley to serve as Vice-Chair of the Ethics Commission for the coming year.
VI. Minutes of the Commission’s regular meeting of January 23, 2012.
Ms. Ng noted that Hillary Ronen was misspelled.
David Pilpel noted that on the middle of page 3, the minutes should read “Public Library” instead of “Library.” He also stated that the reference to DCA Shen should be spelled out on the top of page 4.
Motion 12-02-27-2 (Hayon/Studley): Moved, seconded, and passed (5-0) that the Ethics Commission approve the minutes of the Ethics Commission’s regular meeting of January 23, 2012, as amended.
VII. Executive Director’s Report.
Executive Director St. Croix left the meeting due to illness.
David Pilpel pointed out typographical errors on page 3, where the year should be listed as “2012” and not “2011.” He also noted that two current College Board members remain on the BDR list.
Commissioner Studley asked about the joint meeting with the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force. Chairperson Hur stated there had been a tentative date of February 24, where all Commissioners could attend, but that the Task Force had a staffing issue and could not attend the meeting. He stated that the meeting looks likely to occur in April, which is later than any of the Commissioners wanted. He stated that the Commission wanted as much participation as possible.
VIII. Items for future meetings.
David Pilpel stated that he was aware of a recent complaint and a response letter that was shown to him by a complainant. He stated that it was worth having a discussion regarding the post-employment waiver and the interpretation of “personally and substantially” involved.
IX. Public comment on matters appearing or not appearing on the agenda that are within the jurisdiction of the Ethics Commission.
Chairperson Hur welcomed Commissioner Renne.
The meeting was adjourned at 7:08 PM.