Minutes of the Regular Meeting of
The San Francisco Ethics Commission
November 25, 2013
Room 400, City Hall
1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place
San Francisco, CA 94102
I. Call to order and roll call.
Chairperson Hayon called the meeting to order at 5:31 PM.
COMMISSION MEMBERS PRESENT: Beverly Hayon, Chairperson; Brett Andrews, Commissioner; Peter Keane, Commissioner. Commissioners Hur and Renne were excused. Chairperson Hayon welcomed Commissioner Keane to the Ethics Commission.
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: An unidentified member of the public.
– November 20, 2013 staff report and draft amendment to Ethics Commission Regulation 67.33-1;
– November 20, 2013 staff report and draft Ethics Commission Regulation 15.102-1;
– November 20, 2013 staff report and draft Ethics Commission Regulation 1.126-7;
– November 20, 2013 staff report and draft Ethics Commission Regulation 3.216-1;
– Draft minutes of the Commission’s Regular Meeting of October 28, 2013;
– Executive Director’s Report.
II. Public comment on matters appearing or not appearing on the agenda that are within the jurisdiction of the Ethics Commission.
The Commission agreed to join Agenda Items 3 and 4.
III. & IV. Discussion and possible action on draft amendments to Sunshine Ordinance Regulation 67.33-1 and discussion and possible action on draft regulation to permit a filer to submit a declaration of compliance with Government Code section 53235 (AB 1234).
Executive Director St. Croix stated that staff’s proposals were meant to expand the number of ways City officials and employees may file their forms. He stated that currently the forms are only accepted in person at the Ethics Commission office and that staff proposes allowing filing via facsimile or e-mail. He stated that the proposal also authorizes the Commission to set up a format for all electronic filing in the future.
Commissioner Keane noted a typographical error on the first bullet point of the proposed “Certificate of Ethics Training,” which stated that the deadline for filing was March 2, 2014. Deputy Director Ng stated that staff would correct the error and noted that no one had used this form.
Motion 13-11-25-1 (Keane/Andrews) Moved, seconded, and passed (3-0; Hur and Renne excused) that the Commission approve the amendments to Ethics Commission Regulation 67.33-1 and draft Regulation 15.102-1, as amended.
VI. Discussion and possible action on draft regulations to clarify the reporting requirements of San Francisco Campaign and Governmental Conduct Code section 3.216.
[The Commission heard Agenda Item VI before Agenda Item V.]
Executive Director St. Croix stated that staff receives many questions from elected officials and their staff regarding the form. He explained the proposals. Deputy Director Ng stated that the amendments reflect what is effective in state law now. She also suggested amendments to the draft proposals to clarify this.
Motion 13-11-25-2 (Andrews/Keane) Moved, seconded, and passed (3-0; Hur and Renne excused) that the Commission adopt the four decision points with the recommended staff changes.
V. Discussion and possible action on draft regulation to provide a method by which candidates and committees may meet the due diligence requirements of the contractor ban under San Francisco Campaign and Governmental Conduct Code section 1.126.
Executive Director St. Croix stated that staff’s proposal would provide a method by which candidates and committees may meet the due diligence requirements of the contractor ban in section 1.126. He stated that it is currently difficult for candidates to know which contributors should not be making contributions. He stated that this proposal would not be mandatory for all committees, but that staff believes the proposed language would be helpful for those committees who choose to use it.
Chairperson Hayon asked whether the law banned the contributor from donating. Executive Director St. Croix stated that both the contractor and the candidate are liable for the unlawful contribution. He stated that this certification would put both parties on notice as it would alert contributors that they may be barred from making contributions and provide some relief to a committee. Deputy Director Ng stated that having this language on printed material that a contributor would see would be a way for candidates to have a way to see who is barred from contributing under section 1.126.
Commissioner Keane suggested that the Commission make the language mandatory. Deputy Director Ng stated that if the language were mandatory, it may dissuade contributions; also, grassroots candidates may have a more difficult time creating forms with the proposed language and asking all contributors to complete them. Executive Director St. Croix suggested making the language optional now and make it mandatory in the future.
Motion 13-11-25-3 (Keane/Andrews) Moved, seconded, and passed (3-0; Hur and Renne excused) that the Commission adopt draft regulations.
VII. Discussion and possible action on the minutes of the Commission’s meeting of October 28, 2013.
Motion 13-11-25-4 (Andrews/Kean) Moved, seconded, and passed (3-0; Hur and Renne excused) that the Commission approve the minutes as written.
VIII. Discussion of Executive Director’s Report.
Executive Director St. Croix reminded the Commissioners that the anti-harassment training is due by December 31, 2013. He stated that Form 700s will be all electronic filing next year. He stated that there are two scheduled trainings for filers – February 5, 2014 and March 5, 2014. He also applauded the work of Steven Massey, the Commission’s IT Officer.
Executive Director St. Croix also announced that this meeting was Deputy Director Ng’s last meeting. Commissioner Keane stated that he had had several discussions with Deputy Director Ng, a former student, over the past few weeks and stated that he and the other Commissioners will miss her and wish her well. Commissioner Andrews agreed. He stated that she reminded him of his former Deputy Director who retired in August. He stated that he suspected that the Deputy Director runs the office. He thanked her for her service and stated that her work for the City and County has been meaningful. Chairperson Hayon stated that she did not know what the Commission would do without her. She stated that when people say disparaging words about government employees she assumes it is because they have never encountered anyone like her. She stated that Deputy Director Ng has done so much for the Commission. Deputy Director Ng thanked everyone for their comments and stated that she has really appreciated working with the Commission and every member of staff. She thanked them and stated it has been a great experience. Chairperson Hayon invited Deputy Director Ng to attend meetings and make public comment.
Commissioner Andrews asked Executive Director St. Croix for clarification on the numbers regarding revenues. Executive Director St. Croix stated that he would check them.
IX. Items for future meetings.
Commissioner Andrews asked about the status of the Chiu-Herrera legislation. DCA Shen stated that it was still being amended and the committee has not been scheduled yet. He stated that the parties would like to move it forward fairly soon.
Commissioner Keane stated that he would like to discuss the Executive Director’s power to dismiss complaints. He raised the example of a matter that was being investigated as a criminal matter. He stated that it may be investigated by the District Attorney and if the District Attorney’s Office asks the Commission to stay out of the way, then the Commission should. He stated that the Commission should keep track of the matter, as the District Attorney may decide not to go forward with it. He stated that he would suggest deferring the matter instead of dismissing the matter. Executive Director St. Croix stated that the Commission could always reopen a matter. He stated a problem with deferring the matter is that staff has performance measures and the length of time it takes to complete a complaint is one of those measures. Commissioner Keane stated that he would prefer to take a hit on the Commission’s statistics. He stated that he would rather risk that than the idea of someone who has committed an ethical breach and the Commission did nothing and no one else did anything about it.
Chairperson Hayon stated that a complaint frequently heard is that too many cases are dismissed and why were the cases dismissed. She stated that a good discussion to have would be to see if there is something the Commission can do. She stated that when the public hears “Ethics Commission,” she thinks the majority of the public have a completely different notion of what the Commission actually does. She suggested going through what the Commission actually does during a public meeting.
Commissioner Andrews asked how many cases there are per year where another agency takes jurisdiction over the matter. He suggested asking for a waiver for those particular cases, with regards to the performance measures.
X. Public comment on matters appearing or not appearing on the agenda that are within the jurisdiction of the Ethics Commission.
Motion 13-11-25-5 (Keane/Andrews) Moved, seconded, and passed (3-0; Hur and Renne excused) that Commissioner Keane be recused from voting to approve the annual report.
The meeting adjourned at 6:12 PM.