Ethics Commission
City and County of San Francisco

Minutes – October 27, 2014

Minutes of the Regular Meeting of
The San Francisco Ethics Commission
October 27, 2014
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 5:38 PM. 

COMMISSION MEMBERS PRESENT: Benedict Y. Hur, Chairperson; Paul Renne, Vice-Chairperson; Brett Andrews, Commissioner; Beverly Hayon, Commissioner; Peter Keane, Commissioner.

STAFF PRESENT: John St. Croix, Executive Director; Jesse Mainardi, Deputy Executive Director; Steven Massey, Information Technology Officer; Garrett Chatfield, Investigator/Legal Analyst; Catherine Argumedo, Investigator/Legal Analyst.

OFFICE OF THE CITY ATTORNEY: Joshua White, Deputy City Attorney (DCA).

OTHERS PRESENT: Jennifer M. Rodrigues; Patrick Monette-Shaw; Asha John, Code For America’s SF Brigade; Peter Hall, Code For America’s SF Brigade; Steven Eberling, Code For America’s SF Brigade; David Pilpel; and other unidentified members of the public.

MATERIALS DISTRIBUTED:

  • Hearing Brief and Appendix, Re Ethics Complaint No. 18-121029;
  • Hearing Brief and Appendix, Re Ethics Complaint No. 14-131112;
  • Draft minutes of the Commission’s Regular Meeting of September 22, 2014;
  • Executive Director’s Report;
  • List of items for future meetings mentioned by Commissioners during the past year, created by the Executive Director.

II. Public comment on matters appearing or not appearing on the agenda that are within the jurisdiction of the Ethics Commission.

Patrick Monette-Shaw stated that he hoped the Commission would discuss his second complaint that the Director dismissed.  He stated that he was disturbed to see Mr. Mainardi’s policy decision paper on Sunshine referrals and noted that it was not on the agenda.  He stated that Mr. Mainardi already presented it to the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force in two separate meetings prior to any discussion before the Commission.

III. Presentation by representatives of Code For America’s SF Brigade regarding its campaign finance data visualization project for the November 4, 2014 election.

Steven Massey, the Ethics Commission’s Information Technology Officer, introduced representatives from Code for America’s SF Brigade.  He stated that he and Deputy Executive Director Mainardi met with their group this summer.

Asha John stated that their organization brings people working in technology together with civic groups that need assistance but that do not have funding to hire people.  She stated that the members of the SF Brigade are volunteers.  She stated that the SF Brigade takes the information and makes it more accessible to the public.  She presented various visualizations and thanked Mr. Massey and Mr. Mainardi.  She also presented a visualization the group had created regarding incumbents, which had merged information from the lobbying site so that users could see who is lobbying members of the Board of Supervisors.

Peter Hall discussed challenges his group has faced with some of the data available.  He stated that it was difficult to make sense of all of the information, since there is so much available and, due to human error, some of the reporting is inconsistent.  He stated that it would be better to have more consistent electronic reporting.

Steven Eberling stated that he worked on organizing and understanding the data.  He stated that there are a number of technical issues with the reporting, especially when attempting to combine multiple data sources.  He stated that the Brigade hopes to join other datasets and make other visualizations.  He also stated that his group has faced difficulty in finding a place to host the datasets, once they are completed.

Chairperson Hur asked for the website name: transparentvoting.com.  Commissioner Andrews thanked them for the presentation.  Commissioner Hayon asked whether this would be a permanent project.  Ms. John stated that the project was ongoing and part of Code for America.  Executive Director St. Croix agreed to include a permanent link on the Commission’s website.  Commissioner Keane thanked them for their work and expressed interest in learning where money was coming from in the elections.  Commissioner Hayon asked whether the group had worked with any other organizations.  Ms. John stated that many nationally-recognized organizations focus on the federal level.  She stated that there are not many groups working on this type of data on the state or local level. 

Commissioner Hayon also asked staff whether there would be future collaborations.  Mr. Massey stated that he hoped the relationship would continue and he has already received interest from Oakland, San Jose, and Sacramento.

Chairperson Hur thanked the group for their presentation and their volunteer work.

Public Comment:
Patrick Monette-Shaw complimented the group and encouraged them to continue working with Mr. Massey.

David Pilpel stated that it would have been nice to receive an explanation about the color codes.  He also stated that the data is inconsistent due to typographical errors or wrong addresses, so it is difficult to aggregate data.

IV. Hearing on the Merits in Re Ethics Complaint No. 18-121029, In the Matter of Bob Squeri, Bob Squeri for District 7 Supervisor 2012, Respondent.

[The complete court reporter’s transcript of this agenda item will be posted on the Commission’s website.  A copy of the transcript will also be available for review at the Commission office during regular business hours.]

Garrett Chatfield made a presentation to the Commission.  The Respondent was not present and did not submit a response to the Hearing Brief.  The Commissioners discussed the matter, including the penalty amount, and asked Mr. Chatfield questions.

Motion 14-10-27-01 (Keane/Hayon) Moved and seconded that the Ethics Commission find violations as stated in the complaint with an administrative penalty of $1,000 per count, for a total penalty of $2,000.

Public Comment:
David Pilpel stated that the Commission has a history of settling this type of violation.  He recalled a prior Commission discussion where Chairperson Hur expressed the importance of maintaining a large font size for disclosures.  He agreed with the proposed $2,000 penalty.

Motion 14-10-27-01 passed by a vote of 4-1 (Renne dissented).

V. Hearing on the Merits in Re Ethics Complaint No. 14-131112, In the Matter of Jacqueline Norman, Committee to Elect Norman for Supervisor 2010, Respondent.

[The complete court reporter’s transcript of this agenda item will be posted on the Commission’s website.  A copy of the transcript will also be available for review at the Commission office during regular business hours.]

Garrett Chatfield made a presentation to the Commission.  The Respondent was not present and did not submit a response to the Hearing Brief.  The Commissioners discussed the matter, including the penalty amount, and asked Mr. Chatfield questions.

Public Comment:
None.

Motion 14-10-27-02 (Keane/Renne) Moved, seconded and passed (4-1; Andrews dissented) that the Ethics Commission accept staff’s recommendation to find the violations and impose an administrative penalty of $1,500 per count, for a total penalty of $9,000.

VI. Discussion and possible regarding a complaint received or initiated by the Ethics Commission.  Possible Closed Session.

Motion 14-10-27-03 (Renne/Hayon) Moved, seconded and passed (5-0) that the Ethics Commission move into closed session.

The Commission went into closed session at 6:45 PM.  The Commission took a break from 6:45 PM to 6:52 PM.  The Commissioners, Executive Director St. Croix, Deputy Executive Director Mainardi, DCA White, Mr. Chatfield, Ms. Argumedo, and Respondent were present.  The Commission returned into open session at 8:13 PM. 

Motion 14-10-27-04 (Renne/Keane) Moved, seconded and passed (5-0) that the Ethics Commission keep its closed session deliberations confidential.

Public Comment:
Patrick Monette-Shaw asked the Commission to repeat the motion.

VII. Public Employee Performance Evaluation: Executive Director John St. Croix.  Possible Closed Session.

Motion 14-10-27-05 (Hur/Renne) Moved, seconded and passed (5-0) that the Ethics Commission move into closed session.

Public Comment:
David Pilpel stated that Executive Director St. Croix is continuing to do a good job with not enough resources.

The Commission went into closed session at 8:17 PM.  The Commissioners and Executive Director St. Croix were present until 8:37 PM.  From 8:37 PM to 8:41 PM, the Commissioners were present.  From 8:41 to 8:48 PM, the Commissioners and Mr. Massey were present.  From 8:48 PM to 8:56 PM, the Commissioners and Mr. Chatfield were present.  From 8:56 PM to 9:04 PM, the Commissioners and Deputy Executive Director Mainardi were present.  From 9:04 PM to 9:14 PM, the Commissioners and Ms. Argumedo were present.  From 9:14 PM to 9:39 PM, the Commissioners were present.  From 9:39 PM to 9:44 PM, the Commissioners and Executive Director St. Croix were present.  From 9:44 PM to 9:46 PM, the Commissioners, Executive Director St. Croix, DCA White, Deputy Executive Director Mainardi, and Ms. Argumedo were present.  The Commission returned into open session at 9:46 PM. 

Motion 14-10-27-06 (Hayon/Keane) Moved, seconded and passed (5-0) that the Ethics Commission keep its closed session deliberations confidential.

Public Comment:
None.

VIII. Discussion and possible action on the minutes of the Commission’s meeting of September 22, 2014.

Public Comment:
None.

Motion 14-10-27-07 (Renne/Keane) Moved, seconded and passed (5-0) that the Ethics Commission adopt the minutes of the Commission meeting of September 22, 2014, as written.

IX. Discussion of Executive Director’s Report.

Executive Director St. Croix noted that the technology community had provided comments on the new ballot measure dashboards created by Mr. Massey.  He stated that the dashboards also received comments from other cities’ ethics commissions. 

Public Comment:
None.

X. Items for future meetings.

Executive Director St. Croix stated that he created a list of items to discuss at future meetings mentioned during the past year.  Commissioner Hayon thanked him for the document. 

Executive Director St. Croix also noted that Deputy Executive Director Mainardi had distributed a draft of a Sunshine memorandum regarding referrals that is scheduled for next month’s agenda.  He stated that Mr. Mainardi had provided a copy to the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force a few weeks ago and had postponed the item for discussion before the Commission at their request.  Deputy Executive Director Jesse Mainardi stated that he had provided a copy for the Task Force’s review and attended one of their committee meetings.  He stated that he also distributed the memo to department heads and requested feedback. 

Public Comment:
David Pilpel stated that the Task Force had a presentation at its October meeting and again at one of its committee meetings last week.  He also mentioned Interested Persons meetings scheduled for November 10 and 13 regarding possible amendments to the Campaign Finance Reform Ordinance.

  • Adjournment.

Motion 14-10-27-08 (Hayon/Keane) Moved, seconded and passed (5-0) that the Ethics Commission adjourn.

Public Comment:
None.

The Ethics Commission adjourned the meeting at 9:52 PM.

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