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Minutes – November 23, 2015

Minutes of the Regular Meeting of
The San Francisco Ethics Commission
November 23, 2015
Room 400 City Hall
1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place
San Francisco, CA  94102

I. Call to order and roll call.

Chairperson Renne called the meeting to order at 5:32 P.M. 

COMMISSION MEMBERS PRESENT: Paul Renne, Chairperson; Brett Andrews, Vice-Chairperson; Ben Hur, Commissioner; and Peter Keane, Commissioner.  Commissioner Beverly Hayon was excused.

STAFF PRESENT: Jesse Mainardi, Acting Executive Director; Catherine Argumedo, Investigator/Legal Analyst.

OFFICE OF THE CITY ATTORNEY: Andrew Shen, Deputy City Attorney (DCA).

OTHERS PRESENT: Larry Bush; Charles Marsteller; Kevine Boggess; LeeAnn Pelham; Eileen Hansen; Debbi Lerman; Peter Cohen; Robert van Ravenswaay; and other unidentified members of the public. 


  • Memorandum from Acting Director Mainardi, re: Proposition C Implementation Issues, dated November 18, 2015;
  • Draft Annual Report for FY 14-15;
  • Acting Executive Director’s Report;
  • Draft minutes of the Regular Ethics Commission Meeting on October 26, 2015;
  • Draft minutes of the Special Ethics Commission Meeting on November 13, 2015;
  • Draft minutes of the Special Committee Meeting on September 25, 2015;
  • Draft minutes of the Special Committee Meeting on October 9, 2015;
  • Letter from San Francisco Human Services Network, re: Implementation of Proposition C – Expenditure Lobbyists, dated November 23, 2015.

II. Public comment on matters appearing or not appearing on the agenda.

Larry Bush recommended that the Commission have a two-person committee to work on the budget, as it is due in February.  He stated that the committee should look at the Commission Secretary position and the relationship with the Controller’s Office.

Chairperson Renne stated that the Commission would hold a special meeting on January 5, 2016 at 9 am to replace the cancelled December 2015 meeting. 

Charles Marsteller stated that the budget should be a piece of cake.
Kevine Boggess, Coleman Advocates for Children & Youth, commented on the implementation of Proposition C.  He stated the Commission should consider non-profit organizations like his, as parents should not lose the ability to have their voices heard.  He asked that the Commission not minimize the voices of low-income families and young people in San Francisco. 

III. Discussion and possible action regarding the Commission’s appointment of a new Executive Director.

Chairperson Renne announced that the Commission selected LeeAnn Pelham to serve as the Commission’s new Executive Director.  He stated that she would assume her duties on January 4, 2016.  He reviewed Ms. Pelham’s background, including her 19 years with the Los Angeles Ethics Commission.  He stated that the Commission selected her because of her record as manager of LA Ethics and that she was the right choice for the Commission at this time.  He also thanked the Acting Director on behalf of the full Commission for performing his duties in a highly professional manner.

Motion 151123-01 (Keane/Hur): Moved, seconded, and passed (4-0; Hayon excused) that the Commission appoint LeeAnn Pelham as the new Executive Director.

Public Comment:

LeeAnn Pelham stated there was lots of work to do and appreciated the effort it took to hire a new Director.  She stated she was looking forward to the challenges and starting the next chapter.  She stated the Commission has the opportunity to build on past successes and strengthen the organization.  She stated that she would like to look for additional resources, strengthen enforcement – including maximizing objectivity and fairness and being appropriately transparent, and initiating and shaping public policy.  She stated that she was very excited to work with the Commission, its staff, and the public.

IV. Discussion and possible action regarding Commission’s implementation of the provisions of Proposition C, the recently approved measure placed on the ballot by the Commission which imposed reporting requirements on expenditure lobbyists.

Acting Director Mainardi introduced the item.  Commissioner Hur asked Acting Director Mainardi for his thoughts on increasing the limit or changing the threshold.  Acting Director Mainardi stated any change to the threshold would require an amendment of the Ordinance, which would require a super-majority of both the Commission and the Board of Supervisors. 

Commissioner Keane stated that the people of San Francisco are well served by the Proposition and assured Mr. Boggess that he had no reason to worry.  He stated that there may be little things the Commission may have to tinker with like exemptions, but that it could be accomplished through regulations.  Chairperson Renne stated that he thought regulations would be the appropriate route to make any changes.  He also agreed with Commissioner Keane that members of small non-profits like Coleman’s are not expenditure lobbyists.  He stated that regulations could protect against any adverse impact on low-income organizations.  Vice-Chairperson Andrews stated that he raised a concern about non-profits earlier in the discussion of the ballot measure and stated there is an opportunity to seek more community input.  Commissioner Hur agreed and stated that the Commission should evaluate and make any decision after hearing from the public.

Public Comment:
Larry Bush stated that state code uses a broader definition and the Commission could modify the requirements through regulations.

Eileen Hansen stated that this ballot measure went to the voters very quickly and there was no targeted outreach to non-profits or unions.  She suggested that the Commission hold at least two IP meetings – one during the day and one in the evening.

Debbi Lerman stated that she applauded the Commission for putting good government measures on the ballot.  She stated that she had wished her organization had been part of the conversation from the beginning.  She asked the Commission to reach out to non-profits and consider an amendment process to exempt non-profits from Proposition C.

A member of the public congratulated the Commission.  She mentioned performance measures and noted that the annual report stated seventeen committees were audited while the Controller’s Office report stated there were thirty-one audits.  Acting Director Mainardi stated that staff performed seventeen audits and the remainder were performed by the Controller’s Office. 

Acting Director Mainardi stated that an interested persons meeting should occur before writing a draft and noted that regulations may not be in place when the Ordinance becomes effective on February 1, 2016.  Chairperson Renne asked staff to schedule an Interested Persons meeting before the end of December 2015 so staff could report on the discussions during its special meeting on January 5, 2016.   Commissioner Hur asked whether the Commission would consider implementing regulations during its regular January 2016 meeting.

V. Items for future meetings.

Vice-Chairperson Andrews stated that the discussion regarding Proposition C would be on the regular January 2016 meeting’s agenda.

Public Comment:
Larry Bush suggested expanding outreach to unions.

Acting Director Mainardi stated that staff sent e-mails to clubs and unions and invited them to join the Interested Persons list.  He stated the response was not large. 

Eileen Hansen asked for a copy of the outreach list and offered to assist in expanding it.  She suggested the Commission do outreach immediately and asked whether the provisions of the new law could be postponed. 

Peter Cohen, Council of Community Housing Organizations, agreed with the proposed IP meetings.  He stated that the new law has a chilling effect on non-profit advocacy.  He stated that there is good intent in the law, but it was not designed well enough.  He stated that his council has twenty-three well-known housing organizations and none of those organizations heard about the proposed ballot measure.
Rob van Ravenswaay stated that the Commission should, before making any changes to the Ordinance, consider whether any amendments further the purpose of the Ordinance.

Eileen Hansen asked that the Commission create a ballot measure regarding Prop J for the ballot in June or November 2016.  Chairperson Renne stated that the June 2016 ballot was too optimistic, but that the Commission would discuss the matter.

VI. Discussion and possible action on an Annual Report for Fiscal Year 2014-2015. 

Acting Director Mainardi presented the changes to the draft report proposed by the Commission during the regular October 2015 meeting.

Motion 151123-02 (Andrews/Keane): Moved and seconded that the Commission adopt the Annual Report.

Public Comment:

Larry Bush stated that the Controller’s Office report has statistics not in the annual report.  He suggested including the data and any response in the annual report.

Charles Marsteller approved of the updated version of the report.  He thanked the Commission for the appointment of such a dynamic Executive Director.  He supported Mr. Bush’s comments.

Motion 151123-03 (Hur/Andrews): Moved, seconded, and passed (4-0; Hayon excused) that the Commission adopt the Annual Report, including a link to the Controller’s Office report in a footnote.

Public Comment

VII. Discussion of Acting Executive Director’s Report. 

[The Commission discussed Agenda Item VIII before discussing Agenda Item VII.] 

Chairperson Renne stated that the Commission is scheduled to have a special meeting on January 5, 2016 at 9 am in Room 416 regarding the budget.  He stated that staff will also report on the IP meeting regarding Proposition C.  

Public Comment:

VIII. Discussion and possible action on draft minutes of the Commission’s regular meeting on October 26, 2015 and special meeting on November 13, 2015, and on draft minutes for the meetings of the Commission’s special committee on September 25, 2015 and October 9, 2015. 

Commissioner Hur thanked the Chair and Vice-Chair for vetting the candidates.  Commissioner Keane agreed.

Motion 151123-04 (Hur/Andrews): Moved, seconded, and passed (4-0; Hayon excused) that the Commission adopt the minutes of the Commission’s regular meeting on October 26, 2015 and special meeting on November 13, 2015, and for the meetings of the Commission’s special committee on September 25, 2015 and October 9, 2015, as written.

Public Comment:

IX. Adjournment. 

Motion 151123-05 (Keane/Andrews): Moved, seconded, and passed (4-0; Hayon excused) that the Commission adjourn. 

The Commissioners wished everyone a happy holiday season.  The Commission adjourned the meeting at 6:46 P.M. 

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