Ethics Commission
City and County of San Francisco

Minutes – May 23, 2016

Minutes of the Regular Meeting of
The San Francisco Ethics Commission
May 23, 2016
Room 400 – City Hall
1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place
San Francisco, CA 94102

1. Call to order and roll call.

Chairperson Renne called the meeting to order at 5:30 PM.

COMMISSION MEMBERS PRESENT: Paul Renne, Chairperson; Brett Andrews, Vice-Chairperson; Daina Chiu, Commissioner; Beverly Hayon, Commissioner; and Peter Keane, Commissioner.
STAFF PRESENT: LeeAnn Pelham, Executive Director; Catherine Argumedo, Investigator/Legal Analyst.
OFFICE OF THE CITY ATTORNEY: Andrew Shen, Deputy City Attorney (DCA); Joshua White, DCA.
OTHERS PRESENT: Bob Planthold; Ray Hartz; Charles Marsteller; Elena Schmid; Zack; Morgan; David; Tyler; Karin; Hulda Garfolo; Peter Cohen; Alex Kaplan; Anita Mayo; Greg Ryan; and other unidentified members of the public.

MATERIALS DISTRIBUTED:
– May 16, 2016 staff memorandum re: AGENDA ITEM 3 – Election of Commission Vice-Chair;
– May 19, 2016 staff memorandum re: AGENDA ITEM 4 – Request from Julienne Christensen for waivers from post-employment restrictions in San Francisco Campaign & Governmental Conduct Code sections 3.234(a)(2), 3.234(b)(1), and 3.234(a)(3), and attachments;
– May 9, 2016 letter and supporting documentation from Ms. Christensen;
– Chapter II of San Francisco Campaign & Governmental Conduct Code and Ethics Commission Regulations Related to Conflicts of Interest;
– May 18, 2016 staff memorandum re: AGENDA ITEM 5 – Proposal regarding a possible November 2016 ballot measure to restrict gifts, campaign contributions, and bundling by lobbyists, and attachments;
– Complaint in matter: Mark Farrell for District 2 Supervisor 2010, et al. v. City and County of San Francisco, et al, Case No. CGC-16-551745, S.F. Superior Court (filed April 29, 2016).
– San Francisco Campaign and Governmental Conduct Code section 3.230(a);
– Executive Director’s Report for the May 23, 2016 Commission Meeting;
– Draft minutes of the April 25, 2016 Ethics Commission Regular Meeting;
– Public comment on Agenda Items 4 and 5.

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

Bob Planthold, spokesperson for the Friends of Ethics, stated that a poll was completed about matters about the Ethics Commission and potential ethics matters in the City. He stated that there was support for the Commission and a ban on contributions from lobbyists.

Ray Hartz submitted a complaint against Luis Herrera and Sue Blackman. He stated that Mr. Herrera was found in violation by the FPPC and that the Library spent a year withholding documents. He stated that private individuals raise and spend funds for the Library.

The following written summary was provided by the speaker, Ray Hartz, the content of which is neither generated by, nor subject to approval or verification of accuracy by, the Ethics Commission:

This, my second complaint with Ethics, is against City Librarian Luis Herrera and Library Commission Secretary Sue Blackman, who have been found by the SOTF to have violated my rights under the Sunshine Ordinance on no less than seven specific occasions! There have actually been dozens, if not hundreds, of such violations! “The Friends of the San Francisco Public Library,” a group of private individuals, has been allowed to raise and expend funds in the name of the SFPL and the City of San Francisco. They have been allowed to do so without oversight from the library or any other city agency. Luis Herrera and Sue Blackman have engaged in a policy relating to this group that I describe as: “you don’t tell and we don’t ask!” From December 2012 until earlier this ear, more than 40 months passed without “The Friends” appearing on the Library Commission agenda.

3. Election of Officers.

Chairperson Renne stated that he had been advised by Vice-Chairperson Andrews that he would resign his seat on the Commission as of the end of the meeting. He expressed his gratitude for his work, assistance, and wisdom on the Commission, and stated that he was sad that he would not be at the Commission’s meeting in June.

Commissioner Keane echoed Chairperson Renne’s comments and stated that Vice-Chairperson Andrews has been a great colleague and will be missed. Commissioner Hayon stated that he has added so much to the discussion and asked that he not go. Commissioner Chiu echoed everyone’s comments and wished him luck.

Motion 160523-01 (Hayon/Chiu): Moved, seconded, and passed (5-0) that the Commission elect Commissioner Keane as Vice-Chairperson for the remainder of the year.

Public Comment:

Ray Hartz stated that three of the Commissioners had approved the budget decisions to keep the Commission’s budget flat for a number of years. He stated that Supervisor Farrell will abuse his position as Chair of the Budget and Finance Committee to keep the Commission from getting any money.

The following written summary was provided by the speaker, Ray Hartz, the content of which is neither generated by, nor subject to approval or verification of accuracy by, the Ethics Commission:

As you deliberate filling the position of Vice Chair of the Ethics Commission I would like you to keep in mind all of the recent discussions related to your budget. The fact that the budget was flat for a number of years was repeatedly remarked upon as a failure by the former Executive Director. I would however remind you that three commissioners, former Chair Ben Hur, current Chair Paul Renne and current Commissioner Beverly Hayon, constituted a majority of the commission during that period. As documented by the current ED, these budget choices resulted in serious deficiencies in how this commission operated, particularly as relates to a serious backlog of complaints and related investigations. While John St. Croix proposed the budget the members of the commission those years actually approved the budget. This being so, commissioners Keene and Hayon have forfeited their right to serve in any leadership position!

Charles Marsteller thanked Commissioner Andrews for his service and for the outstanding choice of Executive Director.

4. Discussion and possible action on request for waivers from local post-employment restrictions, submitted by Julienne Christensen, a former member of the Board of Supervisors.

Executive Director LeeAnn Pelham stated that Ms. Christensen indicated that she would be present for the meeting. She introduced the item and stated that staff’s memorandum outlines the requests received regarding the post-employment restrictions.

Julienne Christensen stated that she was being considered for the position and stated that she did not want to have a negative impact on the search for the position. She stated that the position calls upon her 20 years of experience in a unique way. She stated that she does not plan on using the knowledge that she gained while she was a member of the Board of Supervisors. She stated that the district’s budget is fixed with an agreement with the City. She stated that it was difficult to understand how her taking the position would have potential for any undue influence. She stated that she was asking to be able to continue her public service.

The Commissioners questioned Ms. Christensen regarding her request and potential employment. Chairperson Renne stated that the Commission does not want someone exiting the Board of Supervisors and then advocating their former colleagues on something. He stated that Ms. Christensen would bring great experience to the organization. Commissioner Keane stated that he was reluctant to grant waivers to someone who sat on the Board of Supervisors, as a person may use their knowledge and power to gain advantage. He stated, however, that he is convinced that Ms. Christensen should get the waiver, as she is not someone who is going to become a lobbyist and work for developers.

Motion 160523-02 (Keane/Hayon): Moved, seconded, and passed (5-0) that the Commission waive the post-employment restrictions in SF C&GCC sections 3.234(a)(2), 3.234(b)(1), and 3.234(a)(3), as requested by Ms. Christensen.

Public Comment:

Bob Planthold stated that staff’s memorandum was inconsistent in its logic and suggested that the Commission either grant both or deny both.

5. Discussion and possible action regarding a possible November 2016 ballot measure to restrict lobbyists’ ability to provide gifts to City officers, make campaign contributions to local candidates, and bundle contributions.

Executive Director Pelham stated that staff held two Interested Persons meetings and introduced the item. She stated that it would be helpful to have more discussion and then staff could come back to the Commission at its next regular meeting with language for a proposal. She stated that some of the proposals in staff’s memorandum differ from the proponents’ language submitted for the April 2016 meeting.

Commissioner Keane stated that staff’s language clarified a number of things in terms of all three areas on pages 3, 4, and 5. He stated that staff’s alternative language is superior to the proposal. He stated that he would be prepared to vote now on the language of the measure. Executive Director Pelham stated the deadline for submission is August 5, 2016. DCA Shen stated that the Commission must create a legislative record regarding the impact on contributions and campaign activity. He also asked whether the Commission would like to include language to allow further amendments without voter approval. Chairperson Renne suggested that the language be included and the Commission would decide at its next meeting whether to include or delete.

Public Comment:

Bob Planthold stated that he attended both IP meetings and he did not agree with the omission of the proposal applying to expenditure lobbyists.

Elena Schmid thanked Commissioner Andrews for his service and suggested that the proposed law apply to both contract and expenditure lobbyists.

Executive Director Pelham stated that it was a conscious decision to leave expenditure lobbyists out. She stated that there were no registered expenditure lobbyists. She stated that the justification for restricting these individuals may not be as persuasive. DCA Shen stated that it would be difficult to develop a legislative record regarding this issue and expenditure lobbyists, given that there are none. He stated that it would be difficult for the Commission to demonstrate that expenditure lobbyists are having an influence.

Zack from Represent.Us stated that lobbyists serve a valuable purpose and supported the proposal.

Morgan from Represent.Us stated that the IP meetings were productive and SF residents support this measure.

David from Represent.Us thanked the Commission for considering the proposal. He stated that both types of lobbyists should be included even if there is no local precedent.

Tyler from Represent.Us stated that the initiative would allow lobbyists to donate, just at a smaller level. He stated that the law makes sense.

Charles Marsteller stated that this area is the simplest one to do right now and the Commission could do more complex items like campaign finance. He suggested applying the law to both contract and expenditure lobbyists.

Karin from Represent.Us stated that there have been some positive comments and the proposals help level the playing field so that there is a sense of fair play.

Hulda Garfolo stated that there is a strong pattern of the same sort of sister city visits financed by non-profit groups.
A San Francisco resident stated that fixing corruption is important and he is excited to vote for the proposal.

Peter Cohen, Council of Community Housing Organizations, submitted a letter with detailed comments on the draft. He supported staff’s recommendation to take comment and come back with a draft in June.

Alex Kaplan, Policy Director for Represent.Us, thanked the Commission for its consideration and its staff for two IP meetings. He stated that the proposed measure addresses a problem and there is an interest to create reasonable exemptions.

Anita Mayo provided a written letter. She stated that the current limit is so low already – $25. She stated that the California Supreme Court invalidated a law in 1979 that banned contributions from lobbyists.

Ray Hartz stated that Luis Herrera was accepting money and lied about it many times. He stated that there should be no difference between expenditure and contact lobbyists.

Greg Ryan from Represent.Us stated that earmarking should be included and that the $50 limit is only a limit, not a ban.

Commissioner Renne announced that the Commission would move to Agenda Item 8, as Agenda Items 6 and 7 both call for the possibility of closed session. He stated that the Commission would hear the rest of the agenda in advance so that people do not wait until after the Commission meets in possible closed session.

6. Discussion and possible action regarding Mark Farrell for District 2 Supervisor 2010, et al. v. City and County of San Francisco, et al, Case No. CGC-16-551745, S.F. Superior Court (filed April 29, 2016).

Agenda Item heard after Agenda Items 8, 9, and 10.

7. Discussion and possible action regarding complaints received or initiated by the Ethics Commission concerning: San Francisco Campaign and Governmental Conduct Code section 3.230(a) (prohibition on knowingly, directly or indirectly, soliciting political contributions from other City officers or employees).

Agenda Item heard after Agenda Items 8, 9, 10, and 6.

8. Discussion and possible action on items for future meetings.

Public Comment:
None.

9. Discussion of Executive Director’s Report.

Executive Director Pelham stated that COIT will fund the E-Filing Conversion Project for the next two years, including staffing to assist. She stated that the Mayor is expected to announce a proposed budget on May 31. She stated that the Commission had received over 120 applications for the Deputy Director position and hoped to have someone in the position in the early part of the new fiscal year. She expressed regret that Garrett Chatfield was no longer with the Commission and stated that he was a great person to work with.

Public Comment:

Ray Hartz acknowledged the rearrangement of the agenda. He stated that now the investigators were down to one part-time position. He stated that they will take money away if you did not use it.

10. Discussion and possible action on draft minutes for the Commission’s April 25, 2016 regular meeting.

Motion 160523-03 (Keane/Chiu): Moved, seconded, and passed (5-0) that the Commission adopt the minutes of the Commission’s regular meeting on April 25, 2016, as written.

Public Comment:

Ray Hartz stated that he did not want to be censored by the Library Commission.

Continuation of Agenda Item 6 – Discussion and possible action regarding Mark Farrell for District 2 Supervisor 2010, et al. v. City and County of San Francisco, et al, Case No. CGC-16-551745, S.F. Superior Court (filed April 29, 2016).

Motion 160523-04 (Andrews/Chiu): Moved, seconded, and passed (5-0) that the Commission move into closed session.

Public Comment:

Ray Hartz raised objections about this item. He stated that people do not believe that people are honorable and reasonable anymore. He stated that the perception is that the Commission is cooking the books.

Charles Marsteller stated that he invites Supervisor Farrell to appear before the Commission. He asked whether the Commission had the ability to find someone in contempt. He stated that his standard of behavior should be higher than the average citizen.

Continuation of Agenda Item 7 – Discussion and possible action regarding complaints received or initiated by the Ethics Commission concerning: San Francisco Campaign and Governmental Conduct Code section 3.230(a) (prohibition on knowingly, directly or indirectly, soliciting political contributions from other City officers or employees).

Motion 160523-05 (Andrews/Hayon): Moved, seconded, and passed (5-0) that the Commission move into closed session.

Public Comment:

None.

The Commission entered a break at 7:28 PM. The Commission resumed from break in closed session at 7:36 PM. All Commissioners, DCA Shen, DCA White, Executive Director Pelham, and staff member Argumedo remained in the hearing room. DCA Shen left the hearing room at 7:56 PM. The Commission returned into open session at 8:14 PM.

Chairperson Renne announced the following disclosure relating to Agenda Item 6. He stated that the Commission instructed the City Attorney to vigorously respond to the complaint that was filed by Supervisor Farrell and to file a cross-complaint seeking to recover the moneys of the subject matter of the forfeiture letter.

Chairperson Renne announced that, with respect to Agenda Item 7, the Commission had entered into proposed stipulations regarding violations of SF C&GCC section 3.230(a) with Respondents George Gascón, Cristine Soto DeBerry, and Michael Swart. The approved stipulations are currently available at the Commission’s office and on its website.

Commissioner Keane announced that he has had professional contacts, over the years, with District Attorney Gascón on various matters dealing with the City’s criminal justice system. He stated the contacts were purely professional dealing with the criminal justice system.

Public Comment:

None.

Commissioner Andrews stated that it has been an honor for him to serve on the Commission for the past three years. He thanked the Commission for its patience when he first started and he stated that he is impressed with the new Executive Director. He stated that, during the search, he had some time to spend with Commission staff and he recognizes the level of dedication and skill they have for their work. He stated that he was sorry he would not be able to work with Commissioner Chiu, but thanked her in advance for her service. He stated that he stands down with a heavy heart and looks forward to sitting in the audience at future meetings.

11. Additional opportunity for public comment on matters appearing or not appearing on the agenda pursuant to Ethics Commission Bylaws Article VII Section 2.

None.

12. Adjournment.

Motion 160523-06 (Keane/Chiu): Moved, seconded, and passed (5-0) that the Commission adjourn.

Public Comment:

None.

The Commission adjourned at 8:27 PM.

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