Ethics Commission
City and County of San Francisco

Executive Director’s Report – September 26, 2016

Date: September 22, 2016

To: Members of the Ethics Commission

From: LeeAnn Pelham, Executive Director

Subject: AGENDA ITEM 9 – Executive Director’s Report for the September 26, 2016 Commission Meeting

Summary

This report provides various programmatic and operational highlights to date since the last Commission meeting in July.

Action Requested

No action is required by the Commission, as this item is only for informational purposes.

Organizational and Staff News

Deputy Director joins staff

On August 15, 2016, we welcomed Jessica L. Blome as our new Deputy Director. In addition to assisting me with all office-wide policy and personnel matters, Jessica will also assume day to day management of our investigative and enforcement program as Director of Enforcement and Legal Affairs. She will also support agency-wide legal research and analysis, including acting as our Public Information Officer for all Public Records Act and Sunshine Ordinance requests.  Jessica previously served as an Assistant Attorney General in Missouri where she worked to ensure effective enforcement of state environmental and animal welfare laws by initiating, managing and responding to complaints, investigating violations, and successfully prosecuting a number of cases to uphold state laws.  For the past three years, Jessica served as a Senior Staff Attorney for a national non-profit based here in the Bay Area region dedicated to the protection of wild and endangered animals. Jessica holds a J.D. from the University of Iowa College of Law, where she was Editor in Chief of the Journal of Gender, Race & Justice, and a B.A. from the University of Iowa, where she majored in organizational communications and ethics.

Mayoral Senior Fellow begins in October

I am delighted to announce that Gayathri Thaikkendiyil will be joining us as the Ethics Commission’s Senior Fellow in early October. Following a competitive selection process, the Ethics Commission was selected as one of eight City departments to host a Senior Fellow for the next year. The Commission’s Senior Fellow project recognizes an important opportunity as we modernize our web platform to leverage the demand for a more user-focused online experience. It will use technology to help improve compliance across a range of programs, strengthen accountability in local government, and support informing and engaging the public. Our goal is to help improve how compliance information is conveyed online — moving it from the mere presentation of information to engagement with information.  An example of this is the creation of practical, more interactive compliance guides designed specifically for consumption in a web- and social-media based environment.  Building on the Commission’s existing strong commitment to being a leading public disclosure agency, we will be working to achieve (1) an improved online presence for compliance materials; (2) heightened compliance awareness; and (3) an improved understanding of user needs and services desired.  As the Commission’s Senior Fellow for the next year, Gayathri will be leading this work.  Gayathri has extensive IT experience at American Airlines, where she led large-scale customer technology projects distributed across cross-functional teams and stakeholder engagement efforts. She is experienced in process improvement and has planned, designed, evaluated and implemented applications to better support customer needs.  She has also served as a mentor with the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, and as a Diversity Advisory Council Member with American Airlines. She holds an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin as well as an MS in Computer Science from the University of Texas at Dallas. We look forward to welcoming Gayathri on her first day in the office on October 3.

Positions in recruitment soon

We will soon be accepting applications for two exempt positions at the Commission:  Senior Policy Analyst (1823) and an Education and Compliance Assistant (1842). Both position announcements will be posted on our website and circulated broadly. In addition, since the Commission’s July meeting, we have developed and submitted “Job Analysis Questionnaires” for four of the five other positions we will be hiring. These “JAQs” detail the specific knowledge, skills and abilities required for each position and are required to initiate the hiring process. We are continuing to work closely with the City’s Department of Human Resources with the goal of finalizing all necessary recruitment and exam documents so we can initiate recruitment for all positions by the end of October.

New organizational structure

As we move into a new chapter organizationally, effective August 1, 2016, the Commission’s staff organizational structure was updated to better reflect how our staffing resources align with our overall programmatic priorities. For reference, a new organizational chart and description of the staff structure appear as Attachment 1 and 2, respectively.

Commission Outreach

On August 9, the Mayor’s Office, in partnership with the Department of Human Resources, sponsored a presentation and discussion for Department Heads with Ken Hampian, the former City Manager of San Luis Obispo. Mr. Hampian gave a presentation titled “What the Bell?!! (or “To Bell and Back”) – What happened in the City of Bell, and What We Can Learn From It.”  This session was co-sponsored by our office and is one in a series of programs to support Department Heads in leading and managing effectively.

This year’s group of San Francisco Fellows requested a briefing with our office as part of their orientation to City service on August 18. SF Fellows are recent college graduates assigned to a broad range of departments on one-year assignments within San Francisco City government.

Jessica Blome and I attended a meeting of the CA Political Treasurers Association on August 19th. The CPTA is made up of many of the campaign treasurers and other individuals responsible for filing reports with our office and who directly and regularly interact with us on the staff. We had the opportunity to share with them the Commission’s new initiative and priorities, and to hear about areas of our work they believe can benefit from continued improvement.

Under the auspices of the US State Department’s International Visitors Leadership Program, we also had the opportunity to enjoy a broad-ranging discussion about the role of a local ethics commission with a group of international leaders who visited our office on August 24th.  The group included representatives from organizations involved in public financial management, audits, the media, and transparency efforts from Jordan, Bahrain, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Palestine and Saudi Arabia.

On August 25th, Chair Renne and several members of the staff attended a discussion in Oakland held by the Fair Political Practices Commission Chair Jodi Remke and California Forward. This was one of several FPPC sessions around the state to discussion their efforts to update the Political Reform Act to make it more readable and easier to understand.  The support of California Forward has been enlisted to assist in their public engagement process.  They will continue to be seeking public input as they develop a revised document to bring forward to the State legislature at the beginning of 2017.

Deputy City Attorney Andrew Shen, Jessica Blome and I met with the FPPC’s staff leadership on September 20th in Sacramento to discuss new initiatives underway here at the Commission, explore future collaboration, and learn from their insights and experiences.

On September 26, I will be participating in a panel discussion on “Ethics: The Heart of Leadership,” sponsored by the San Francisco chapter of the Public Relations Society of America.

Education and Compliance

Effective August 1, 2016, our Education and Compliance Division began cross-training staff on the full range of programs administered by the Ethics Commission.  The division will assist the public, city officers, employees and members of the regulated community with their responsibilities under the law, and support compliance with the City’s ethics, campaign finance, and lobbying and disclosure requirements.

In August, staff conducted training sessions on campaign finance rules and requirements for candidates, ballot measure committees and general purpose committees.  These training sessions were the last of our scheduled in-person training sessions for the November 2016 election.

Statement of Economic Interests (Form 700) Disclosure Program

As part of its renewed ethics outreach to City departments, the Ethics Commission has been working closely with several departments since late July as they update their existing Form 700 designations in connection with the 2016 biennial Conflict of Interest Code review process. These supported reviews were initiated by our office in conjunction with distribution of the Clerk of the Board’s July 5, 2016 biennial review notice.

Working in collaboration with the Office of the City Attorney, our office has provided assistance to several key departments as they take an in-depth look at their lists of designated Form 700 filers and those filers’ disclosure categories. Departments offered a supported review were selected because their current designated filer lists include a wide range of positions that also have the broadest disclosure categories. The shared goal of our joint effort is to ensure the updates submitted for consideration by the Board of Supervisors – as the City’s code reviewing body – are most appropriately tailored to the duties and authority of positions designated to file Form 700s under the Code.

To assist these departments with the review of designated Form 700 filers and their disclosure categories, our office developed an information guide that discusses the criteria for designating filers, and factors to consider when updating an agency’s list positions that file. The guide contains a worksheet that helps to identify the nexus between the scope of a position’s duties and its job responsibilities, and includes samples of disclosure category language that highlight the distinctions among agency-wide, division-specific, and specialized job functions.  The guide, which has since been distributed to departments City-wide, is included as Attachment 3.

On August 15, 2016, staff from our office and the Department of Human Resources Employee Relations unit met with representatives of the San Francisco Management Executives Association, IFPTE Local 21, and the Police Officers Association to discuss the Commission’s Form 700 work and the biennial code review process.  A follow-up meeting is tentatively scheduled for October 6, 2016.

Lobbying Program

Contact Lobbyists are required to register with the Ethics Commission once the thresholds in Section 2.105 of the Lobbyist Ordinance are met.  As of mid-September, 174 lobbyists were registered with the Commission, up from 165 in mid-August.  Ninety-seven percent of the monthly activity reports that were due this month were on time, up from 93 percent the previous month.  Of the six late reports in August, two were due to technical issues.

Major Developer Program

Major developers of certain City real estate projects with estimated constructions costs of more than $1,000,000 are required to register with the Ethics Commission once the threshold in Section 3.510 of the Developer Disclosure Ordinance is met. As of mid-September 2016, 10 developers reporting 15 construction projects were registered with the Commission. The next quarterly report (for the period July 1 through September 30) is due October 16, 2016.

Campaign Consultant Program

Campaign consultants are required to register with the Ethics Commission once the threshold in section 1.505 of the Campaign Consultant Ordinance is met.  Each registered campaign consultant is required to re-register annually at the beginning of the calendar year.  As of mid-September 2016, 49 campaign consultants were registered with the Commission for 2016.  Campaign Consultants are required to submit their next quarterly reports no later than December 15, 2016.  These reports will cover the reporting period from September 1, 2016 through November 30, 2016.

Policy

Proposition T

The Ethics Commission’s proposal to restrict lobbyist gifts, contributions and bundling was designated as “Proposition T” during the Department of Elections’ random lettering assignment process in August.  On behalf of the Commission, a Proponent’s Argument for Proposition T by Chair Renne was submitted the to the Department of Elections and will be listed as the Official Proponent Argument in the November ballot pamphlet. To comply with applicable political activities provisions of state and city law, the submission was fact-based and descriptive but did not contain advocacy or arguments on behalf of the measure.

Behested Donations Reporting

On Tuesday, September 20, Supervisor Peskin formally introduced an ordinance to require behested donations by members of City boards and commissions in certain circumstances. A copy of that ordinance and the accompanying Legislative Digest appear at Attachment 4 and 5 for reference.

Operations & Audits

Since the last Commission meeting, audit work on five pre-2015 campaign committees has been completed. Staff also completed mandatory audits of the two candidates who received public financing in 2015.  Audit work that now remains to be completed includes four lobbyist audits from the 2014 cycle; and 11 campaign audits and four lobbyist audits selected for the 2015 audit cycle.

Audit staff have also been busy reviewing submissions related to the public financing program for the November 2016 election.  To date, Auditors have evaluated 12 qualifying requests from candidates and 23 requests for matching funds, with four additional matching funds requests in process. To date, participating City candidates have been certified to receive a total of approximately $947,000 in public funds for their campaigns.

As part of the public financing program, expenditure ceilings candidates agree to as one of the requirements for participation may also require adjustment based on spending in City campaigns. In analyzing whether these publicly funded candidates’ expenditure ceilings need to be adjusted, Auditors have also reviewed more than 30 reports with third-party expenditures of over $184,000 to date. Notably, third-party spending reports can also have corresponding campaign communications attached, which staff also reviews for compliance with applicable campaign disclaimer requirements.

Enforcement & Legal Affairs

Investigative matters under the jurisdiction of the Ethics Commission are treated as formal complaints if, based on the allegations and Executive Director’s preliminary review, the Executive Director determines there is reason to believe a violation of law may have occurred.  Once the Executive Director has determined with regard to a particular complaint that there is reason to believe a violation of law may have occurred, those complaints are logged as formal complaints. Table 1 summarizes the number of pending formal complaints within the Ethics Commission’s jurisdiction, by type, that remained pending as of September 16, 2016.  In addition to these 24 pending formal complaints, 63 matters remained in preliminary review.  Of the 63 matters in preliminary review, 40 were received after the July 2016 Commission meeting.  For additional information, Attachment 6 provides a current snapshot of the age of open formal complaints under investigation and the age of matters in preliminary review.

Table 1 – Summary of Pending Formal Complaints, by Type, as of September 16, 2016

Type Number
Campaign Finance 7
Conflict of Interest 8
Governmental Ethics 3
Lobbyist Ordinance 1
Campaign Consultant Ordinance 1
Sunshine Ordinance 4
Total 24

Bureau of Delinquent Revenues (BDR) Accounts

Table 2 – Active accounts that have been referred by the Ethics Commission to the City’s Bureau of Delinquent Revenues

Committee/Filer ID # Treasurer or Responsible Officer Date Referral Effective Original Amount Referred Last Month’s Balance Current Balance Status
Chris Jackson 1347066 Chris Jackson 7/12/13 $6,601 $6,601 $6,601 Judgement issued 11/18/15 Small Claims Court
Committee to Elect Norman for Supervisor 1327771 Jacqueline Norman 5/01/15 $9,000 $9,000 $9,000
Bob Squeri for District 7 1346150 Bob Squeri 5/01/15 $2,000 $2,000 $2,000
Mark Farrell for Supervisor 2010 1320480 Mark Farrell 7/08/15 $190,903 $190,903 $190,903
Isabel Urbano 153993 Isabel Urbano 3/23/16 $7,000 $7,000 $7,000
Total $215,504

Other Programmatic Information

Revenue Report

Table 1 shows the revenues received by the Commission during the fiscal year that began on July 1, 2016.

Table 3- Summary of FY 2016-17 Revenues as of September 15, 2016

Source Budgeted Amount FY 16-17 Receipts as of September 15, 2016
Lobbyist Registration Fees $85,000 $4,500
Lobbyists Fines $500 $0
Campaign Consultants Fees $10,000 $2,450
Contact Lobbyist and Other e.g., copies made by Public $4,850
Statement of Economic Interests Filers $1,500 $300
Campaign Consultant Fines 1,000 $0
Campaign Finance Fines (includes late fees and forfeitures) $23,000 $1,252
Ethics, Other/Administrative Fines Levied by the Commission $7,500 $1,900
Total $133,350 $9,400

 

I look forward to answering any questions you might have in connection with this Executive Director’s report at the upcoming Commission meeting.

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