Ethics Commission
City and County of San Francisco

Notice of Proposed Actions by Ethics Commission to Amend its Meeting Schedule Bylaws and its Enforcement Regulations

At its next meeting on Monday, December 18, 2017, at 1:00 p.m., in City Hall, Room 416, the San Francisco Ethics Commission (“Commission”) will consider and possibly take action on 1) a bylaws amendment to revise the date, time, and location of its regular Commission meetings, and 2) amendments to its Enforcement and Sunshine Ordinance Regulations.

Proposed Bylaws Amendment to Revise Date, Time, and Location of Ethics Commission Regular Meetings

The proposed bylaws amendment the Commission will consider at its December 18th meeting, if adopted, would supersede the meetings schedule bylaws change adopted at the Commission’s last meeting on November 27, 2017.

The Charter provides that a board or commission may adopt rules and regulations, including bylaws governing its activities and operations. Charter § 4.104(a)(1). Exercising this authority, the Ethics Commission has adopted bylaws and periodically adopted amendments to those bylaws.

Due to the lateness of the hour at which Commission meetings have concluded, the Commission adopted a bylaws amendment on November 27, 2017 to change its regular meetings from the fourth Monday of the month beginning at 5:30 p.m. to earlier meetings on the second Tuesday of the month beginning at 10:00 a.m.. Subsequent to the Commission’s November meeting, Staff confirmed that meeting date, time, and locations adopted at that meeting would not enable televised proceedings for the duration of Commission meetings. Although live streaming or partially televised meetings could have occurred, the inability to provide live broadcast would be counter to a bylaws requirement the Commission has had in place since 2011.

To ensure continuity in televised broadcasts of Ethics Commission meetings while also providing for daytime meetings, a new bylaws amendment is proposed to replace the schedule adopted in November with the regular meeting date, time and location detailed in a December 8, 2017 Staff memo on the proposed bylaws change.

Pursuant to Article XII of its bylaws, the Ethics Commission may amend its bylaws “at any regular meeting of the Commission by majority vote of those present, provided such proposed amendments are circulated in writing to all Commissioners at least ten (10) days prior to such meeting, and ten days public notice shall be posted.” The proposed bylaws change was provided to Commissioners and is being publicly noticed today to meet the 10-day notice requirement.

Comments on the proposed amendment are welcomed and may be sent to ethics.commission@sfgov.org, or via regular mail to San Francisco Ethics Commission, 25 Van Ness Avenue, Suite 220, San Francisco, CA 94102.

Proposed Amendment to Ethics Commission Enforcement and Sunshine Ordinance Regulations

At its next meeting on Monday, December 18, 2017, the San Francisco Ethics Commission will also consider a proposal to revise the Ethics Commission Regulations for Investigations and Enforcement Proceedings, which will incorporate a revised version of the Ethics Commission Regulations for Handling Violations of the Sunshine Ordinance. The changes are recommended by Commission Staff to make the Regulations and the processes they govern more fair, clear, transparent, and efficient. This 10-day notice is provided under Charter Sec. 4.104 to encourage public comment on the proposals in time for the Commission’s next meeting.

As proposed, the revised set of Enforcement Regulations will:

  1. Delegate responsibility for conducting probable cause conferences and making probable cause determinations from the Ethics Commission to the Executive Director, to increase due process protections for respondents by preserving the neutrality of Commissioners for a hearing on the merits;
  2. Delegate responsibility to conduct investigations from the Executive Director to the Deputy Director for Enforcement, to increase due process protections for respondents by preserving the Executive Director’s neutrality for making probable cause determinations;
  3. Use the Executive Director’s written determination of a Finding of Probable Cause as the charging document for administrative hearing purposes instead of creating a duplicative Accusation document for that purpose, a streamlining procedure designed to increase efficiency and promote more timely enforcement proceedings;
  4. Require the Ethics Commission to consider proposed settlement agreements in public session and allow for certain stipulations to be heard by consent calendar, to increase the transparency and efficiency of the Commission’s case resolution processes;
  5. Combine portions of the Ethics Commission Regulations for Handling Violations of the Sunshine Ordinance with the Enforcement Regulations, while preserving the integrity of both the authority and jurisdictional responsibilities of the Ethics Commission and Sunshine Ordinance Task Force under the City’s Sunshine Ordinance, to increase efficiency in the conduct of investigations, clarify jurisdiction, and strengthen collaboration between the Commission and the Task Force;
  6. Permit the Commission to enter Default Orders when respondents fail to meet their obligation to participate in an enforcement action, to increase efficiency and promote just outcomes;
  7. Codify Commission policy to waive late filing fees for filing deadlines that fall on weekends and City holidays and amend the late filing fee waiver policy to reflect the requirements of the enabling ordinances, to increase fairness.

The Commission invites all input on the proposed regulations and encourages public participation during its next meeting on December 18 at 1:00 p.m. in Room 416 of City Hall, 1 Carlton B. Goodlett Place, San Francisco. Written public comment received by 5:00 pm on Wednesday, December 13, 2017, will be included in the Commission’s packet of meeting materials for its December 18th meeting. Opportunity for public comment will also be provided during the Commission’s meeting.

Staff welcomes written comments on the proposed changes, which can be sent via email to ethics.commission@sfgov.org, or via regular mail to San Francisco Ethics Commission, 25 Van Ness Avenue, Suite 220, San Francisco, CA 94102.

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