Executive Director’s Report – October 4, 2021

October 4, 2021
To: Members of the Ethics Commission
From: LeeAnn Pelham, Executive Director
Subject: Agenda Item 13 – Executive Director Report for October 2021

Summary and Action Requested

This report provides various programmatic and operational highlights since the last Executive Director’s

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

Behested Payments Legislation Update

The Behested Payments legislation proposed by the Ethics Commission in November 2020 (BOS File 201132) has been heard by the Board of Supervisors’ Rules Committee at three meetings. These amendments to the Campaign and Governmental Conduct Code would prohibit City officers and Form 700 (Statement of Economic Interest) designated filers from soliciting behested payments from those defined as interested parties. At the Rules Committee hearings on September 20th and 27th, Supervisor Peskin moved to make several amendments to the legislation, including adding elected officials to the list of officials to whom the legislation would apply. The amendments were adopted by the Committee, and the ordinance must now undergo a second round of discussions with employee bargaining units. Staff is engaging closely with the legislation’s sponsors (Haney, Peskin, Chan) and will continue to keep the Commission updated on its progress.

Updates on Re-Opening of Physical Offices & Continuation of Remote Public Meetings

Since the last Executive Director report at the Commission’s August meeting, the City Administrative Officer (CAO)and Department of Human Resources (DHR) communicated to City departments that the public re-opening of City offices currently operating without an onsite staff presence that was initially anticipated for September 7 would be delayed to November 1 due to ongoing COVID-19 concerns. Staff will continue to plan as necessary for a re-opening of the Commission’s physical office to onsite public services based on guidance issued from the CAO and DHR. Information about the timing and protocols for re-opening will be provided and posted on the Commission’s website as developments warrant.

Guidance from the City Attorney’s Office regarding new requirements for the continuation of remote meetings of policy bodies during the COVID19 public health emergency was issued on September 28th. That advice was provided in the wake of state law, AB 361, which recently amended the Brown Act. Further information appears on the Commission’s October meeting under Agenda Item 12.

Hiring and Staffing News

Filling all staff positions continues to be a top organizational priority, and this month we have a significant number of staffing updates to report.

Fines Collection Officer Ernestine Braxton retired from City service effective September 18th. Ernestine joined the Commission staff in June 2010 and has served as Commission’s Fines Collection Officer since that time. We wish her well as she embarks on a new chapter and a happy retirement. During this transition period the Enforcement team will absorb day to day responsibility for the fines collection program and help evaluate next steps and approaches for program processes going forward.

I am sorry to announce that Director of Enforcement and Legal Affairs Jeff Pierce will be leaving the Ethics Commission. Jeff has accepted an offer to join a law firm in the private sector effective October 11. Jeff was first appointed as Interim Director of Enforcement and Legal Affairs in March 2018 and was appointed on a permanent basis to lead the Division in August 2018. Over the past three years Jeff has skillfully led the Division through a significant period of growth and change and has done so with a deep well of knowledge, persistence, and clarity of purpose. With an unflappable focus, and particularly so under the extraordinary circumstances of the past 19 months, Jeff has led the Enforcement team in creating a series of important program and process improvements. By fully implementing the new Enforcement regulations adopted in 2018, establishing a new streamlined program for resolving cases, and reducing case resolution timeframes while also enabling more complex cases to be initiated, Jeff has thoughtfully and creatively advanced our enforcement program to the next level of achievement, effectiveness, and public trust. Notably, Jeff’s deep commitment to public service also reached to a month-long deployment in the spring of last year as a Disaster Service Worker, providing direct services to those experiencing homelessness in the city. As Jeff steps into a new role outside of local government, we wish him all the best and know that his insights as a thought partner, his wry humor, and his compassion will continue to be well used in service to others.

During the period of leadership transition in the Enforcement Division until the position is filled on a permanent basis, I have appointed Senior Investigator Jeffrey Zumwalt to act on a temporary basis as Interim Director of Enforcement. That assignment becomes effective October 12, 2021.

In other news related to the Enforcement Division, I am pleased to announce that we have now completed recruitments for two investigator positions.

Olabisi Matthews joins the Enforcement Division October 4 as Senior Investigator/Legal Analyst. For the past 5+ years Olabisi has served as a housing rights attorney, most recently in the Bay Area with both Bay Area Legal Aid and the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley, and previously in New York with Manhattan Legal Services. Her prior experience includes serving as a Special Investigator with the Office of the Inspector General for the New York City Police Department, where she conducted extensive research and analyzed complex data on the policies and operations of the NYPD, including reviewing use-of-force practices. In addition, before attending law school, she served as an investigator for two years with the New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board. Olabisi earned her JD from Michigan State University College of Law, where she acted as a teaching assistance for research, writing, and advocacy, and was a student attorney and staff clinician with the Immigration Law Clinic. She also holds a BA in International Criminal Justice from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York.

On October 12, Corey Ordoñez joins the Enforcement Division as Senior Investigator/Legal Analyst. Corey has served for the past five years as a Court Investigator with the Superior Court of Contra Costa County, where he was responsible for conducting investigations relating to guardianships and conservatorships and conducted complex accountings of conservatees’ estates. Prior to that he served for four years as a Judge Advocate General (JAG) with the United States Army where he represented the government in administrative review boards, acted as the Command Judge Advocate on a task force responsible for a large investigation into federal funds improperly disbursed as bonuses, and was combat deployed serving as chief of legal assistance at an operating base in Iraq. Corey earned his law degree from the McGeorge School of Law at the University of the Pacific, where he also served as Chief Technical Editor of the Law Review. He holds a BS in Criminal Justice Administration from San Jose State University.

In other staff and organizational news, as the central work of the Commission’s Engagement & Compliance Team has continued to evolve, we now have formalized an updated working title for our office’s Senior Clerk position to more fully reflect the breadth of duties across the range of its administrative front office responsibilities. Over the past year these have included the coordination of remote stakeholder training sessions and a visible support role as Moderator for the Commission’s monthly remote meetings. Effective this month, Ronald Contreraz will have a new working title as our Senior Administrative Coordinator. While Ronald’s working title is changing, his familiar and outstanding juggling skills, flexibility, and commitment to public service excellence are unchanged and remain essential ingredients in the continuity and professionalism of our front office operations and services.

Lastly, our hiring-related activities remain underway for the Auditor position and we are again refocusing on steps to begin circulation of job postings for the new positions authorized and funded beginning with this fiscal year’s budget that took effect October 1. Those postings have been delayed in recent weeks due to necessary planning and preparations for resuming a greater onsite work presence later this fall and to the management of other staffing transitions in the past month.

Revenues Report

The table below reflects revenues received by the Commission for Fiscal Year 2022 as of October 4, 2021.

Summary of FY22 Revenues

DescriptionFY22 Budgeted AmountFY22 Actuals as 10/4/21
Campaign Consultant Registration Fees$7,000$500
Lobbyist Registration Fees$85,000$9,500
Campaign Consultant Fines$2,000$800
Campaign Finance Fines$50,000$11,858
Statement of Economic Interests Filings – Late Fees$1,250$170
Lobbyists Fines$2,000$1,650
Other Ethics/Administrative Fees and Fines$9,950$33,254
Total$157,200$57,732

I look forward to answering any questions you may have at the upcoming Commission meeting.

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