Draft Minutes of the Regular Meeting of
The San Francisco Ethics Commission
Friday, October 8, 2021
Remote Meeting Held Onlinevia WebEx and aired live on SFGovTV
(Approved __, 2021)
Note: SFGovTV provides a continuous archive of audio, video, and Caption Notes recordings of Ethics Commission meetings that allows viewers to watch those meetings online in full at the viewer’s convenience. These archives of Ethics Commission meetings may be accessed at SFGovTV at http://sanfrancisco.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=142.
(Note: A complete video recording of this meeting is available at SFGovTv.)
Item 1. Call to order and roll call.
Acting Chair Yvonne Lee convened the meeting at 9:37 am and stated that the meeting is being held by Teleconference Pursuant to the Governor’s Executive Order N-29-20 and the Twelfth Supplement to Mayoral Proclamation Declaring the Existence of a Local Emergency Dated February 25, 2020. Online Meeting Moderator Ronald Contreraz summarized procedures for remote participation by members of the public.
COMMISSION MEMBERS PRESENT: With Chair Lee and Commissioners Daina Chiu, Larry Bush, and James Bell attending, a quorum was present.
STAFF PRESENTING: LeeAnn Pelham, Executive Director; Jeff Pierce, Director of Enforcement and Legal Affairs; Jeff Zumwalt, Senior Investigator; Pat Ford, Senior Policy and Legislative Affairs Counsel; Ronald Contreraz, Online Meeting Moderator.
REPRESENTATIVES OF THE OFFICE OF THE CITY ATTORNEY PRESENT: Andrew Shen, Deputy City Attorney.
REPRESENTATIVES OF THE CONTROLLER’S OFFICE PRESENT: Mark de la Rosa, Controller’s Office City Services Auditor Division; Tiffany Wong, Controller’s Office City Services Auditor Division.
- Draft Minutes for August 13, 2021 meeting.
- October 4, 2021 cover memo and Proposed SARP Stipulation, Decision and Order In the Matter of Sandra Lee Fewer for Supervisor 2016, Sandra Lee Fewer, and Nicholas Persky (SFEC Complaint No. 1617-020-2).
- October 4, 2021 cover memo and Proposed SARP Stipulation, Decision and Order In the Matter of Brigitte Davila (SFEC Complaint No. 1819-034/035 and 2122-012).
- October 4, 2021 cover memo and Proposed SARP Stipulation, Decision and Order In the Matter of Jennifer Stojkovic(SFEC Complaint No. 1920-011).
- October 4, 2021 cover memo and Proposed SARP Stipulation, Decision and Order In the Matter of No Plan, No Accountability, No on Prop C, Sponsored by the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce and Andrew Sinn (SFEC Complaint No. 2021-042).
- Staff cover memo dated October 4, 2021and Controller’s September 16, 2021 preliminary assessment report.
- Staff memo dated October 4, 2021and Report on Gifts: Gifts to City Departments (Web, PDF) (Meeting Presentation Slide Deck).
- Public Comment(received prior to meeting start).
- Staff memo dated October 4, 2021 on Enforcement Process and Consideration of Proposed Stipulated Orders During Public Session.
- Staff memo dated October 4, 2021 on Ethics Commission Racial Equity Action Plan.
- Staff cover memo and draft resolution dated October 4, 2021 on Continuation of Remote Commission Meetings.
- Executive Director Report dated October 4, 2021.
Item 2. Public comment on matters appearing or not appearing on the agenda.
Stephanie Peak stated she was calling on behalf of Jerry Dratler who had submitted written public comment. She stated that the Controller’s report in Item 8 is inadequate to mitigate corruption risk at DBI. She further requested that the Commission pay close attention to some of the facts identified in Item 9.
Chess Wellborn requested that the Commission return to live public meetings. The caller seconded the feedback from Jerry Dratler.
Anonymous requested that the Commission resume in-person meetings. He further stated that the Commission should retain telephonic and virtual public comment even after the Commission resumes in-person meetings.
CONSENT CALENDAR ITEMS
Item 3. Draft Minutes of the Commission’s August 13, 2021 regular meeting.
Bush requested that the Minutes from the August meeting should reflect a motion from the Commission that staff in the Mayor’s Office file their Forms 700 with the Ethics Commission. Director Pelham stated that staff would review the recording to ensure that the Minutes were accurate. The item was continued until the November meeting.
No public comment was received.
ITEMS REMOVED FROM CONSENT CALENDAR TO BE CONSIDERED SEPARATELY UNDER BYLAWS ART. VIII, SEC. 2
Item 4. Proposed Streamlined Stipulation, Decision and Order In the Matter of Sandra Lee Fewer for Supervisor 2016, Sandra Lee Fewer, and Nicholas Persky (SFEC Complaint No. 1617-020-2).
Senior Investigator Eric Willet noted that Bush had requested that the item be removed from the consent calendar and invited questions from Bush.
Bush said that the stipulation involved receipt of prohibited source contributions received during the 2016 election. Supervisor Fewer is already out of office, so the penalty will have a small deterrent effect. The amount of the contribution, $750, is above the $500 threshold for suspending a penalty in the penalty policies. Bush recommended that a warning letter be sent instead of a penalty being issued. He said that this is a small violation and the deeper end of the pool needs to be explored.
Chair Lee asked Willet if this was possible. Willet said that it is.
Commissioner Chiu said that the violations indicate ongoing issue in the City. Contractors made contributions in violation of the law. And even though five years have passed, it is important to send a message that violations should not be committee. The stipulation should be approved as is.
Commissioner Bell said that even apparently small violations need to be addressed. Bell asked for Bush to explain why the period of five years and the decision of Fewer to not seek reelection are important factors for him.
Bush said that the factors indicate that the Commission should be spending time on more impactful investigations.
Willet explained that the matter met the statute of limitations.
Chair Lee said that the expanded funding of the enforcement division will hopefully lead to old cases being disposed of. She asked Willet what happens to the contractors that made the contributions in question and if the Commission has a responsibility to let the Airport, the department that contracts with the contractors in question, know about the violations.
Enforcement Director Pierce said that both the contributors and the candidate are liable for unlawful contractor contributions. He said that staff are seeking to impose liability on both sides of the contribution.
Bush said that contractors have to sign a statement that they understand relevant City laws before becoming party to a City contract.
Chiu moved, and Lee seconded, a motion to approve the stipulation.
No public comment was received.
Bell acknowledged Bush’s concerns about the relative significance of different enforcement matter and that he also takes seriously the need to pursue major investigations.
Chiu associated herself with Bell’s comments.
Motion 211008-01 (Chiu/Lee): Moved, seconded, and passed (3-1, Bush dissenting) to approve Item 4.
Item 5. Proposed Streamlined Stipulation, Decision and Order In the Matter of Brigitte Davila (SFEC Complaint No. 1819-034/035 and 2122-012).
Bush stated that he was informed that the rule prohibiting voting by officers who hadn’t filed the Form 700 didn’t apply to state officials like community college board members. He would like to see a rule that applies to them.
Chiu discussed the timeline of the respondent’s filings of Form 700s, and asked what the explanation by the respondent was for her persistent failure to file.
Willet said that the engagement and compliance division worked with the respondent to get the forms filed, even though they were late. He said he couldn’t speak to the respondent’s rationale for filing in the way she did. He noted that she had been on time in filing since the violations.
Bell moved, and Chiu seconded, a motion to approve the stipulation.
No public comment was received.
Motion 211008-02 (Bell/Chiu): Moved, seconded, and passed (4-0) to approve Item 5.
Item 6. Proposed Streamlined Stipulation, Decision and Order In the Matter of Jennifer Stojkovic (SFEC Complaint No. 1920-011).
Lee noted that this item was on the August agenda.
Willet clarified that this is the third time the stipulation has been before the Commission. The first time the Commission asked staff to resolve a legal question. The second time the Commission asked staff to include more information in the stipulation about how the penalty amounts were determined. Willet said that both issued had been addressed.
Bush said he had asked how there could be many filings that the respondent needed to fix but that each one was not a violation. He said that Willet had explained why that was the case. Bush said that the allegations raised by public commenters in the August meeting could not be substantiated.
Bell moved, and Bush seconded, a motion to approve the stipulation.
No public comment was received.
Motion 211008-03 (Bell/Bush): Moved, seconded, and passed (4-0) to approve Item 6.
Item 7. Proposed Streamlined Stipulation, Decision and Order In the Matter of No Plan, No Accountability, No on Prop C, Sponsored by the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce and Andrew Sinn (SFEC Complaint No. 2021-042).
Willet said that the matter results from an audit of the respondent committee performed by the commission’s audit division. Enforcement found that one of the audit findings constituted a violation. This was the failure to include a compliant disclaimer in an electronic advertisement.
Bush said he removed the item from consent because he visited the Commission’s website and did not find information about where the chamber of commerce, which was the sole contributor to the respondent committee, obtained its funds. He said he wanted to discuss how more information about funding could be made available on the website. He said he wanted to determine whether the funders of the committee had business before City Hall and would benefit from the outcome of the measure based on the political agenda of the officials who supported and opposed the measure. He said he will support the stipulation but wants to discuss the availability of political contribution data later in the meeting.
Willet clarified that information about the respondent committee’s funding is available, and that there were other contributors to the respondent committee. He said that the data dashboards include information about the funding.
Bushed asked if going through these steps would earn you a master’s in public policy.
Willet said that the information is available in multiple forms.
Lee said that whether a respondent is a repeat offender is an important factor for her.
Willet said that that is factored into the SARP program as a potential exclusion from the program. A penalty within the last five years makes a respondent ineligible for SARP.
Chiu moved, and Bush seconded, a motion to approve the stipulation.
No public comment was received.
Motion 211008-04 (Chiu/Bush): Moved, seconded, and passed (4-0) to approve Item 7.
Bell thanked the staff for negotiating in a streamlined way so that more attention can be given to more odious violations.
Lee thanked Enforcement Director Pierce for his diligence and professionalism and patience. She wished him well in the future.
NON-CONSENT CALENDAR ITEMS
Item 8. Presentation by Controller’s Office on its preliminary assessment report, “Department of Building Inspection’s Permitting and Inspections Processes,” and discussion and possible action related to report findings and recommendations.
Mark de la Rosa of the Controller’s Office City Services Auditor Division introduced his colleague Tiffany Wong and the Controller’s Public Integrity Review. He briefly described the Controller’s process when investigating DBI and preparing this assessment. De la Rosa identified criminal charges that have been filed that are related to the Controller’s assessment. De la Rosa described the function and organization of DBI.
De la Rosa emphasized the unethical tone at the top of DBI that former department head Tom Hui had set. De la Rosa identified three recommendations related to the unethical tone at the top.
De la Rosa identified the problem of preferential treatment at DBI and identified recommendations related to that problem.
De la Rosa stated that their review had found inadequate data monitoring at DBI. He further noted that insufficient penalties may not deter permit violations.
Bush asked whether the creation of a new commission might impact these findings. Bush asked further about a new director at DBI and de la Rosa stated that it was beyond the scope of their review. Bush asked whether Controller had considered an Inspector General either for DBI or the City broadly. De la Rosa stated that they had identified the need for a robust and independent compliance officer whose roles and responsibilities might be similar to those of an inspector general.
Chiu thanked the Controller’s Office. She asked whether Controller would be following up to measure the implementation of the Controller’s recommendations. She further asked what role the Ethics Commission might play in improving tone at the top Citywide. De la Rosa stated that Controller has been following up on its recommendations noting that it issued in August a report on the status of its recommendations. He further stated that compliance is important work.
Bell associated himself with Chiu’s remarks and asked whether someone from the Controller’s Office might confer with someone from Ethics to identify any items that Ethics might do specifically stemming from the Controller’s recommendations. De la Rosa stated that Controller has in fact already collaborated with Ethics, and that Ethics has identified some of the key recommendations in each of the Controller’s assessments. Pelham noted that the Controller’s recommendations are also informing how staff is conceiving of what its forthcoming Ethics@Work program might look like.
Chair Lee stated that people likely knew about the noncompliant behavior along the way. She emphasized the role of the Whistleblower Program and urged that if people see something they say something. She emphasized the need that whistleblowers be protected legally, professionally, and socially.
Bush stated that the whistleblower program does not provide “wall to wall” protection because our law does not protect disclosures to Congress, elected officials, or the media. He requested that the Commission consider whether local law should be expanded.
Dennis Richards stated that he’s suing the City of San Francisco for retaliation for speaking out about corruption. He stated that everyone knew about the corruption. He stated that the industry runs the Department. He requested that the City review depositions from his lawsuit and that the City review whether and how City officers and employees respond to records requests. Mr. Richards requested that the City review the role the Mayor plays vis-à-vis DBI. He further stated that the law should require reporting but noted that people fear retaliation and do not wish to report.
Stephanie Peak identified herself as a member of the SF Land Use Coalition. She stated she admired Dennis Richards. She stated she’s speaking on behalf of Jerry Dratler. Peak stated a comprehensive risk assessment should be conducted of DBI. She recommended that people read Joe Eskinazi.
Chair Lee called a break at 11:20am.
The meeting resumed at 11:34am.
Item 9. Presentation, discussion and possible action on findings and staff recommendations of “Report on Gifts: Gifts to City Departments,” dated September 29, 2021.
Senior Policy and Legislative Affairs Counsel Pat Ford introduced the item. He stated the item is the third in a series of reports from the Commission’s Policy Division examining the City’s conflict of interest laws. Ford provided additional context for this report, including by reminding the Commission of the prior reports.
Ford provided background on this report, including findings from the federal investigation and by reminding Commissioners of relevant legal provisions including the City’s restricted source rule.
Ford walked the Commission through his findings. He noted inadequate disclosures from departments and that individuals and entities who would otherwise have been restricted sources have made their gifts either through non-City entities (like Friends Of groups) or to City departments, and that City departments then pass through those gifts to individual officers and employees who would have been prohibited from receiving those gifts directly from the sources. He identified a risk, and the appearance, of pay-to-play arising from this practice.
Ford noted that the report’s findings are empirical and do not necessarily describe violations of existing City law.
Ford recommended that free tickets should be subject to the restricted source rule. He stated that City duties can be achieved without access to free tickets.
Ford stated that the report found that existing disclosures are ineffective and insufficiently transparent. He identified a requirement in the Sunshine Ordinance that departments disclose on their websites any gifts made to the department, but noted several weaknesses rendering the requirement ineffective.
Ford walked the Commission through six recommendations outlined in the report designed to prevent individuals and entities from getting around the restricted source rule and to improve transparency around gifts to departments.
Chair Lee reminded members of the public how they might participate in public comment.
Chiu thanked Ford for the report and indicated her support of all the recommendations. She further noted the question of consequences for corrupt behavior through robust enforcement. She identified the challenge of proving knowledge on the part of those who violate the law.
Ford stated that with respect to backward looking enforcement, he noted that some existing rules could provide for enforcement of existing laws, including that the code already provides liability for aiding and abetting a violation of the restricted source rule. He emphasized the need for statutory changes however to mitigate corruption and the appearance of corruption.
Chiu stated a desire that further corruption be prevented. Ford offered his agreement and stated that their report had attempted to go beyond the known examples of corruption in order to identify recommendations to prevent future corruption. He described his view of how the standard “knew or had reason to know” might operate in practice. Chiu emphasized that the rules need both to be fair and to appear fair.
Bush identified several questions that arose for him in the context of this report.
Ford stated that staff had reviewed the City’s free ticket policies and noted that they had not analyzed the “public purpose” prong of City ticket distribution because if the tickets came from a restricted source they should not be distributed anyway.
Ford further stated that gifts of travel should not be exempt from the restricted source rule. Bush stated he had seen instances in which officials had flown to Europe on a private jet but disclosed only the value of an economy class ticket. Ford stated that goes to how gifts are valued.
Ford noted that Bush’s concern about only appointing authorities having power to remedy certain violations is well placed and that staff would review it further.
Bell thanked staff for the report and its cogent presentation. He stated that people are likely already devising ways to violate the new rules. He noted a need for the Ethics Commission to provide training for prevention purposes. He asked for Ford’s response to a letter from the Museums expressing concern about the recommendation to prohibit free tickets. Ford stated that staff do not contest that City officers may need to access events or facilities they oversee. He stated that if it’s necessary for officers to gain access, the tickets should come from the department’s budget and not from a restricted source. Bell asked a follow up question regarding whether a City officer should be admitted for free to an event, without a ticket, or whether the officer should have to pay for every moment of access. Ford responded that access to spaces for inspection is not a gift, because there’s only a business purpose. He stated that sitting down to observe a full performance is arguably different from access, because there’s personal benefit, and the fact that commissioners attend multiple performances and receive free tickets to share with guests makes clear that there is more than a business purpose at stake.
Bush stated that the War Memorial Foundation is a separate entity and not a City agency. Ford stated that War Memorial trustees are City officers.
The Director of the War Memorial John Caldon identified himself as one of the authors of the letter to which Bell had referred. He thanked Staff for their work in trying to restore public trust. Caldon stated that the Board is indeed a City agency with mayoral appointees. He identified one correction to the report, identifying one provision in the Charter empowering “charitable trust departments” to receive gifts of tickets. He noted that charitable trust departments have a fiduciary duty to ensure that museum spaces and performance spaces are maintained. Caldon stated that the Charter further provides that entities that would otherwise be treated as restricted sources may supplement departmental employee salaries. Caldon stated he agreed with Bell and Ford that access is not a gift. He further emphasized that in the case of performance spaces, the only possibility for access is through an assigned seat, which he stated was unique to this context. He stated that the opera or ballet do not give gifts of tickets but that the seats are instead contractually set aside for trustee oversight purposes, and that if the seats will go unused the Board gives the tickets back. Caldon stated that this contractual arrangement obviates the need to make and receive gifts. Caldon stated that there is no risk of corruption in this context. Caldon emphasized that if charitable trust department trustees cannot receive free tickets, it would create inequity on the board because it would require only those trustees who can purchase tickets for themselves to participate in that function.
Chair Lee stated that in a perfect world gifts would simply be prohibited. She stated that the federal rule is strong. She emphasized that although there are distinctions in reality between the kinds of gifts individuals might give, and the kinds of motivations they maintain for giving those gifts, the perception of fairness matters. She further noted that staff appreciation matters, such as holiday parties. She asked whether a firewall might resolve the pay-to-play problem, whereby restricted sources might fund department events so long as no one in the department can learn the identity of those who gave. She identified a desire to state that all gifts are prohibited.
Bell thanked Director Caldon for his advocacy. He asked Caldon if he is seeking an exemption from staff’s proposed gift rules for his departments. Caldon stated that because a Charter provision exists, an amendment to the Admin Code would not affect his departments. He reiterated that access to art spaces is not a gift and stated his view that public sentiment might be in favor of War Memorial trustees continuing to receive free tickets because of their oversight responsibilities.
Bell asked Caldon how to prevent abuse of the exception that Caldon is identifying. Caldon stated that the Form 802 filings already accomplishes that prevention of abuse because the tickets are disclosed.
Ford stated that the report did not address the Charter distinction because it does not address the issues in the report. Ford emphasized that War Memorial is not distinct and that contractual tickets are still gifts, noting that Rec and Park receives tickets pursuant to contract for attendance at Outside Lands and other events and that those are gifts, because there is no consideration given. Ford noted that if trustees must attend events then the department should pay for it, emphasizing that the Controller’s public integrity assessments had noted that departments should pay for staff appreciation events through City budgets rather than relying on restricted sources to pay for them.
Bush asked about an additional disclosure obligation when officers have to identify their personal and professional relationships during public meetings. Ford stated that it was in the plan for Phase 3 review to examine that provision. Chair Lee asked Deputy City Attorney Shen about requirement that Commissioners disclose during public meetings that they have a personal relationship with someone who is the subject of a governmental decision. Shen confirmed that the requirement exists.
Bush moved, and Chiu seconded, that the Commission adopt staff’s recommendations.
Chair Lee sought clarification on next steps and Ford reminded the Commission of the legislative process Staff would pursue.
Chiu asked when the next election will occur. Ford stated that there would be both a June election and a November election.
Angela Calvillo identified herself as the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors and recognizes the Clerk’s Office as a strong partner of Ethics Commission and agrees with the report’s recommendations. Her office had envisioned a new legislative system would include access to reports for all stakeholders and in 2017 issued an RFP toward that end. It included features for a document repository however the vendor, Granicus, has since been unable to follow through and that vision has been bottled up. Her office is working through the contractual issues with the City Attorney and has begun engaging with the City’s Department of Technology to refresh the scope of that work and add on a new legislative management system that would be one-stop shop for departments to upload all required reports into one system where they would be time stamped and could be located. She relayed that the Board takes public disclosure seriously and that public access is parament and they want to help ensure accountability and have a strong system.
A caller stated he found this issue to be convoluted. He stated that the problem lies not with institutions but with departments. He questioned why the Commission does not acknowledge the taxpayer and stated that obtaining access to disclosures is difficult.
Ali Altaha thanked Chiu for her remarks. Altaha stated that above major gifts like $30,000 watches is the billions that secure contracts. Altaha recommended that the City pursue use of the False Claims Act.
Motion 211008-05 (Bush/Chiu): Moved, seconded, and passed (4-0) to approve the recommendations contained in the report accompanying Item 7.
Item 10. Presentation and discussion of Staff report on Enforcement Process and Consideration of Proposed Stipulated Orders During Public Session.
Enforcement Director Pierce introduced the item. He said staff sought to provide background about how the enforcement process has been informed in response to commissioner questions raised at the last meeting. The memo talks about legal and practical considerations.
Lee recalls there being interest in discussing the penalty phase and asks for a 2 minute briefing on that.
Pierce references seven factors that influence penalty options. Penalties are negotiated. One of the factors is if the respondent has the ability to pay the penalties. That consideration only comes into play if raised by the respondent and supporting documents are provided. Staff also looks to other cases. It is also a consider among both parties, to consider the costs if an agreement is not reached.
Lee asks how old these floor and ceiling amounts are. Is it time to raise them now?
Pierce references caps in the Charter. It is possible this $5,000 cap does not have the same impact it once did. Staff does have some discretion into how counts are structured, this could help manage the size of the penalty. We would hope to increase the heat of penalties with cost of living.
Chair reminds the public to dial in for the public comment queue.
Bush references practice among police departments. Bush doesn’t think it is a good idea for the same people to decide on issues and decide on penalties (desire for hearing officers). Should have a hearing process, instead of having this go directly to the Commission.
Chair asks Mr. Shen about hearing officer process. If we had a commissioner act as a hearing officer, this would need to be a public, commission meeting.
Bush says he would have no problem with that.
Shen says we are not talking about full blown hearings, rather stipulated settlements. This process could be a lot for these matters. We reviewed four stipulations today and it did not seem that any of the commission’s questions were out of line.
Bush mentions an historical example of the FPPC saying they would let a case die. The people who determine there was an offense, shouldn’t be the same ones issuing penalties.
Pierce confirms that a hearing officer could be used, however it may only be for a hearing on the merits, not settlements. Staff shares concern that if the multiple roles are being filled, that could raise fairness concerns.
Bush is interested in cases that go back more than five years and the dollar figure involved (say more than $5,000).
Chiu has a question for Mr. Shen on closed sessions: what are the criteria for the Commission to go into a closed session on these enforcement matters?
Shen states that there is strong default to meet in open session unless there is a strong exception. No exception is available to protect confidential investigative methods.
Bush asks if we are only talking about campaign finance violations.
Pierce clarifies we are talking about all instances where penalties are issued. Agrees with Mr. Shen’s reading of the Brown Act and the importance of open meetings. Even if closed sessions were allowed, it would help cover the issues of confidential investigative methods but would not resolve due process concerns.
Bell thanks the staff for doing this memo and writing out the guardrails of we can talk about. Wants to make sure we have the ability to deliberate and not be a rubber stamp to the Staff (like we did with Mr. Caldon today). Was just in search of deliberation that can fall within the guardrails. Suggests staff and others in opposition to staff could also speak. Still not sure where to get deliberation in.
Chair expresses appreciation for the memo. Chair proposes idea of no more than two commissioners sitting in on this process with staff, to get a better understanding of how this program works.
Director Pelham doesn’t think having commissioners in a live meeting would be the best idea, as it would raise due process concerns. Instead, staff would be happy to sit down with any commissioner one-on-one to more deeply explain how this process works with SARP. This is somewhat of a pilot program, and we are open to tweaking things based on feedback.
Chair explains her idea would not have commissioners in the physical room, just listening. Moves to public comment.
No public comment was received.
Item 11. Discussion and possible action on Ethics Commission Racial Equity Action Plan.
Director Pelham introduced the item, providing background on the process and identifying the several components included in the Commission’s Racial Equity Action Plan, including hiring and recruitment, retention and promotion, and discipline and separation. Pelham noted a desire to poll staff.
Bell stated that he was focused on Subsection 6, regarding organizational culture of inclusion and belonging. He encouraged Pelham to explore with Staff in a confidential way to discover what staff believe inclusion and belonging might mean to them. He further noted that there may be commissions in the City with plans for reparations, and that Ethics should be aware of that possibility and consider whether those processes might affect Ethics as well.
Bush noted that equitable considerations also reach non-English speaking individuals and requested that the Commission provide training or outreach in a non-English language.
Chiu asked if the Commission is tracking diversity and equity in applications and hiring. Pelham stated that Staff regularly seeking feedback from DHR about what we see from stage to stage, including for example in relation to how we draft job descriptions and recruitments.
Bush stated that DHR’s reputation on DEI is tarnished because of lawsuits from minority employees against it.
Chair Lee emphasized the need for diverse language abilities. She advised Staff to identify its deficiencies when considering its new hires because that is the best opportunity to fill those voids.
Chiu noted that the broad hiring effort now before the Commission present real opportunities, and asked what the Commission might expect regarding future updates. Pelham stated that she would keep the Commission informed.
Ali Altaha stated that corruption and corrosion have prevented the City from realizing true racial equity. He stated there were instances where City officers have hired their family members. He further stated there were instances where Local Business Enterprises had employed corrupt practices that cost the City significantly.
Item 12. Discussion and possible action on Resolution on Continuation of Remote Commission Meetings
Pelham introduced the item, noting that there have been developments in the timetable regarding on-site board and commission meetings to comply with a state resolution.
Bush requested that the Commission retain the capacity for members of the public to participate remotely even after on-site meetings resume. Bush identified himself as disabled and noted that he would attend in-person if required but acknowledged that some are more disabled than he and that this may exclude them.
Chiu also requested a hybrid structure prospectively.
No public comment was received.
Motion 211008-05 (Lee/Bush): Moved, seconded, and passed (3-0, with Commissioner Chiu having left the meeting) to adopt the resolution to continue remote meetings.
Item 13. Discussion of Executive Director’s Report. An update of various programmatic and operational highlights of Ethics Commission staff activities since the Commission’s previous meeting. The written report is available on the Commission’s website and may cover a range of topics such as the Commission’s budget, outreach activities, campaign finance disclosure and public financing programs, audit program, lobbyist program, campaign consultant program, permit consultant program, major developer program, and future staff projects. Any of these subjects may potentially be part of the Director’s presentation or discussed by the Commission.
Pelham offered her gratitude to Enforcement Director Pierce. She announced Fines Collection Officer Ernestine Braxton’s retirement. She noted that Ronald Contreraz has a new title reflecting his broader responsibilities and introduced Olabisi Matthews as the newest Senior Investigator whom the Commission recently hired, along with Corey Ordonez who will begin as a Senior Investigator next week.
No public comment was received.
Item 14. Discussion and possible action on items for future meetings.
Bush requested that at a future meeting the Commission consider the Whistleblower Protection Ordinance, including recommendations on possible changes to the law or how it is being implemented.
Item 15. Additional opportunity for public comment on matters appearing or not appearing on the agenda pursuant to Ethics Commission Bylaws Article VII Section 2.
No public comment was received.
Item 16. Adjournment.
The Commission adjourned at 2:45 p.m.