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Minutes – November 18, 2022


Minutes of the Regular Meeting of
The San Francisco Ethics Commission
Friday, November 18, 2022
Hybrid meeting conducted in-person in City Hall Room 408, 1 Dr. Carlton B.Goodlett Place, San Francisco, and also held online as a Remote Meeting via WebEx and aired live on SFGovTV
(Approved December 9, 2022)

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 SFGovTVat

(Note: A complete video recording of this meeting is available at SFGovTv.)

COMMISSION MEMBERS PRESENT: With Chair Yvonne Lee, Vice-Chair Larry Bush, and Commissioners Theis Finlev and Argemira Flórez Feng attending, a quorum was present. Commissioner Michael Romano had an excused absence.

STAFF PRESENTING: LeeAnn Pelham, Executive Director; Eamonn Wilson, Onsite Clerk; Ronald Contreraz, Online Meeting Moderator; Michael Canning, Senior Policy Analyst.



Item 1. Call to order and roll call.

Chair Yvonne Lee convened the meeting at 10:10 a.m. and stated that the hybrid meeting is being held pursuant to the Forty-fifth Supplement to Mayoral Proclamation Declaring the Existence of a Local Emergency Dated February 25, 2020, which the Mayor issued February 10, 2022. Meeting Moderator Ronald Contreraz summarized procedures for participation by members of the public for the hybrid meeting.

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

Under Item 2, the Commission provided the opportunity for general public comment on matters not appearing on the Agenda but within the Ethics Commission’s subject matter jurisdiction.

Public Comment

Francisco Da Costa stated the Sunshine Taskforce and the Ethics Commission have let the City down in recent years and the Board of Supervisors is trying to muddy the waters, he asked the Commissioners to do the right thing.

No further public comment was received and public comment on the item was closed.

Consent Calendar, Items 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7.

The Commission took up its consent calendar on Item 3, Resolution on Continuation of Remote/Hybrid Commission Meetings, Item 4, Ethics Commission Regular Meeting Schedule for Calendar Year 2023, Item 5, Director of Enforcement’s Report highlighting Enforcement Division Operations, Item 6, Executive Director’s Report highlighting various departmental programs and operations, and Item 7, Ethics Commission Annual Report Draft for the Fiscal Year ending June 30, 2022.

Chair Lee noted that Item 7 should correct the meeting start time to show 10:00am, not 9:30am, and that it will be corrected by staff.

Chair Lee called for public comment. No public comment was received.

Chair Lee called the question on Consent Calendar Items 3, 4, and 7. Items 5 and 6 were informational and required no action by the Commission.

Commissioner Finlev moved adoption of Consent Calendar Items 3, 4, and 7 and the motion was seconded by Commissioner Flórez Feng. On a roll call vote the Commission unanimously (4-0) approved the motion to approve Consent Calendar Items 3, 4, and 7.

Motion 221118-01  (Finlev/Flórez Feng): Moved, seconded, and passed unanimously (4-0) to adopt Items 3, 4, and 7 as presented on the Consent Calendar.

Item 8. The Commission is in the process of establishing a recruitment process to replace its current Executive Director, who is resigning from that position effective January 23, 2023. The purpose of this item is to discuss and potentially take action on a possible recruitment profile, possible selection of an executive search firm, to receive public comment, and consider related matters.

Chair Lee stated that at the last meeting the Commission decided to form a sub-committee comprised of herself and Commissioner Bush, with other Commissioners invited to participate as alternates if needed in future committee activities. Chair Lee reported back on the activities of the subcommittee, which included meetings with Staff.

Commissioner Bush stated that the senior Staff he met with were very forthcoming and provided specific proposals. He expressed gratitude to Staff for their feedback.

Chair Lee discussed next steps and how the Commission could be ready to accept a bid from a search firm before the December meeting, considering the November 28 deadline for responses to the RFP.

Commissioner Flórez Feng stated the 2015 job description is a good starting point.

Commissioner Finlev and Chair Lee discussed the timing of how quickly DHR would be able to make recommendations after November 28 and how quickly the Commission can select a firm after that. They also discussed the role of the subcommittee in the process.

Commissioner Finlev stated there are two things that he thinks the full Commission should be involved in the: updating the job description and after receiving applications from candidates, being able to look at all of the resumes rather than the subcommittee looking and then presenting some to the rest of the commissioners. Chair Lee and Commissioner Finlev discussed if all of the resumes can be made available to all of the Commissioners.

Russi confirmed that Commissioners can get all of the resumes directly from the search firm, so long as they do not discuss them with each other.

Commissioner Bush underscored that the Ethics Commission and its director have unique responsibilities that do not exist in other City departments and recommended the Commission be specific with what is needed in candidates.

Commissioner Flórez Feng raised matter of when the new job description needs to be prepared. Chair Lee stated it would be helpful to have it by November 29th.

Commissioner Flórez Feng asked how this would work with open meeting requirments. Russi indicated a special meeting would be needed if the Commission wanted to update the description as a body.

Russi confirmed for Chair Lee that the Commission could provide the search firm with a sample description.

Commissioner Flórez Feng and Chair Lee discussed how to go about updating the 2015 description, and Chair Lee suggested Commissioners come to the December 9th meeting with their recommended changes to the description so they can be given to the firm.

Commissioner Finlev asked to make sure that they will be able to vote on a job description at the next meeting.

Commissioner Flórez Feng stated she was under the impression that the Commission needed to make edits in open session.

Commissioner Bush stated a desire to reach out to former Commissioners and former senior staff and Chair Lee confirmed nothing would prevent Commissioners from sharing the job posting with anyone.

Commissioner Flórez Feng asked Russi about the need to recuse if voting on a friend for the position and Russi stated the need to disclose the relationship, but that they could still vote assuming no financial ties or conflicts with the person.

Public Comment

Francisco Da Costa stated that the Commission is unique and has not done its job well, it has listened to entities it should not have. He stated there are former Commissioners who should be involved in this process.

No further public comment was received and public comment on the item was closed.

Item 9. Presentation and discussion on draft behested payments regulations.

Michael Canning introduced the item as follow up from last month’s meeting and talks about the draft behested payment regulations.

Commissioner Flórez Feng suggested several language changes to the draft regulations and discussed them with Canning.

Commissioner Finlev asked clarifying question to Canning regarding the public appeals exception and Commissioner Flórez Feng suggested that be added to the compliance materials as an example.

Commissioner Finlev asked that in the future more information be provided about the issues the specific regulations are intended to address.

Public Comment

Francisco Da Costa stated it is sickening to see the Mayor’s Office muddying the waters and it should stop, there is a need for checks and balances.

Debbi Lerman stated the regulations needed more thought and clarity regarding Commissioners who also work with or for nonprofit agencies. Lerman cited the potential for a chilling effect and that the draft regulations regarding indirect solicitations are too broad.

No further public comment was received and public comment on the item was closed.

Item 10.  UPDATE WITH LABOR NEGOTIATOR – LABOR NEGOTIATIONS [Discussion and Possible Action.

This item was continued by Chair Lee to the Commission’s next regularly scheduled meeting. As a result, no discussion was held and no Labor Negotiators were present at the meeting.

Item 11.  Discussion and possible action on items for future meetings.

Chair Lee called for public comment. No public comment was received.

Item 12. Additional opportunity for public comment on matters not appearing on the agenda pursuant to Ethics Commission Bylaws Article VII Section 2.

Chair Lee called for public comment. No public comment was received.

Item 13. Adjournment.

The Commission adjourned at 11:42 p.m.

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