December 2, 2022
To: Members of the Ethics Commission
From: LeeAnn Pelham, Executive Director
Subject: Agenda Item 6 – Executive Director Report for December 2022
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.
New Study by Campaign Legal Center Cites SF Ethics Streamlined Administrative Resolution Program as one of Top 10 Enforcement Upgrades by Ethics Commissions in 2022
The Ethics Commission’s Streamlined Administrative Resolution Program (SARP) is among the “Top Ten Enforcement Upgrades for Ethics Commissions” profiled for 2022 in a study issued today by the nonpartisan campaign Legal Center (CLC). According to the CLC, the purpose of this study is “to provide state and local ethics commissions with innovative enforcement upgrades to improve how they effective implement their ethics programs.” The project highlights enforcement program approaches that the CLC found to increase accountability for ethics violations, deter noncompliance, and improve the public’s trust in government, and that can be adopted without creating any new laws, rules, or regulations. The CLC plans to discuss the report at various panels during next week’s annual conference of the Council on Governmental Ethics Laws (COGEL) in Montreal. A pdf copy of the CLC report can be accessed here. The Ethics Commission was also highlighted in the CLC’s 2021 report highlighting “Top 10 Transparency Upgrades for Ethics Commissions.”
Joint FAQ on City Employee Parties Issued November 18
In advance of the year-end holiday season, the City Attorney’s Office, Controller’s Office, and our office collaborated in developing an FAQ regarding City employee parties that was distribute by the Mayor’s Office to all Departments on November 18th. The FAQ can be viewed on the City officers and employees compliance page of the Commission’s website, or accessed directly at https://sfethics.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/City-Employee-Party-FAQ-11.18.2022-FINAL.pdf .
SB 1439: New State Law to Address “Pay to Play” at the Local Level Takes Effect January 1
On January 1, 2023, a new state law takes effect that is designed to extend longstanding state “pay-to-play” restrictions to local elected officials who make contracting and certain permitting and land use decisions as a member of a local elected body. As detailed in the State Legislative Digest, the state Political reform Act currently prohibits an appointed officer of an agency from accepting, soliciting, or directing a contribution of more than $250 from any party, participant, or a party or participant’s agent, while a proceeding involving a license, permit, or other entitlement for use is pending before the agency and for 3 months following the date a final decision is rendered in the proceeding, if the officer knows or has reasons to know that the participant has a financial interest, as defined. State law also prohibits a party, participant, or participant’s agent from making a contribution of more than $250 to an officer of the agency during the proceeding and 3 months following the date a final decision is rendered. State law defines “agency” for these purposes to mean any state or local government agency, except certain entities, including local government agencies whose members are directly elected by the voters. Effective January 1, 2023, SB 1439 removes the exception for local government agencies, thereby subjecting them to the prohibition.
The legislation was signed by the Governor on September 29th and has been the subject of an opinion request from the Fair Political Practices Commission. FPPC discussions are ongoing. Ethics Commission Staff will continue to monitor that process and are working on materials to inform and support compliance by those subject to the new law. In that process we will consult with the Office of the City Attorney to coordinate on advice to officials going forward. Once finalized, additional materials will be posted on our website and distributed to interested persons.
I am sorry to announce that Engagement & Compliance Division Manager Rachel Gage has decided to accept another position with the City and County of San Francisco. Since joining the Commission staff, Rachel has made a sustained and outstanding contribution to advancing the effectiveness of our core programs through her leadership, vision, and exceptional program management skills.
Rachel joined the Commission in March 2019 as Principal Program Manager for Engagement & Compliance after having served with the Human Resources Division of the City’s General Services Agency and with the Office of Contract Administration. In July 2020, she was named Engagement & Compliance Manager to lead the Division. In that capacity she has had primary duty for planning, directing, and supervising the administration of complex and broad-reaching compliance guidance across all program areas of the Commission’s jurisdiction. Rachel’s consistent focus on excellence in customer service and on continuous improvement have been hallmarks of her work. The successful citywide launch of the Form 700 “E-filing for All” project last January is just one of many accomplishments Rachel’s skilled leadership, boundless energy, and in-depth knowledge have enabled the Commission to achieve. We are very sorry to see her go and wish her only the best in her next chapter with the City. Her last day in the office will be December 30th.
I am pleased to share news that Mary Brune will join the Commission staff on December 12 as Training and Design Specialist with the Ethics@Work program. Mary will join the team of Peter Lauterborn and Ana De Carolis to provide expertise in digital content creation and instructional design for our new outreach and educational program in both live and digital environments. Mary has an extensive background in technical and professional writing and graphic design in educational, non-profit, and for-profit settings. Most recently she was a Graphic Design Teacher with the Madison Park Academy in Oakland and also has prior experience as a program director at an environmental health center and as a technical writer for a range of technology companies in the Bay Area. She holds an MA in Instructional Technologies and a Bachelor of Arts in Technical and Professional Writing from San Francisco State University.
Overview of Ongoing Budget Priorities to be Addressed in FY24 Request
As part of a City Ordinance that took effect in 2020, departments are required to hold a public hearing concerning departmental budget priorities at which members of the public may provide input. As a matter of practice, the Commission has held this hearing as a special meeting in late January, separate from the Commission’s regular monthly meeting. The 2020 Ordinance also requires a second public hearing for input on the department’s budget proposal prior to submission of the department’s proposed budget. That hearing has typically been held at the Commission’s Regular February monthly meeting.
Each February, City departments are required to submit an annual budget proposal to the Mayor’s Office for the coming fiscal year that runs from the following July 1 through June 30 of the next calendar year. Following action by the Mayor to propose a budget for the City and subsequent action by the Board of Supervisors to adopt a City budget, the City’s new fiscal year begins on July 1.
Since 2017 the Commission has strategically focused its annual operating budget on leveraging all available resources to strengthen and improve its operations and broaden the impact of its programs to promote the highest standards of integrity in government. Building on prior years’ budget submissions, the goals identified last February in the Commission’s FY23 budget request reflected two key strategic budget priorities to magnify the reach, effectiveness, and impact of its work:
- continuity of core transparency, compliance, and oversight functions that are essential to promoting governmental accountability; and
- building capacity necessary for the Commission to deepen civic and community engagement with its programs and policy initiatives.
Staff plan to recommend that these strategic priorities continue to guide departmental budget priorities for the next fiscal year. Priority budget items this would address include the following:
- continue to fund positions for which funding will expire in the upcoming fiscal years, which includes two positions that expire on June 30, 2023 and eight positions that expire on June 30, 2024;
- professional and technology services to enable compliance with City’s requirements for web accessibility and business continuity; and
- essential tools to maintain public disclosure systems and enable departmental operations.
Staff plan to provide further detailed information about proposed departmental budget priorities in connection with the January budget hearing. That hearing is currently scheduled for the Commission’s Special Meeting planned for Friday, January 20, 2023.
The table below reflects revenues received by the Commission for the current fiscal year as of December 2, 2022.
|Account Description||FY22-23 Original Budget||FY22-23 Actuals as of 12/02/2022|
|Other General Government Charges||$2,450||$0|
|Campaign Disclosure Fines||$50,000||$413|
|Campaign Consultant Fines||$2,000||$50|
|Economic Interest Fines||$1,250||$0|
|Other Ethics Fines||$7,500||$23,600|
|Lobbyist Registration Fee||$85,000||$11,000|
|Campaign Consultant Registration Fee||$7,000||$4,750|
I look forward to answering any questions you may have at the upcoming Commission meeting.