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Acting Executive Director’s Report for June 2023


Date: June 5, 2023

To: Members of the Ethics Commission

From: Gayathri Thaikkendiyil, Acting Executive Director

Subject: Agenda Item 5 – Acting Executive Director’s Report for June 2023

Summary and Action Requested

This report provides various programmatic and operational highlights since the last report.

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

Mayor’s Proposed Budget for the Ethics Commission

On May 31, Mayor Breed released her proposed $14.6 billion City budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2023-24 and FY 2024-25. The proposed operating budget for the Ethics Commission in FY24 is $6.78 million and in FY25 is $4.88 million which represents a reduction of 5% and 32% respectively compared to FY23 operating budget. The Mayor’s proposed allocations reflect a deficit of roughly 9.4% and 35.6% from the Ethics Commission’s proposed budget submitted to the Mayor’s office on February 21.

The most significant impact of the proposed budget is on the Commission’s staffing levels, which is a reduction of 40% by FY25. If the proposed reductions are enacted, it will cut staffing required to administer the Campaign Finance program including support for the Public Financing program, eliminate the Commission’s Ethics@Work training program, and cut the Enforcement division’s capacity in half. In addition, the cuts will have an impact on other program areas to enable the department to meet its charter-mandated core functions.

The Mayor’s proposed budget in FY24 includes one-year funding for two positions, Senior IS Engineer and Client Support Specialist, for which funding is set to expire in June 2023. The proposed budget also includes an allocation of $446,860 in FY24 and $3.25 million in FY25 to the City’s Election Campaign Fund which is used to provide partial public financing for candidates for the offices of Mayor and Board of Supervisors. 

The Board of Supervisors Budget and Appropriations Committee is scheduled to begin its consideration of the Mayor’s proposed FY24 and FY25 budget with department budget presentations that start on June 14. The Ethics Commission’s budget presentations at the committee are scheduled for June 14 and 21.

The Ethics Commission Chair, Yvonne Lee, has issued a statement on June 5 highlighting the impacts of the cuts as proposed in the Mayor’s budget for the Commission. The Commission’s budget proposals and related documents are available on the budget page on its website.

New Legislation Approved Creating a Permit Prioritization Task Force

Last month, the Board of Supervisors approved legislation (File #230167) creating a Permit Prioritization Task Force responsible for developing a recommended Citywide list of prioritized permits and project types and recommending permit prioritization guidelines to the Department of Building Inspection, the Planning Department, and the Department of Public Works. The legislation requires these departments to review and update their permit prioritization guidelines periodically and have those guidelines approved by their commissions. This legislation will go into effect on June 25. The implementation of this legislation and the creation of this new task force should have little impact on Ethics Commission operations and workload. While this legislation did amend the Campaign and Governmental Conduct Code, approval by the Ethics Commission was not required, as the amendments were to Article III, Chapter 2, which is one of the chapters that does not currently require legislative amendments to first be approved by the Ethics Commission.

Racial Equity Action Plan

City departments are required to provide a progress report regarding their Racial Equity Action Plans (REAP) to the Office of Racial Equity (ORE) each year. This Plan addresses departmental racial equity priorities in the following areas: 1) hiring and recruitment; 2) retention and promotion; 3) discipline and separation; 4) diverse and equitable leadership and management; 5) mobility and professional development; 6) organizational culture of inclusion and belonging; and 7) boards and commissions. Staff recently updated the Commission’s Racial Equity Action Plan and submitted its 2023 Progress Report to ORE. The Commission’s Plan will continue to expand and evolve to reflect the full breadth of its commitments, experiences, aspirations, and practices as a Commission and staff team.

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