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Minutes - February 24, 2014

Minutes of the Regular Meeting of
The San Francisco Ethics Commission
February 24, 2014
Room 400, City Hall
1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place
San Francisco, CA 94102

I. Call to order and roll call.

Chairperson Hayon called the meeting to order at 5:30 PM.

COMMISSION MEMBERS PRESENT: Beverly Hayon, Chairperson; Paul Renne, Vice-Chairperson; Brett Andrews, Commissioner; Benedict Y. Hur, Commissioner; Peter Keane, Commissioner.

STAFF PRESENT: John St. Croix, Executive Director; Garrett Chatfield, Investigator/Legal Analyst.

OFFICE OF THE CITY ATTORNEY: Josh White, Deputy City Attorney (DCA).

OTHERS PRESENT: Ray Hartz and one unidentified member of the public.

MATERIALS DISTRIBUTED:
- Compliant filed in Herrera v. Yaki, Case No. CGC-13-535880, filed on Dec. 4, 2013; proposed settlement agreement re Herrera v. Yaki; proposed settlement agreement re Ruben Grijalva;
- Draft minutes of the Commission’s Regular Meeting of January 27, 2014;
- Executive Director’s Report.

II. Public comment on matters appearing or not appearing on the agenda that are within the jurisdiction of the Ethics Commission.

Ray Hartz stated that he won 16 out of 21 Sunshine Ordinance Task Force complaints that he brought before that body. He stated that the Ethics Commission is not interested in protecting the public and is only interested in protecting City wrongdoers. He stated that Luis Herrera perjured himself and withheld public records and that he abused his position.

The following written summary was provided by the speaker, Ray Hartz, the content of which is neither generated by, nor subject to approval or verification of accuracy by, the Ethics Commission:

On the screen is a list of 16 Orders of Determination issued by the SOTF in cases I have filed. That 16 out of 21, a 76% success rate! Now I’ll ask the commissioners to take a guess how many of these have been enforced? The answer is zero! What I think is particularly interesting is the fact of all the cases sent to this Ethics Commission, you’ve dismissed every one. The members of this body have absolutely no interest in helping the citizens of San Francisco, but only in protecting the City against its citizens! Another interesting fact is that many of these cases involve violations of the law by the people who appoint you. So, what do San Franciscans get for the millions of dollars it cost to support this body each year? What we get is an infrastructure designed only to cover the backsides of City wrongdoers.

III. Election of Officers. The Commission will elect a Chair and Vice-chair to serve for the coming year.

Executive Director St. Croix introduced the item and stated that no second to a motion for Chairperson or Vice-Chairperson is required, and that a Commissioner may nominate himself or herself for Chairperson or Vice-Chairperson.

The Commissioners thanked Chairperson Hayon for her service.

Commissioner Keane nominated and moved that Commissioner Hur serve as the new Chairperson for 2014.

Public Comment:
Ray Hartz posted contact information on the overhead projector and requested members of the public who might be watching the Ethics Commission meeting at home to contact him with any comments they may have. He also stated that Luis Herrera perjured himself on his Statement of Economic Interests and the Ethics Commission did nothing.

The following written summary was provided by the speaker, Ray Hartz, the content of which is neither generated by, nor subject to approval or verification of accuracy by, the Ethics Commission:

The election of officers for this body is like “rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic!” It doesn’t seem to matter who’s in charge, absolutely nothing gets done that actually changes the ethical atmosphere of San Francisco. I’ve asked before, but one more time: tell me something that the members of this body have done to actually make public participation in government possible? How about something which would prevent City employees from violating the law to cover their own asses? City Librarian Luis Herrera, after withholding public records unlawfully for over two years, was only found guilty of perjury after the case was brought before a state agency. During that process there was not one participant to the complaint who ever considered bringing it to you! You are only here to enforce the law when your Political Masters direct you to do so. Your record clearly establishes this fact!

Motion 14-02-24-01 (Keane) Moved and passed (5-0) that Commissioner Hur serve as Chairperson for 2014.

Commissioner Andrews nominated and moved that Commissioner Keane serve as the Vice-Chairperson for 2014.

Commissioner Keane declined the nomination stating that he would like more experience on the Commission before serving as Vice-Chairperson.

Commissioner Keane nominated and moved that Vice-Chairperson Renne continue to serve as Vice-Chairperson for 2014.

Public Comment:

Ray Hartz stated that the Ethics Commission does nothing to improve ethical behavior in the City. He stated that the Mirkarimi hearing was a fiasco. He stated that the Ethics Commission only deals with campaign finance laws and does nothing to improve open government. He stated that the Library Commission and Police Commission stop members of the public from speaking. He stated that he sounds like an angry old man, but after five years of seeing nothing get done he is offended that City officials do not adhere to their oaths.

Motion 14-02-24-02 (Keane) Moved and passed (5-0) that Vice-Chairperson Renne serve as Vice-Chairperson for 2014.

IV. Discussion and possible action regarding existing litigation.

Commissioner Hur requested to be recused from this item because a partner at his law firm represented Michael Yaki.

Public Comment:
None.

Motion 14-02-24-03 (Hur/Keane) Moved, seconded, and passed (5-0) that Commissioner Hur be recused from Agenda Item IV.

Commissioner Hur left the dais at 5:48 PM.

a. Public Comment on all matters pertaining to Agenda Item IV, including whether to meet in closed session.

None.

b. Discussion and vote to assert attorney-client privilege and convene in closed session with the City Attorney for the purpose of conferring with, or receiving advice from, the City Attorney regarding proposed settlements for existing and potential litigation under Brown Act section 54956.9(a) and 54956.9(c) and Administrative Code section 67.10(d).

DCA White stated that closed session was necessary for this item because the settlement occurred in the context of pending litigation and that in order to preserve the attorney-client privilege, any discussion regarding the matter had to occur in closed session.

Commissioner Keane stated that even though the litigation was filed by the City Attorney’s Office, the Ethics Commission is discussing the matter as the City Attorney’s client and closed session is necessary to ensure the attorney-client privilege is not waived.

Public Comment:
Ray Hartz stated that Commissioner Hur should also leave the hearing room during closed session because he was recused from the agenda item.

Chairperson Hayon stated that by recusing himself from the item, Commissioner Hur understood he was required to leave the room during closed session.

Motion 14-02-24-04 (Renne/Andrews) Moved, seconded, and passed (4-0, Hur recused) that the Ethics Commission go into closed session.

The Ethics Commission went into closed session at 5:54 PM. Commissioner Hur, Ray Hartz, and the one unidentified member of the public left the hearing room. Chairperson Hayon, Vice-Chairperson Renne, Commissioners Andrews and Keane, Executive Director St. Croix, Ethics Commission staff member Garrett Chatfield, and DCA Josh White remained in the hearing room during closed session.

c. Discussion and possible action on proposed settlements in the following matters:

i. Dennis J. Herrera, in his Official Capacity as San Francisco City Attorney v. Michael Yaki, Case No. CGC-13-535880, filed in the Superior Court of the State of California, City and County of San Francisco, on December 4, 2013.

ii. Potential litigation against Ruben Grijalva for alleged violations of the City’s Lobbyist Ordinance.

The Ethics Commission returned to open session at 7:20 PM.

Motion 14-02-04-05 (Renne/Keane) Moved, seconded and passed (4-0, Hur recused) that the Ethics Commission disclose that it adopted both settlement agreements in closed session and that it keep confidential the discussion that occurred during closed session.

Commissioner Hur rejoined the Commission on the dais at 7:21 PM. Commissioner Hur stated that his law-firm walled him off from this litigation.

V. Discussion and possible action on the minutes of the Commission’s meeting of January 27, 2014.

Commissioner Keane directed staff to amend a section of the minutes that incorrectly characterized a member of the public’s comments regarding Juliet Ellis. Executive Director St. Croix stated staff would make the necessary change.

Public Comment:
Ray Hartz stated that he wanted to acknowledge Dr. Kerr who continues to work to raise the ethical level of City government. He stated that the Ethics Commission does not protect City employees and that it was incompetent in its handling of Dr. Kerr’s complaint. He stated that Ethics Commission as a group is a collective disaster.

The following written summary was provided by the speaker, Ray Hartz, the content of which is neither generated by, nor subject to approval or verification of accuracy by, the Ethics Commission:

In these minutes I would like to comment only on item II. First I want to acknowledge Dr. Derek Kerr for all that he did, and continues to do, to raise the ethical level of City government. What Dr. Kerr endured sends a loud and clear message to the employees of the City: don’t report wrongdoing! Follow the example of this Ethics Commission and “just look the other way!” The Ethics Commission handling of the matter was at best incompetent. My personal opinion it was nothing less than collusion with other City entities to cover up wrongdoing! The final outcome: not one City employee was held accountable. The only losers were the citizens of San Francisco who ended up paying $750,000 and God only knows how much in legal fees to bring this matter to a conclusion. My question to you: what the hell are we paying you to do?

Motion 14-02-04-06 (Andrews/Renne) Moved, seconded and passed (5-0) that the Ethics Commission approve the minutes as amended.

VI. Discussion of Executive Director’s Report.

Executive Director St. Croix introduced the item and noted two typographical errors. He also stated that two matters referred to the Bureau of Delinquent Revenue have been litigated and one is set for litigation. The Executive Director also stated that the Ethics Commission only has the legal authority to impose fines for late filing or non-filing of Statement of Economic Interests (SEI), and that the California Fair Political Practices Commission is the agency with the jurisdiction to enforce false or incorrect information that is disclosed on an SEI in violation of state law.

Ethics Commission staff member Garrett Chatfield responded to Commissioner Andrews stating that the increase in revenue regarding lobbyist fees is due to the annual registration fees collected in January of each year.

DCA White stated that revisions to the Lobbyist Ordinance are scheduled to be discussed by the Board of Supervisors in March 2014.

Public Comment:
Ray Hartz stated that he just heard the Executive Director state that if a City Official perjures himself or herself on an SEI, the Ethics Commission does nothing. He asked if that was what the Ethics Commission advises to City employees. He stated that Luis Herrera perjured himself on his SEI and that the Ethics Commission training is ineffective and its enforcement is non-existent.

The following written summary was provided by the speaker, Ray Hartz, the content of which is neither generated by, nor subject to approval or verification of accuracy by, the Ethics Commission:

There are two items I would like to discuss. The first is item number 2, where we see that everyone has finally learned sending Sunshine Ordinance referrals to you is a pointless exercise! The second is item number 7, where I would like to ask a question: exactly what do you train City employees about their responsibilities? I previously showed Luis Herrera’s false filings for 2009, let’s look at 2010 and 2011. As you can see, Herrera filed statements under penalty of perjury where he claimed he received nothing of value. His revised forms show that each year he had received thousands of dollars from “The Friends” and then proceeded to lie and say he received nothing! The library commission would have you believe these were “bookkeeping errors” as opposed to blatant, knowing, and willful violations of the law! Bottom line: your training is obviously ineffective and your enforcement nonexistent!

VII. Items for future meetings.

Commissioner Keane requested a future item for the March 2014 Ethics Commission meeting to discuss sending a letter to the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission recommending Juliet Ellis be terminated for her violations of the Conflict of Interest Code.

Public Comment:
Ray Hartz stated that the Ethics Commission should solicit public input regarding what the public thinks the Ethics Commission should be doing. He stated that the Ethics Commission only conducts business based on a hidden agenda dictated by each Commissioner’s appointing authority. He stated that the Ethics Commission sends a message that it will not protect whistleblowers.

The following written summary was provided by the speaker, Ray Hartz, the content of which is neither generated by, nor subject to approval or verification of accuracy by, the Ethics Commission:

You know what I’d like to see in future agendas for this Ethics Commission? I would like to see you actively solicit input from the citizens of San Francisco about what they would like you to be doing! What they would like to see from you that would actually give them some hope that you intend to raise the ethical standards in San Francisco government. From my experience anything and everything you do is based on some “hidden agenda” given to you by your political masters! Each and every one of you answer to your appointing authority rather than to the citizens of the City. As far as I can tell, your existence is worse than meaningless. Your existence causes far more harm than any good it does. This body does everything within its power to stand in the way of those who try to clean up the City!

VIII. Public comment on matters appearing or not appearing on the agenda that are within the jurisdiction of the Ethics Commission.

None.

IX. Adjournment.

Motion 14-02-24-07 (Keane/Renne) Moved, seconded and passed (5-0) that the Ethics Commission adjourn.

The meeting adjourned at 7:43 PM.