MINUTES OF THE STATE ETHICS COMMISSION MEETING
April 20, 2012
One Ashburton Place, Room 619
Boston, MA  02108

PUBLIC SESSION

 

MEETING CONVENED

Vice Chairman Patrick J. King called the meeting to order at 9:05 a.m.  Also in attendance were Commissioners Paula Finley Mangum, Martin F. Murphy and William J. Trach.  Chairman Charles B. Swartwood, III was absent.

 

APPROVAL OF MEETING MINUTES

On the motion of Commissioner Mangum, seconded by Commissioner Trach, the Commission voted 4-0 to waive the reading and to approve the public session and executive session minutes of the March 16, 2012 meeting.

 

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR'S REPORT

Personnel

Executive Director Karen L. Nober stated that today is SFI Financial Analyst David Mesquita’s last day with the Commission.  Ms. Nober expressed her thanks and appreciation for Mr. Mesquita’s service to the Commission, especially in maintaining the SFI filing process since the passing of Anne Marie Quinlivan in June 2009. 

 

SFI Financial Analyst Position

Ms. Nober said that 70 applications were received for the SFI Financial Analyst position.  Eight first round and three second round interviews were conducted.  Reference checks will be completed on the two finalists.

 

SFI

Ms. Nober stated that until a person is hired for the SFI Financial Analyst position, the Legal Division will provide assistance to filers.  Information Technology Specialist Tony Webb will assist filers with technology related questions.

Ms. Nober said that, as of April 19, 2012, 1,800 out of 5,000 filers have filed their 2011 SFIs.

 

Budget

Ms. Nober said that the House of Representatives issued its FY 2013 budget on April 11, 2012.  The budget proposes level-funding the Commission.  Representative Peter Kocot has filed a budget amendment which would increase the Commission’s funding by $200,000.  He filed similar amendments on behalf of the Office Campaign and Political Finance and the Inspector General’s Office.  Ms. Nober said that Rep. Kocot filed a similar budget amendment last year, which resulted in a budget increase for FY 2012.  Ms. Nober has been discussing the Commission’s budget with Rep. Kocot.  In addition, Ms. Nober has provided additional information to the House Ways and Means Committee. 

 

Online Training

Ms. Nober said that the online training programs are in good shape, although an issue has arisen with the PACE learning management system (LMS).  PACE is an LMS application maintained by the state Human Resources Division (HRD), and they are working to resolve the issue.  Ms. Nober said that the Commission has been working with HRD with the understanding that the online training programs would be made available on PACE.  The benefit of PACE is that it provides an electronic record-keeping solution as opposed to requiring public employees to print out completion certificates.  Municipalities in particular had expressed concerns with the record-keeping requirements for the online training programs, and the ability to use PACE will provide an electronic record-keeping solution at no cost.  Ms. Nober said that it is unknown at this time how long PACE will be unavailable to the Commission, and so we are exploring possible alternatives, such as having the state Information Technology Division host the programs on its servers, or engaging the services of a vendor that can provide an LMS to host the programs.  Either alternative may require that the Commission pay for equipment and/or yearly maintenance costs.  In the event PACE becomes available on a limited basis, we would look to have PACE available to the municipalities, and state and county agencies would access the state-county employee program through some other means.

 

Enforcement Committee Meeting

Ms. Nober said that the Enforcement Committee meeting has been rescheduled for Monday, April 30, 2012 at 11:00 a.m.

 

Next Meeting

Ms. Nober stated that the next Commission meeting is scheduled for Friday, May 18, 2012, at 9:00 a.m.  

 

PUBLIC EDUCATION DIVISION MATTERS

Public Education and Communications Division Chief David Giannotti presented his monthly report of public education division activities for March 2012.  Mr. Giannotti stated that a final round of testing has been completed for the state-county employee online training program and it is ready once the PACE issue is resolved.  The municipal employee online training program has gone through a first round of testing, and we are awaiting from DOR a revised version of the program to complete additional testing.  Mr. Giannotti also provided additional information on the availability of the PACE learning management system, and efforts to explore alternatives to PACE.

Mr. Giannotti informed the Commissioners about an upcoming media report to be produced by the New England Center for Investigative Reporting at Boston University, which may be broadcast on Sunday by Channel 5, concerning a history of enforcement actions against public employees in the New England states over the last five years. 

 

LEGAL DIVISION MATTERS

Proposed Revisions to Regulations

General Counsel and Legal Division Chief Deirdre Roney presented an update on revised Commission Regulations, including a memorandum on the public comments received concerning proposed changes to the regulations, a draft of the proposed changes to the regulations, and a memorandum detailing the significant changes to the regulations.  After discussion by the Commission, Ms. Roney stated that she would present the changes for approval by the Commission at the May meeting.

 

Legal Division Metrics

Ms. Roney presented the Legal Division’s metrics for March 2012. 

The Commission had no questions.

 

Adjudicatory Matters

Ms. Roney presented the calendar of hearing dates and pre-hearing conferences in pending Commission adjudicatory proceedings.

The Commission had no questions.

 

Litigation Update

Ms. Roney reported on the status of a pending litigation matter, Theresa Lord Piatelli v. SEC, SUCV2010-02123-B.  Ms. Piatelli has filed a notice of appeal from Judge Giles’ October 19, 2011 Decision and Order upholding the Commission’s decision.  The Appeals Court has requested that the Superior Court assemble the record.

 

MEETING IN RECESS

At 10:21 a.m., Vice Chairman King called for a brief recess.

At 10:27 a.m., Vice Chairman King called the meeting to order.

 

EXECUTIVE SESSION

At 10:27 a.m., on the motion of Vice Chairman King, seconded by Commissioner Murphy, the Commission voted 4-0 to enter into executive session to discuss matters subject to the provisions of G.L. c. 30A, § 21, subparagraph (a)(7) and G.L. c. 268B, §§ 3 and 4.  Vice Chairman King stated that these matters will include deferred cases, preliminary inquiry recommendations and reports, summons authorization requests, closing memoranda, disposition agreements, public and private education letters and advisory opinions. 

VOTE:          

Commissioner King                            yes      
Commissioner Mangum                     yes      
Commissioner Murphy                        yes      
Commissioner Trach                           yes      

Vice Chairman King stated that the Commission would not reconvene in public session after the executive session.

 

LIST OF DOCUMENTS USED FOR THIS MEETING

  1. Meeting Agenda Memorandum, dated April 13, 2012, from Executive Director Karen L. Nober.
  1. Minutes of the State Ethics Commission Meeting of March 16, 2012, Public Session and Executive Session.
  1. Memorandum dated April 13, 2012, from Public Education and Communications Division Chief David Giannotti reviewing Public Education and Communications Division activities for March 2012.
  1. Memorandum dated April 12, 2012, from General Counsel Deirdre Roney to the Commission setting forth Legal Division matters for meeting.
  1. Memorandum dated April 12, 2012 from General Counsel Deirdre Roney to the Commission concerning public comment on the proposed amended regulations, with attachments B-D.
  1. Calendar of Hearing Dates and Pre-Hearing Conferences in pending Commission adjudicatory proceedings.

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

David Giannotti
Public Education and Communications Division Chief