MINUTES OF THE STATE ETHICS COMMISSION MEETING
February 17, 2012
One Ashburton Place, Room 619
Boston, MA 02108
Chairman Charles B. Swartwood, III called the meeting to order at 9:00 a.m. Also in attendance were Commissioners Patrick J. King, Paula Finley Mangum, Martin F. Murphy and William J. Trach.
APPROVAL OF MEETING MINUTES
On the motion of Commissioner King, seconded by Commissioner Murphy, the Commission voted 5-0 to waive the reading and to approve the public session and executive session minutes of the January 20, 2012 meeting.
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR'S REPORT
Executive Director Karen L. Nober stated that SFI Financial Control Analyst David Mesquita will retire on April 20, 2012 after 15 years with the Commission. Ms. Nober commended Mr. Mesquita for his service to the Commission and for taking on additional responsibilities in order to keep the SFI process running smoothly after Anne Marie Quinlivan died in 2009.
Ms. Nober said that budget hearings on the Commission’s FY13 budget will be held in Springfield on February 28, 2012. Ms. Nober and Chief Financial Officer Michael Memmolo will attend and Ms. Nober will testify on behalf of the Commission’s budget. The Governor’s proposed budget level funds the Commission for FY13. Last year, the Governor proposed a 2% cut. Ms. Nober said that the Commission has 24 employees, and 16 are subject to collective bargaining agreements, which will cost an additional $58,000 in FY13. Ms. Nober said she will advocate for additional funding.
Disclosures by Commission Members and Staff
Ms. Nober said that she plans next month to present for the Commission’s review a revised disclosure process for Commissioners and staff. She said that the Jefferson/Wormser adjudicatory matter raised the question of how to file a required disclosure if facts that would be typically disclosed are required to be confidential, such as in that case, the identity of special education students, which is confidential under federal law. The Commission said in the Jefferson/Wormser decision that a generic disclosure would suffice. Ms. Nober said that disclosures by Commission staff in connection with confidential cases also raise this issue. Ms. Nober also said procedural issues are raised by the Commissioners’ disclosures. Proposed recommendations will be presented at the next Commission meeting.
New Disclosure Forms
Ms. Nober said that Legal Division Staff Counsel Amy Nee has revised and created new disclosure forms and instruction documents to be more user-friendly. Ms. Nober wished to acknowledge the efforts of Ms. Nee, as well as the efforts of Information Technology Specialist Tony Webb and Public Education and Communications Division Administrative Assistant Carolyn Teehan for uploading the new disclosure forms to the website.
Commissioner David Veator
Ms. Nober announced that an after-work event for Commissioner Veator, whose term on the Commission has expired, is tentatively scheduled for March. Ms. Nober provided several possible dates. After discussion by the Commission, the event was scheduled for March 21, 2012, with an alternate date of March 29, 2012.
Ms. Nober stated that the next Commission meeting is scheduled for Friday, March 16, 2012, at 9:00 a.m.
CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICERS'S REPORT
Chief Financial Officer Michael Memmolo presented a memorandum updating the Commissioners concerning staff efforts to collect outstanding civil penalties, including the Commission’s participation in an intercept program administered by the Office of the State Comptroller. In response to questions from Commissioners, Ms. Nober said that in situations where the state holds no funds to intercept, the Commission can sue to recover unpaid civil penalties, but would want to consider whether a civil action would be cost-effective. Mr. Memmolo said that the Commission can also refer unpaid penalties to a collection agency, but we would need to satisfy any concerns over collection agency procedures. Mr. Memmolo also said that the Comptroller’s intercept program would rank or prioritize participating agencies such that the Commission may only receive a portion of any collection, if the person also owed other agencies money, such as for child support.
PUBLIC EDUCATION DIVISION MATTERS
Public Education and Communications Division Chief David Giannotti presented his monthly report of public education division activities for January 2012. He also reported that he reviewed the new municipal online training program at the recent Mass. Town Clerks Association winter meeting and explained how municipalities can use the state Human Resources Division’s PACE learning management system to greatly facilitate the record-keeping required by the mandatory conflict of interest law education requirements. Mr. Giannotti said the feedback from the town clerks has been positive. Mr. Giannotti also stated that testing had begun on the online training program for state and county employees, and the feedback has been very positive. The program will be finalized shortly.
ENFORCEMENT DIVISION MATTERS
Enforcement Division Chief Stephen P. Fauteux introduced Attorney Timothy Gravel, who has volunteered to work in the Enforcement Division. The Commission welcomed Mr. Gravel.
FY 2012 Second Quarter Metrics
Mr. Fauteux presented the Enforcement Division second quarter metrics for FY 12. The Commission had no questions.
Mr. Fauteux updated the Commissioners on staff training activities. He said that Enforcement Division Staff Counsel Nancy Rothstein is a trial advocacy instructor, and in October 2011 she conducted a cross examination seminar for attorneys in the Enforcement Division. Mr. Fauteux commended Ms. Rothstein’s work in presented the seminar. In January 2012, Enforcement Division Staff Counsel Candies Pruitt-Doncaster conducted request for admissions training for Enforcement Division staff attorneys. Mr. Fauteux commended Ms. Pruitt-Doncaster’s work in presenting the training. In February 2012, Enforcement Division attorneys attended a two-day deposition training class conducted by the Attorney General’s Office.
LEGAL DIVISION MATTERS
Legal Division Metrics
General Counsel and Legal Division Chief Deirdre Roney presented the Legal Division’s metrics for January 2012. The Commission had no questions.
Ms. Roney presented the calendar of hearing dates and pre-hearing conferences in pending Commission adjudicatory proceedings. The Commission had no questions.
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.
At 9:27 a.m., on the motion of Chairman Swartwood, seconded by Commissioner Trach, the Commission voted 5-0 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. Chairman Swartwood stated that these matters will include complaints, preliminary inquiry recommendations and reports, summons authorization requests, closing memoranda, disposition agreements, public and private education letters and advisory opinions.
VOTE: Chairman Swartwood yes
Commissioner King yes
Commissioner Mangum yes
Commissioner Murphy yes
Commissioner Trach yes
Chairman Swartwood stated that the Commission would not reconvene in public session after the executive session.
LIST OF DOCUMENTS USED FOR THIS MEETING
- Meeting Agenda Memorandum, dated February 10, 2012, from Executive Director Karen L. Nober.
- Minutes of the State Ethics Commission Meeting of January 20, 2012, Public Session and Executive Session.
- Memorandum dated February 9, 2012 from Chief Financial Officer Michael Memmolo reviewing the process to collect outstanding civil penalties.
- Memorandum dated February 10, 2012, from Public Education and Communications Division Chief David Giannotti reviewing Public Education and Communications Division activities for January 2012.
- Memorandum dated February 10, 2012, from General Counsel Deirdre Roney to the Commission setting forth Legal Division matters for meeting.
- Calendar of Hearing Dates and Pre-Hearing Conferences in pending Commission adjudicatory proceedings.
- Memorandum with attachments, dated February 9, 2012, from Enforcement Division Chief Stephen P. Fauteux reviewing Enforcement Division metric as of December 31, 2011.
Public Education and Communications Division Chief