MINUTES OF THE STATE ETHICS COMMISSION MEETING
January 20, 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.
NEW COMMISSION MEMBER
Chairman Swartwood welcomed Commissioner William J. Trach to his first meeting as a member of the Commission and extended his best wishes.
APPROVAL OF MEETING MINUTES
On the motion of Commissioner Murphy, seconded by Commissioner Mangum, the Commission voted 4-0, with Commissioner Trach abstaining, to waive the reading and to approve the public session and executive session minutes of the December 16, 2011 meeting.
ELECTION OF THE VICE-CHAIR
Chairman Swartwood stated that with the expiration of Commission Veator’s term, a new vice-chair would need to be selected by the Commission. After discussion by the Commission, on the motion of Commissioner Mangum, seconded by Commissioner Murphy, the Commission voted 4-0, with Commissioner King abstaining, to appoint Commissioner King as the Vice-Chair.
Chairman Swartwood discussed the various committees chaired by Commission members. He asked if any Commissioners wished to change their committee assignment before assigning a committee to Commissioner Trach. No requests to change assignment were made. Chairman Swartwood stated that Commissioner Trach would serve as chairman of the Legal Committee.
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR'S REPORT
Executive Director Karen L. Nober welcomed Commissioner Trach to the Commission. She said that an event is being planned for Commissioner Veator, whose term has expired, which will be either a luncheon or an after-work social gathering. Ms. Nober will update the Commissioners in the near future.
Ms. Nober stated that Receptionist Nubia Villarroel has returned from leave, and the reception area is now fully staffed.
Ms. Nober noted that in December, she and Chief Financial Officer Michael Memmolo had met with the House Ways and Means budget analyst for the Commission. In the beginning of January, she and Mr. Memmolo also met with the budget analyst from the Executive Office of Administration and Finance for the Commission, and it was a productive meeting. Ms. Nober said they discussed additional budget funding for technical consultants to assist the Commission in addressing needs regarding its SFI electronic filing application and Ethos case management application. They discussed bond funding, and the analyst suggested that the Commission submit a bond funding proposal regarding the Ethos case management application. Ms. Nober said she also requested additional funding for a staff person for the Public Education and Communications Division.
Ms. Nober stated that the Governor plans to issue his budget proposal on Wednesday, January 25, 2012. Chairman Swartwood asked if the additional funding provided to the Commission for FY 2012 would be in place going forward, and Ms. Nober replied that the additional funding was included in the Commission’s maintenance budget request. A couple of one-time expenses were not included in the Commission’s FY 2013 request.
New Legislator Education and Training
Ms. Nober said that she will be meeting with four new members of the legislature and one member returning from military deployment to provide training on the conflict of interest law, consistent with legislative rules that require this training for all members.
Collection of Outstanding Civil Penalties
Ms. Nober stated that Mr. Memmolo will provide an update to the Commissioners at the next meeting concerning efforts to collect outstanding civil penalties imposed by the Commission, including the Commission’s participation in an intercept program administered by the Office of the State Comptroller.
Ms. Nober stated that the next Commission meeting is scheduled for Friday, February 17, 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 December 2011. He also reported that he will present a workshop on the new municipal online training program at the upcoming Mass. Municipal Association annual meeting. Mass. Town Clerks Association President Donna Hooper will serve as the workshop facilitator. Mr. Giannotti said he will also explain 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 and make it more efficient, and will present a draft of municipal knowledge check questions to obtain comment and feedback from the attendees. Mr. Giannotti stated that development of the state-county employee online training program was almost complete, and a version of the program was being tested.
The Commission had no questions.
LEGAL DIVISION MATTERS
Legal Division Metrics
General Counsel and Legal Division Chief Deirdre Roney presented the Legal Division’s metrics for December 2011. 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.
Political Activity By Commission Members
Chairman Swartwood asked Ms. Roney to clarify the Commission policy on political activity for Commission members. Ms. Roney explained that Commission policy reflects the requirements of c. 268A, the conflict of interest law. The policy allows Commission members to contribute to political campaigns for federal campaigns and campaigns for out-of-state elected positions at the state and local level. Ms. Roney said she would distribute the Commission policy to Commissioners and staff.
At 9:17 a.m., on the motion of Chairman Swartwood, seconded by Commissioner Mangum, 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 January 13, 2012, from Executive Director Karen L. Nober.
- Minutes of the State Ethics Commission Meeting of December 16, 2011, Public Session and Executive Session.
- Memorandum dated January 13, 2012, from Public Education and Communications Division Chief David Giannotti reviewing Public Education and Communications Division activities for December 2011.
- Memorandum dated January 13, 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.
Public Education and Communications Division Chief