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

PUBLIC SESSION

 

MEETING CONVENED

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 Trach, the Commission voted 5-0 to waive the reading and approve the public session and executive session minutes for the June 15, 2012 meeting.

 

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR'S REPORT

Budget

Executive Director Karen L. Nober informed the Commission that the Governor approved the FY 2013 budget and FY 2012 supplemental budget that provided additional money for the Commission.  The Commission’s FY 2013 budget plus the monies contained in the supplemental budget represent an increase of $107,000 from the amount provided in the Governor’s FY 2013 budget proposal.  Ms. Nober stated that Chief Financial Officer Michael Memmolo did a fantastic job on the budget this year and she thanked him for his efforts.

Personnel

Ms. Nober stated that the $60,000 provided to the Commission in the FY 2012 supplemental budget will be used to hire a deputy chief in the public education and communications division.  The position was posted yesterday both on the Commonwealth Employment Opportunities website and the Commission’s website.  Applications will be accepted until about the middle of August.

Ms. Nober said that work is continuing to complete staff performance evaluation.  Ms. Nober said she will be away on vacation next week, but evaluations should be completed shortly thereafter.  Commissioners Mangum and Trach will coordinate the preparation of Ms. Nober’s evaluation.

Legal Committee Meeting

Ms. Nober said that the Legal Committee, chaired by Commissioner Trach, met this morning.  She asked Commissioner Trach to provide a report on the meeting.  Commissioner Trach said that the committee met to review a proposed advisory on public employees writing letters of recommendation.  He stated that General Counsel Deirdre Roney and Ms. Nober did a great job putting a draft together, seeking input from constituents and completing revisions.  Further input from constituents will be sought and a revised draft will be presented to the Commission for review and action at a future meeting.

Next Meeting

Ms. Nober stated that the next Commission meeting is scheduled for Friday, September 21, 2012 at 9:00 a.m.  She said that there is typically no meeting scheduled for August.

 

PUBLIC EDUCATION MATTERS

Public Education and Communications Division Chief David Giannotti presented his monthly report of Public Education Division activities for June 2012.  He also reported that he was able to electronically distribute the packet to Commissioners with no difficulty because the packet size was much smaller for this meeting.   The Commission had no questions.

Online Training Programs

Mr. Giannotti reported both online training programs are now complete.  A final meeting with Department of Revenue Employee Training and Development staff is scheduled for Tuesday, July 24, 2012 to take delivery of the programs and review instruction documents to assist system administrators with loading the programs on intranet sites.

Chairman Swartwood asked if Mr. Giannotti could provide an estimated date that the new programs will be available, and Mr. Giannotti said that we have not yet decided on how the programs will be hosted, given that PACE continues to be unavailable.  Mr. Giannotti said that the programs could be made available in the shortest possible time by having the state Information Technology Division provide web server space, but, without a learning management system (LMS), everyone will again have to print out completion certificates.  Ms. Nober stated that we would like to be able to have an LMS option for the municipal program to provide for electronic storage of completion records.

PACE

Mr. Giannotti said he spoke with Commonwealth Chief Human Resources Officer Paul Dietl about whether PACE will be available to the Commission to host the online programs.  There is still a concern about whether PACE can accommodate municipalities, and the possibility is that PACE can only handle a smaller number of users, such as 45,000 state employees.  The Human Resources Department is willing to explore the possibility of a joint project with the Commission to boost PACE’s capacity.

LMS Vendor

Mr. Giannotti stated that he is still waiting for an update from the prospective vendor on whether its LMS can work with the new online programs.  The vendor is developing some mock-ups to show how the online programs should display using its LMS.

IT Projects

Mr. Giannotti reported on the progress of a project to determine whether the Ethos case management application can continue to be supported and upgraded.  He stated that the vendor that developed and supported the application since 2005 was sold to another company that no longer sells or supports the Case One application used to build Ethos.  As a result, we no longer have maintenance and support for the application.  We were able to locate another vendor to look at the application, and make recommendations about whether we should continue to support the application or replace it.  Mr. Giannotti said that he believes the Commission will be able to continue to use and support Ethos for the next five years, at which time we will need to have a plan in place to upgrade the application to work with newer hardware or else replace it.  Mr. Giannotti noted that Information Technology Specialist/Investigator Tony Webb has done a tremendous amount of work on this and other IT projects and has done a good job working with vendors and maintaining the Commission’s information technology resources.

 

SFI MATTERS

SFI Update

Legal Division Deputy Chief/SFI Lauren Duca reported that 34 people still have not filed an SFI for calendar year 2011, 32 of whom are former public employees.  Because 8 people also filed after the 10-day grace period, 42 people likely will face civil penalties.  Ms. Duca said these matters will be referred to the Enforcement Division as soon as she and Financial Disclosure Administrator and Analyst Robert Milt can verify that the individuals at issue were listed on their agency designation lists and notified as required.  She noted that there have been instances in which an agency never told an employee about their obligation to file an SFI.  In such cases, we could not impose a civil penalty for late-filing until proper notice is given.

Ms. Duca also reported that the SFI team is current with all requests for copies of SFIs, including media requests, except for one outstanding request for 371 SFIs.  She noted that the SFI team still has 170 SFIs left to redact and review before they can be produced. 

Ms. Duca stated that Financial Disclosure Administrator and Analyst Robert Milt is working on setting up meetings in the fall with the 190 agency liaisons for him and Ms. Duca to talk about the SFI process, the liaison role in that process and the importance of the liaison role.  Ms. Duca noted that there have been instances in which agencies have over-designated employees, such as with uncompensated boards.  Ms. Duca will work to have agencies examine their designation lists before they are submitted for the next filing season.  She also discussed the proposed new regulation requiring that when a person is hired into an SFI position, he or she is notified by their agency about the obligation to file an SFI, and the Commission is also notified about the hiring.

Ms. Duca said she is working on drafting a manual and handbook on the SFI process.  She, Mr. Milt and Ms. Roney will be reviewing and revising the SFI form and instructions to create a form that is easier to understand, complete and redact.

The Commission had no questions.

 

ENFORCEMENT DIVISION MATTERS

Enforcement Division Deputy Chief Karen Gray presented Enforcement Division metrics for FY 2012.

The Commission had no questions.

 

LEGAL DIVISION MATTERS

Proposed Amended Commission Regulations

General Counsel and Legal Division Chief Deirdre Roney stated that she inadvertently failed to file an amended small business impact statement with the Secretary of State’s office prior to the Commission voting to adopt the proposed amended regulations at the June 15, 2012 meeting.  She filed the statement on June 18, 2012.  She requested that the Commission re-vote to approve the proposed amended regulations and also approve a technical change to 930 CMR 3.02(3)(b) to clarify that the procedure about how board members handle disclosures containing confidential information is also available for elected board members as well as appointed board members.

After discussion by the Commission, on the motion of Commissioner Murphy, seconded by Commissioner King, the Commission voted 5-0 to approve and adopt the following new or amended regulations:  930 CMR 1.01, 1.02(8), 2.05, 3.01, 3.02, 5.00, 6.00, and 8.00, as presented to the Commission at its meeting on July 20, 2012, and as revised by the Commission at that meeting; and to authorize staff to conclude procedures required by the Administrative Procedure Act, G.L. c. 30A, and related regulations and procedures for such adoption.

Legal Division Metrics

Ms. Roney presented a report on Legal Division metrics for FY 2012.  The Commission had no questions.

Ms. Roney presented the following Legal Division metrics for June 2012. 

  • Written advice.  In June 2012, the Legal Division answered by letter or email 35 requests for advisory opinions.

For comparison:  2008 monthly average (pre-Ethics Reform):  31
                          2010 monthly average (post-Ethics Reform):  52
                          May 2012 (last month):  44

  • Oral advice.  During this same period, Legal Division attorneys provided legal advice by telephone or on a walk-in basis to 448 persons.

For comparison:  2008 monthly average (pre-Ethics Reform):  280
                          2010 monthly average (post-Ethics Reform):  450
                          May 2012 (last month):  463

  • Review of municipal letters.  We reviewed 10 letters issued by city solicitors/town counsel pursuant to G.L. c. 268A, § 22 and 930 CMR 1.03.

For comparison:  2008 monthly average (pre-Ethics Reform):  6
                          2010 monthly average (post-Ethics Reform):  8
                          May 2012 (last month):  5                     

  • Backlog.  As of today, the Legal Division has 13 pending requests for written advice that are more than 30 days old, the oldest of which was received on January 12, 2012.  There are 24 pending requests for written advice.

The Commission had no questions.

 

Legal Division Special Projects

Ms. Roney provided the Commission with a list of the special projects currently being worked on by the members of the Legal Division. 

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.

In Re Guy Glodis, Docket No. 12-0008:  Ms. Roney requested that the Chairman assign a hearing officer for this adjudicatory matter.  Chairman Swartwood assigned himself to handle the adjudicatory hearing.  Legal Division Staff Counsel Norah Mallam will serve as the legal advisor.

Litigation Matter

Ms. Roney provided an update on the Commission’s only litigation matter, Theresa Lord Piatelli v. SEC, SUCV2010-02123-B.  Piatelli filed a notice of appeal from Judge Giles’ October 19, 2011 Decision and Order upholding the Commission’s decision.  Piatelli has until September to perfect her appeal from Judge Giles’ October 19, 2011 Decision and Order.

The Commission had no questions.

Amicus Brief

Ms. Roney presented a memorandum regarding a request by the Supreme Judicial Court for amicus briefs in Leder v. Rigby, SJC-11224.  The issue presents an opportunity for the Commission to present its views on amendments to c. 268A relevant to whether a private party may sue for alleged conflict of interest violations.

After discussion by the Commission, on the motion of Commissioner Trach, seconded by Commissioner Mangum, the Commission voted 5-0 to authorize the Legal Division to prepare a draft amicus brief for consideration by the Commission.  Ms. Roney stated that oral arguments in the case are scheduled for October 2012.  She will present a draft brief for the Commission’s review at the September meeting.

 

EXECUTIVE SESSION

At 9:46 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 cases deferred, preliminary inquiry recommendations and reports, summons authorization requests, closing memoranda, disposition agreements, public and private education letters, advisory opinions and deliberations. 

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 following the executive session.

 

LIST OF DOCUMENTS USED FOR THIS MEETING

  1. Agenda for the Commission Meeting of July 20, 2012.
  2. Minutes of the State Ethics Commission Meeting for June 15, 2012 Public Session and Executive Session.
  1. Memorandum dated July 13, 2012 from David Giannotti to the Commission concerning Public Education and Communications Division activities for June 2012.
  1. Memorandum dated July 12, 2012 from Stephen P. Fauteux to the Commission presenting FY 2012 Enforcement Division metrics.
  1. Memorandum dated July 12, 2012 from Deirdre Roney to the Commission setting forth Legal Division matters for meeting.
  2. Memorandum dated July 12, 2012 from Deirdre Roney to the Commission presenting the Legal Division FY 2012 report.
  1. Calendar of Hearing Dates and Pre-Hearing Conferences in pending Commission Adjudicatory Proceedings.
  1. Memorandum dated July 12, 2012 from Deirdre Roney to the Commission concerning an SJC request for amicus briefs in Leder v. Rigby, SJC-11224.


Respectfully submitted,


David Giannotti
Public Education and Communications
Division Chief