MINUTES OF THE STATE ETHICS COMMISSION MEETING
June 15, 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.  

 

CLOSING ARGUMENTS

In Re Charles Famolare, III, Docket No. 11-0015:

Closing Arguments in the matter were conducted before the Commission. 

The Respondent, Charles Famolare, III, was represented by Attorney Mark D. Smith and Attorney Mark Laredo of Laredo & Smith, LLP.  Attorney Smith presented his closing argument beginning at 9:00 a.m. and ending at 9:17 a.m. 

The Petitioner, the Enforcement Division of the Commission, was represented by Enforcement Division Staff Counsel Candies Pruitt-Doncaster.  Attorney Pruitt-Doncaster presented her closing argument beginning at 9:17 a.m. and ending at 9:33 a.m.

Rebuttal arguments were then presented, and closing arguments were concluded at 9:36 a.m.

 

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 May 18, 2012 meeting. 

 

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR'S REPORT

Enforcement Committee Meeting Minutes

Executive Director Karen L. Nober informed the Commission that she revised the April 30, 2012 minutes of the Enforcement Committee meeting as directed by the Chairman at the May Commission meeting.

 

Personnel

Ms. Nober introduced SFI Financial Disclosure Administrator and Analyst Robert Milt and said that Mr. Milt comes to the Commission from the Senate, where he was Special Legislative Assistant in the Senate Counsel’s office.  The Commission welcomed Mr. Milt and extended best wishes for his success.

 

Performance Evaluations

Ms. Nober stated that the process for annual performance evaluations will begin shortly, having been slightly delayed by vacation schedules.

 

Budget

Ms. Nober reported that the Legislature approved a supplemental budget for FY 2012, which provides an additional $60,000 to the Commission.  Although funding appropriated for FY 2012 typically has to be spent by the end of the fiscal year, the Senate added language to allow the Commission to spend the money in FY 2013.  Ms. Nober said that at meetings she and Chief Financial Officer Michael Memmolo had with the Governor’s budget staff and with the Legislature’s budget staff, she identified her top two priorities as funding the collective bargaining increases and providing a deputy for the Public Education and Communications Division to assist Division Chief David Giannotti.  The supplemental budget was approved by the legislature yesterday, and now moves to the Governor for final approval.

 

Online Training

Ms. Nober stated the online training programs are still delayed due to a problem with the state’s PACE learning management system.  She stated that Mr. Giannotti will discuss the issue further, but at this time there is not a clear picture about when or if PACE might become available.

 

Proposed New and Amended Regulations

Ms. Nober noted that two of the regulations considered at last month’s meeting by the Commission are being brought back for further consideration.  She stated that, in particular, the proposed regulation allowing elected state officials to participate in certain matters affecting their constituents, when they themselves have a financial interest, needed to be redrafted to provide more flexibility.

 

Next Meeting

Ms. Nober stated that the next Commission meeting is scheduled for Friday, July 20, 2012 at 9:00 a.m.  She said that there is typically no meeting scheduled for August.

 

PUBLIC EDUCATION MATTERS

Mr. Giannotti presented his monthly report of Public Education Division activities for May 2012.  Mr. Giannotti also discussed the process for electronically providing the Commission meeting packet to Commissioners.  He noted that the packet materials needed to be compressed, or zipped, in order to accommodate email delivery, but the zip file was too large due to the amount of documents relating to the adjudicatory matter.  The packet was divided and sent as two emails, one for the regular meeting and one for deliberations.  However, the regular meeting packet file was still too large to pass through the Commission’s email server.  As a result, the zip files had to be sent from a staff home email address to Commissioners’ home email addresses.  Mr. Giannotti said this issue should not occur too often in the future, and so Commissioners can receive the packet electronically if they so choose. 

The Commission had no questions.

Mr. Giannotti said that the online training program for state and county employees has been finalized, and the program for municipal employees is being tested and should be finalized shortly.  The state’s PACE learning management system (LMS) is still unavailable.  The stability issue has been resolved, but the Commission has not received any information about if or when PACE might be made available for the new online training programs.  Mr. Giannotti said that in the event PACE will not be available, he is exploring alternatives we can use to make the programs available.  An application has been submitted to the state Information Technology Division (ITD) to host the programs on servers maintained by ITD.  Under this option, the Commission will incur costs for ITD to host the programs.  Mr. Giannotti is also talking to a potential vendor on one of the state blanket contracts who may be able to provide a customized LMS.  If the vendor can provide an LMS, Mr. Giannotti will explore affordable options of either installing the LMS on ITD servers or having the vendor host the programs.  Whichever option is ultimately selected, the Commission will incur costs.  The PACE option would not have involved any costs being incurred by the Commission, which was the main reason it was an attractive option.

Mr. Giannotti said he will report any progress to the Commission at the next meeting.

 

LEGAL DIVISION MATTERS

SFI Update

Legal Division Deputy Chief/SFI Lauren Duca reported that the SFI filing season has ended.  The deadline for elected public officials to file their 2011 SFI was May 29, 2012.  Formal notices of lateness have been sent to late filers along with follow up emails.  All elected public officials have either filed within the deadline or within the 10 day grace period after receiving a formal notice of lateness. 

Appointed public employees designated to file 2011 SFIs had a May 1, 2012 deadline.  Of the 34 employees who did not file within 10 days of receiving a formal notice of lateness, 32 are former employees and 2 are current employees.  The agencies of the 2 current employees were contacted, but those employees have yet to file.  Eight current or former employees filed after the 10 day grace period after receiving a formal notice of lateness, and they are now subject to civil penalties.

Ms. Duca said that going forward, the various SFI protocols will be reviewed along with the form and instructions and the electronic filing application functionality.  A list of application enhancements has been provided to the vendor, and plans are underway to contact all public agency liaisons to clarify their roles and to update the agency designation lists.

The Commission had no questions.

 

Proposed New and Amended Commission Regulations

General Counsel and Legal Division Chief Deirdre Roney presented redrafts of three of the proposed new and amended Commission regulations.  After discussion by the Commission, on the motion of Commissioner Murphy, seconded by Commissioner Trach, the Commission voted 5-0 to approve and adopt the following new or amended regulations:  930 CMR 3.02, 6.06, and 6.25, as presented to the Commission at its meeting on June 15, 2012; 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

General Counsel Deirdre Roney presented the following Legal Division metrics for May 2012. 

  • Written advice.  In May 2012, the Legal Division answered by letter or email  44 requests for advisory opinions.

        For comparison: 
       2008 monthly average (pre Ethics Reform):    31
       2010 monthly average (post Ethics Reform):  52
       April 2012 (last month):                                      28

  • Oral advice.  During this same period, Legal Division attorneys provided legal advice by telephone or on a walk-in basis to 463 persons.

        For comparison:   
       2008 monthly average (pre Ethics Reform):    280
       2010 monthly average (post Ethics Reform):  450
       April 2012 (last month):                                      417

  • Review of municipal letters.  The Legal Division reviewed 5 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
       April 2012 (last month):                                      8     

Backlog.  As of today, the Legal Division has 11 pending requests for written advice that are more than 30 days old, the oldest of which was received on January 12, 2012 (we are waiting for requested information to complete).  We have a total of 27 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.

 

Litigation Matter

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

The Commission had no questions.

 

EXECUTIVE SESSION

At 10:10 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 Commission Meeting of June 15, 2012.
  2. Minutes of the State Ethics Commission Meeting for May18, 2012 Public Session and Executive Session.
  1. Memorandum dated June 8, 2012 from David Giannotti to the Commission concerning Public Education and Communications Division activities for May 2012.
  1. Memorandum dated June 7, 2012 from Deirdre Roney to the Commission setting forth Legal Division matters for meeting.
  2. Memorandum dated June 7, 2012 from Deirdre Roney to the Commission concerning proposed amended regulations with draft regulations.
  1. Calendar of Hearing Dates and Pre-Hearing Conferences in pending Commission Adjudicatory Proceedings.


Respectfully submitted,   

                              

David Giannotti
Public Education and Communications
Division Chief