MINUTES OF THE STATE ETHICS COMMISSION MEETING
February 15, 2013
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 Paula Finley Mangum, William J. Trach and Regina L. Quinlan.  Chairman Swartwood stated that Commissioner Martin F. Murphy was recused from the Glodis matter, and Commissioner Murphy arrived later at 9:56 a.m.  

CLOSING ARGUMENTS

In Re Guy Glodis, Docket No. 12-0008:  Closing arguments in the case were conducted before the Commission.  The Respondent, Guy Glodis, was represented by Attorney Thomas R. Kiley.  Attorney Kiley began his closing argument at 9:00 a.m. and concluded at 9:34 a.m.  The Petitioner, State Ethics Commission, was represented by Enforcement Division Staff Counsel Candies Pruitt-Doncaster.  Ms. Pruitt-Doncaster began her closing argument at 9:34 a.m. and concluded at 9:56 a.m.

Chairman Swartwood stated that deliberations in this matter would begin in the executive session.

Commissioner Murphy arrived at the meeting at 9:56 a.m.

APPROVAL OF MEETING MINUTES

On the motion of Commissioner Trach, seconded by Commissioner Mangum, the Commission voted 5-0 to waive the reading and approve the public session and executive session minutes from the January 18, 2013 meeting.

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR’S REPORT

Budget Update

Executive Director Karen L. Nober reported that the Governor released House 1, his budget for FY14.  The amount appropriated for the Commission provides an additional $78,000 from FY 13, which includes funding for the deputy chief position in the Public Education division, which was initially funded through a supplemental budget.  It will also provide funding for about half of what is needed to fund collective bargaining increases. Ms. Nober said that she will testify at a legislative budget hearing in Worcester scheduled for next week.  She plans to ask the Legislature to support the Governor’s budget appropriation for the Commission.  Ms. Nober noted that during the last two budget cycles, she asked the Legislature to increase the amount appropriated in the Governor’s budget, which they did, and she would prefer not to have to do so this year.

Ms. Nober stated that the Legislature has passed the Governor’s bill to impose a 1 % budget cut on all state agencies in FY13.  The Commission is able to absorb this reduction because of the length of time the Public Education and Communications Division deputy chief position went unfilled. 

Personnel

Ms. Nober congratulated Public Education and Communications Division Deputy Chief Marisa Donelan for her recent recognition by the New England Newspaper and Press Association for columns she wrote for the Sentinel & Enterprise newspaper prior to joining the staff of the Commission.  Ms. Donelan was awarded a first prize.  The Commission extended its congratulations to Ms. Donelan.

Ms. Nober also said that Senior Intake Investigator Katherine Gallant would be presenting a report on complaint intake activities during the executive session.  Ms. Nober said this is a new report, which she plans to include in monthly Commission meetings to provide the Commission with a sense of the large volume of intake activity handled each month by the Enforcement Division.

Meetings with Legislators and the Governor’s Office

Ms. Nober stated that she and General Counsel Deirdre Roney are scheduled to conduct a training session on the conflict of interest law with the members of the House of Representatives twice in March.  Along with Chairman Swartwood and Commissioner Trach, they are also scheduled to meet with the members of the Senate on February 28. These meetings typically occur after an election cycle.  A separate meeting has also been scheduled to meet with the members of the House of Representatives to discuss the new advisory on job recommendations.  The House requested that the entire Commission attend the meetings to discuss the advisory.    Ms. Nober invited all Commissioners to attend the meeting with the House, and she stated she will look into whether there are any Open Meeting Law issues in having three or more Commissioners attend.  Ms. Nober said that she and Ms. Roney are also scheduled to meet with Gov. Patrick and his cabinet members on March 1, 2013, to provide a brief presentation on the conflict of interest law. 

Next Meeting

Ms. Nober stated that the March Commission meeting is scheduled for Friday, March 15, 2013, at 9:00 a.m.  In addition, a meeting of the Audit, Finance and Human Resources Committee, chaired by Commissioner Mangum, is scheduled for Friday, March 15, 2013, at noon, following the Commission meeting.    

PUBLIC EDUCATION DIVISION REPORT

Public Education and Communications Division Chief David Giannotti presented his report of Public Education Division activities for January 2013.  Mr. Giannotti stated that the FY 2012 Annual Report and the Rulings for CY 2011 and CY 2012 are being finalized for publication soon.  Commissioner Murphy asked how these reports are issued, and Mr. Giannotti explained that they are posted on the website, sent in hardcopy to the State House Library, and also made available in hardcopy at the Commission offices.  Ms. Nober added that the Annual Report is provided to the Governor and the Legislature, as requested by statute, and that we typically report to the constitutional officers as a courtesy.

Mr. Giannotti stated that there continue to be no major issues with the new online training programs.  He asked if the Commissioners had any feedback on their experiences with completing the new program.  The Commissioners provided positive comments about the new program.

LEGAL DIVISION MATTERS

General Counsel Deirdre Roney informed the Commission that there currently is no backlog of responses to opinion requests.  She expressed her appreciation for the efforts of Deputy Chief David Wilson, Deputy Chief/SFI Lauren Duca, and Staff Counsels Amy Nee and Norah Mallam to eliminate the backlog, in light of the heavy call volume usually associated with an election cycle.  The Commissioners expressed their appreciation to the Legal Division for eliminating the backlog.

Legal Division Metrics

Ms. Roney presented the following Legal Division metrics for January, 2013.

  • Written advice.  In January 2013, the Legal Division answered by letter or email 28 written requests for advisory opinions under G.L. c. 268A and c. 268B.

      For comparison:    2008 monthly average (pre Ethics Reform):        31

                                    2010 monthly average (post Ethics Reform):     52

                                    January 2012 (same month last year):               31

                             December 2012 (last month):                           30

  • Oral advice.  During January 2013, Legal Division attorneys provided legal advice by telephone or on a walk-in basis to 404 persons.

      For comparison:    2008 monthly average (pre Ethics Reform):     280

                                    2010 monthly average (post Ethics Reform):     450

                                    January 2012 (same month last year):               477

                                    December 2012 (last month):                           308

  • Review of municipal letters.  The Legal Division reviewed 7 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

                                    January 2012 (same month last year):                10

                                    December 2012 (last month):                            5

 

  • No Backlog.  As of today, the Legal Division has no pending requests for written advice more than 30 days old.  There are 15 pending requests for written advice.

The Commission had no questions.

New Informational Material for website

Ms. Roney stated that the Legal Division prepared an FAQ for Public Library Employees.  It is now available on the Commission’s website.

The Commission had no questions.

Legal Division Special Projects

Ms. Roney provided the Commission with a list of 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 Matters

Ms. Roney provided an update on the Commission’s pending litigation matter, Theresa Lord Piatelli v. SEC, 2012-P-0612.  She said that the matter was argued February 7, 2013 in the Appeals Court before Justices Cypher, Kantrowitz and Fecteau.  Amy Bressler Nee argued for the Commission.  Ms. Roney noted that Justice Kantrowitz in particular asked questions about section 17.

Ms. Roney stated that the Commission’s amicus brief in Leder v. Rigby, SJC-11224, was filed with the Supreme Judicial Court on October 12, 2012.  The case was argued on February 7, 2013, at 9:00 a.m. and was available to view on webcast.

The Commission had no questions.

ENFORCEMENT DIVISION

Enforcement Division Chief Stephen P. Fauteux presented his report of the division’s 2nd Quarter Metrics.  The Commission had no questions.

EXECUTIVE SESSION

At 10:12 a.m., on the motion of  Chairman Swartwood, seconded by Commissioner Quinlan, 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 investigatory matters, cases deferred, 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 Mangum                      yes
Commissioner Murphy                        yes
Commissioner Trach                           yes
Commissioner Quinlan                        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 February 15, 2013.
  2. Minutes of the State Ethics Commission Meeting for January 18, 2013, Public and Executive Session.
  3. Memorandum dated February 7, 2013 from David Giannotti to the Commission concerning Public Education and Communications Division activities for January 2013.
  4. Memorandum dated February 7, 2013 from General Counsel Deirdre Roney to the Commission setting forth Legal Division matters for the meeting.
  5. Public Library Employees FAQs on the Conflict of Interest Law
  6. Calendar of Hearing Dates and Pre-Hearing Conferences in pending Commission Adjudicatory Proceedings.
  7. Memorandum dated February 7, 2013 from Enforcement Division Chief Stephen P. Fauteux to the Commission concerning second quarter FY13 Enforcement Division Metrics.                                                                    

Respectfully submitted,

Marisa Donelan
Public Education and Communications
Division Deputy Chief