MINUTES OF THE STATE ETHICS COMMISSION MEETING
May 17, 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, Martin F. Murphy, William J. Trach and Regina L. Quinlan.

CLOSING ARGUMENTS

In Re Richard McClure, Docket No. 12-0011:  Closing arguments were rescheduled to June 28, 2013 at 9:00 a.m.

APPROVAL OF MEETING MINUTES

On the motion of Commissioner Trach, seconded by Commissioner Mangum, the Commission voted 4-0, with Commissioner Quinlan abstaining because she was not present at the meeting, to waive the reading and approve the public and executive session minutes for the April 19, 2013 meeting. 

Commissioners also reviewed the meeting minutes from the April 24, 2013 Audit, Finance and Human Resources Committee meeting.  No vote by the Commission was needed.

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR’S REPORT

Budget

Executive Director Karen L. Nober reported that the Senate released its FY 2014 budget recommendation.  The budget for the Commission matched the House budget recommendation for the Commission for FY 2014, which is the same amount included in the Governor’s budget recommendation.  Ms. Nober said that the Commission had requested that the Legislature support the Governor’s budget recommendation.  The deadline for budget amendments is 3 p.m. today, and Ms. Nober said if nothing changes, the Commission’s FY 2014 budget will not go to a legislative conference committee.  Ms. Nober said the amount budgeted does not fully cover the amount of collective bargaining increases, and that there will be no FY 2014 manager pay increases. She said that the budget will be tight for FY 2014, but that she is pleased with it.

Performance Evaluations

Ms. Nober stated that it is time for annual performance evaluations and asked whether the Commission would like to follow the same process for her own evaluation as it has in the past.  She said that she will provide a self-evaluation.  The Commission agreed by consensus to follow the process.

Advisory 13-1: Making and Receiving Job Recommendations for Employment

Ms. Nober reported that she, along with General Counsel Deirdre Roney and Chairman Swartwood, met with Representative Garrett Bradley and House Counsel James Kennedy on May 1, 2013 to discuss the advisory on job recommendations.  She said the meeting was productive and Rep. Bradley raised some concerns regarding the advisory.  Ms. Nober said she is awaiting written information from the House, which Rep. Bradley and Mr. Kennedy indicated they would like to provide.  Ms. Nober said the overall tone of the meeting was positive and Chairman Swartwood agreed.  Commissioner Quinlan asked whether the U.S. Attorney’s criminal case related to the Probation Department would have any impact on the advisory, and Ms. Nober said she did not think it would have any effect on the Commission’s advice.

Office Renovations

Ms. Nober stated that renovations to part of the office have been completed, resulting in a new office for Information Technology Specialist Tony Webb.  Public Education & Communications Division Deputy Chief Marisa Donelan has moved into the office formerly used by Mr. Webb, and a new workspace was created for Public Education & Communications Division Administrative Assistant Carolyn Teehan, which brings her closer to the staff she supports.  As part of the renovations, sprinkler heads were installed to make the office compliant with the fire code.  Ms. Nober thanked Chief Financial Officer Michael Memmolo for his management of this project, including working nights and weekends to oversee the construction and ensure minimal disruption to the Commission’s operations.

SFI Consultant

Ms. Nober announced that a contract has been finalized to engage the services of a consultant to evaluate the SFI filing application used by the Commission and Statements of Financial Information filers.  The contract will be funded with monies that rolled over from FY 2012.  Ms. Nober said the consultant is expected to begin working next week and will make recommendations for an updated and more user-friendly SFI filing system.  Ms. Nober said that once the work is complete, it will include an estimate for the cost of replacing the system with a newly designed system, which will be very helpful when the Commission applies for bond money to pay for the redesign.  She thanked Mr. Memmolo for his work overseeing the procurement process and Ms. Roney for preparing the contract documents.  Ms. Nober said that SFI Analyst Robert Milt will serve as the project manager, and Legal Division Deputy Chief/SFI Lauren Duca and Mr. Webb will provide input to the consultant. 

Changes to Compensatory Time Policy

Commissioner Mangum said that an Audit, Finance and Human Resources Committee meeting was held on April 24, 2013, during which the Commission’s compensatory time policy and internal controls plan were reviewed.  Ms. Nober said that the existing policy is outdated and should be revised to explicitly link the earning of comp time to a business need to work extra hours.  The current policy does not reflect the purpose of compensatory time, which, because comp time is awarded in lieu of overtime, is to meet the agency’s needs in situations where overtime work would be necessary. 

Following presentation by Ms. Nober, on the motion of Commissioner Mangum, seconded by Commissioner Trach, the Commission voted 5-0 to approve a new compensatory time policy, effective July 1, 2013.   

End-of-Summer Event

Ms. Nober thanked Chairman Swartwood for his offer to host an outing at his house on Cape Cod.  The outing was scheduled for September 7.  Ms. Nober noted that all Commissioners and staff were invited, as well as spouses and children.

Next Meeting

Ms. Nober stated that the next Commission meeting is scheduled for Friday, June 28, 2013 at 9:00 a.m.  She stated that closing arguments in both the McClure and the Jacques cases will take place at the beginning of the meeting.

PUBLIC EDUCATION DIVISION MATTERS

Ms. Donelan presented a report of Public Education Division activities for April 2013, prepared by Division Chief David Giannotti, since Mr. Giannotti was not present at the meeting.  The report noted that the volume of telephone calls and emails to the division remained high as people completed the conflict of interest law online training programs.  

The Commission had no questions.

SFI MATTERS

Ms. Duca presented the CY 2012 SFI filing update to the Commission, and thanked the Commissioners for filing their SFIs in a timely manner.  Ms. Duca reported that 15 percent of filers missed the May 1, 2013 filing deadline, and were sent late notices.  Of those notified, 16 failed to file by the end of the grace period.  Ms. Duca explained that she is in the process of contacting the 22 current employees who are late in filing, and she is using the revised notification policy to alert former employees about their need to file.  The deadline for elected officials to file is May 28, 2013.

LEGAL DIVISION MATTERS

Legal Division Metrics

Ms. Roney presented the following Legal Division metrics for April 2013.

  • Written advice.  In April 2013, the Legal Division answered by letter or email 45 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
                              April 2012 (same month last year):                 31
                              March 2013 (previous month):                        51

  • Oral advice.  During this same period, Legal Division attorneys provided legal advice by telephone or on a walk-in basis to 701 persons.  Lauren Duca handled 317 of these calls; this impressive number reflects calls seeking legal advice related to Statements of Financial Interests.  Non-legal SFI calls are reported below.

For comparison:    2008 monthly average (pre Ethics Reform):   280
                              2010 monthly average (post Ethics Reform):  450
                              April 2012 (same month last year):                 430
                              March 2013 (previous month):                        600

  • Review of municipal letters.  We reviewed 4 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 (same month last year):                 8
                              March 2013 (previous month):                        8

  • Backlog.  As of today, there are 9 pending requests for written advice more than 30 days old:  one each from January and February 2013, six from March 2013, and one from April 2013.  There were 24 pending requests for written advice.
  • SFI calls.  504 SFI calls not involving legal advice during April 2013 were handled by Lauren Duca, Rob Milt, Tony Webb, and Carolyn Teehan.

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.  Chairman Swartwood made a correction to the calendar to reflect that the Commission’s next meeting is June 28, not June 21, 2013.

In Re Elizabeth Gorski, Docket No. 13-0005:  Ms. Roney requested that the Chairman assign a hearing officer for this adjudicatory matter.  Chairman Swartwood stated that he would serve as the hearing officer. 

Litigation Matters

Theresa Lord Piatelli v. SEC, 2012-P-0612:  Ms. Roney reported that the matter was argued in the Appeals Court on February 7, 2013.  The matter remains under advisement.  

Leder v. Rigby, SJC-11224:  The Commission submitted an amicus brief in the matter.  The case was argued on February 7, 2013, and remains under advisement.

ENFORCEMENT DIVISION MATTERS

Intake Report

Enforcement Division Senior Intake Investigator Katherine Gallant presented a report on Enforcement Division matters in Intake.  Ms. Gallant noted there was an uptick in the number of complaints received in April, likely related to municipal elections and Town Meetings, and said the staff followed up on more complaints. 

EXECUTIVE SESSION

At 9:41 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, disposition agreements, closing memoranda, 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 May 17, 2013.
  2. Minutes of the State Ethics Commission Meeting for the April 19, 2013 Public Session and Executive Session.
  3. Minutes of the State Ethics Commission’s Audit, Finance and Human Resources Committee Meeting for April 24, 2013.
  1. Memorandum dated May 9, 2013 from Karen L. Nober to the Commission concerning proposed revisions to the Commission’s Compensatory Time Policy.
  1. Memorandum dated May 3, 2013 from David Giannotti to the Commission concerning Public Education and Communications Division activities for April 2013.
  1. Memorandum dated May 10, 2013 from Deirdre Roney to the Commission setting forth Legal Division matters for meeting.
  2. Calendar of Hearing Dates and Pre-Hearing Conferences in pending Commission Adjudicatory Proceedings.

Respectfully submitted,                     

                          

Marisa Donelan
Public Education and Communications
Division Deputy Chief