offered by

February 16, 2017 State Ethics Commission Meeting Minutes- Public Session

10:00 a.m.

Address

1 Ashburton Place, 6th floor, Room 619, Boston, MA 02108

Contact for February 16, 2017 State Ethics Commission Meeting Minutes- Public Session

State Ethics Commission

Address

One Ashburton Place, Room 619, Boston, MA 02476

Fax

Legal Division fax number (617) 723-5851
Enforcement Division fax number (617) 723-4086

Overview of February 16, 2017 State Ethics Commission Meeting Minutes- Public Session

PUBLIC SESSION


MEETING CONVENED

Chairman Barbara Dortch-Okara called the meeting to order at 10:02 a.m.  Also in attendance were Commissioner David A. Mills, Commissioner Thomas J. Sartory, and Commissioner Maria J. Krokidas (participating remotely).  Commissioner Quinlan was not present at the commencement of the meeting but joined it in progress, as noted below.

REMOTE PARTICIPATION

Chairman Dortch-Okara announced that the Commission previously voted to authorize remote participation on December 16, 2011; that Commissioner Krokidas will participate remotely in the entire meeting; that Vice-Chairman Quinlan will join the meeting via remote participation at a later time, and that the reason for Commissioners Quinlan and Krokidas’s remote participation is geographic distance, which is a permissible basis under 940 CMR 29.10(5).

Chairman Dortch-Okara noted that all votes taken at this meeting would be by roll call.

APPROVAL OF MEETING MINUTES

On the motion of Commissioner Mills seconded by Commissioner Sartory, the Commission voted 4-0 to waive the reading and approve the minutes of the January 19, 24, and 25, 2017 public and executive sessions.

VOTE:  Chairman Dortch-Okara              yes 
               Commissioner Mills                   yes 
               Commissioner Sartory               yes 
               Commissioner Krokidas             yes 

On the motion of Chairman Dortch-Okara, seconded by Commissioner Sartory, the Commission voted 4-0 to waive the reading and approve the public session minutes of the January 12, 2017 Legal Committee Meeting.

VOTE:  Chairman Dortch-Okara              yes 
               Commissioner Mills                   yes 
               Commissioner Sartory               yes 
               Commissioner Krokidas             yes 

ACTING EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR’S REPORT

Personnel

Acting Executive Director David A. Wilson welcomed new Assistant Enforcement Counsel Tracy Morong who started in January.  Mr. Wilson noted that with the addition of Ms. Morong, the Commission now has twenty employees.    

Mr. Wilson reported that he has posted positions for an Investigator and a part-time Receptionist.  Mr. Wilson stated that he and Mr. Giannotti are in the process of finalizing a job description for a position in the Public Education and Communication’s Division, which he anticipates will be posted soon. 

Ethics Task Force

Mr. Wilson reported that he and General Counsel Deirdre Roney appeared before the Task Force on Integrity in State and Local Government (“Task Force”) on February 1 and 15.  The Task Force has reviewed the sections of the conflict law and regulations dealing with gifts to public employees, private compensation, agency, former public employees, partners of public employees and interests in public contracts and multiple positions.  The Task Force is next scheduled to meet on Tuesday, February 28.  The Task Force is scheduled to complete its hearings by March 15.  Mr. Wilson noted that he and Ms. Roney have developed a good working relationship with the Task Force and that the Task Force has been open to input from the Commission.  Mr. Wilson commended Ms. Roney for the exceptional quality of her work related to the Task Force.  Mr. Wilson also thanked Senior Assistant General Counsel Pauline Nguyen for her assistance with Task Force matters.

Office Improvements

Mr. Wilson thanked Chief Financial Officer/Director of Budget & Administration Alice Wu, Administrative Assistant Theresa Omodei, and Information Technology Specialist Tony Webb for their assistance in organizing and cleaning the office.

Mr. Wilson reported that he has continued to meet with the Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance (“DCAMM”) regarding possible improvements to the Commission’s offices.  He noted that the Commission has funds available for office improvements due to long-term vacancies in a number of staff positions.  Mr. Wilson reported that he intends to use this funding to construct a small conference room, replace the office lighting (which will also involve HVAC improvements) and upgrade the office electrical service. 

Commissioner Krokidas inquired whether additional office improvements may be made during the next fiscal year.  Mr. Wilson stated that it is too soon to know whether funds will be available for additional office renovation projects during the next fiscal year; however, traditionally there have not been funds available in the budget for office renovations.

Staff Training

Mr. Wilson reported that he and Ms. Wu have been in touch with the Human Resources Division (“HRD”) to schedule diversity, harassment, sexual harassment, workplace violence and domestic violence training for staff.  Generally HRD charges agencies for these trainings; however, because Public Education and Communications Division Chief David Giannotti recently assisted HRD with several projects, HRD offered to waive the training charges.  

Budget

Financial Disclosure Administrator and Analyst/SFI Robert Milt reported that the Governor’s FY 2018 budget has been released.  The Governor’s budget recommends $2,115,000 for the Commission, which is $38,000 less than the amount the Commission requested from Administration and Finance (“A&F”).  Mr. Milt noted that the House and Senate Ways and Means Committees have not yet set their budget hearing dates, and he is optimistic that the Commission’s budget will ultimately be increased.  

MassIT and Ethos

Mr. Wilson reported that the Commission’s case management system, Ethos, is in need of replacement.  Mr. Wilson noted that $40,000 has been set aside in the budget to hire a consultant to assist in planning the replacement of Ethos.  Mr. Wilson reported that the Commission has submitted an application to MassIT for bond funding for FY 2018 to fund the replacement of Ethos.  Mr. Wilson thanked Ms. Wu, Mr. Milt, Mr. Giannotti, and Mr. Webb for their assistance in completing the bond funding application.   

Next Commission Meeting

Mr. Wilson reported that the next Commission meeting is scheduled for March 16, 2017 at 9:00 a.m. 

PUBLIC EDUCATION DIVISION REPORT

Mr. Giannotti presented the Public Education and Communication Division’s report.  Mr. Giannotti reported that he has developed an Ethics training course for Managers as part of HRD’s manager training program.  Mr. Giannotti also reported that a prior problem with the online educational tracking system, PACE, which HRD uses to track executive branch employees’ completion of the online ethics training program, has been resolved.

LEGAL DIVISION MATTERS

SFI Status Report

Legal Division Deputy Chief/SFI Lauren Duca reported that the public inspection module for the online SFI system has been completed and is currently being tested.  Ms. Duca reported that the SFI filing system for calendar year 2016 will open on March 6, 2017. 

Mr. Wilson noted that the completion of the online SFI filing system has been a monumental task, and he thanked Ms. Duca, Mr. Milt, Mr. Webb, and Ms. Nguyen for their extraordinary work on this project.    

Legal Division Metrics for January 2017

Ms. Duca presented the following Legal Division metrics for January 2017.  The Commission had no questions.

  • Written advice.  The Legal Division answered by letter or email 29 written requests for advisory opinions under G.L. c. 268A and c. 268B.

For comparison:  January 2016 (same month last year):        36
                            December 2016 (previous month):              18

  • Oral advice.  The Legal Division attorneys provided advice by telephone or on a walk-in basis in response to 344 requests for advice from state, county and municipal officials.

For comparison:  January 2016 (same month last year):        392
                            December 2016 (previous month):              293

  • Review of municipal letters.  Division staff reviewed 5 letter issued by city solicitors/town counsel pursuant to G.L. c. 268A, § 22 and 930 CMR 1.03.

For comparison:  January 2016 (same month last year):        2
                            December 2016 (previous month):              1

  • Backlog.  As of today, the Division has 13 pending requests for written advice that are more than 30 days old.  There are a total of 23 pending requests for written advice.

Adjudicatory Matters

Ms. Duca presented the calendar of hearing dates in pending Commission adjudicatory proceedings.  The Commission had no questions.

Litigation Matters

Ms. Duca noted regarding McGovern v. State Ethics Commission, Hampden Superior Court Civil Action No. 1679CV00082:  Edward McGovern seeks judicial review pursuant to G.L. c. 30A of the Commission’s finding of violation against him.  McGovern recently moved to admit additional evidence to the Administrative Record.  On February 3, we served an Opposition to McGovern’s Motion for Leave to Admit Additional Evidence. 

ENFORCEMENT DIVISION MATTERS

Investigations Unit Metrics Report

Investigations Director Paul Murray presented the monthly report of Investigations for Unit activities for January 2017.  Mr. Murray noted that an error occurred several months ago regarding the cumulative backlog for complaints, which he is in the process of correcting.

EXECUTIVE SESSION

At 11:12 a.m., on the motion of Chairman Dortch-Okara seconded by Commissioner Sartory, the Commission voted 4-0 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.  These matters will include investigatory matters, cases deferred, preliminary inquiry recommendations, and summons authorization requests and a matter subject to the provisions of G.L. c. 30A, § 21, subparagraph (a)(1), G.L. c. 4, § 7, Clause Twenty-Sixth, exemption (c), and G.L. c. 66, § 10.

VOTE:  Chairman Dortch-Okara        yes      
              Commissioner Mills              yes      
              Commissioner Sartory         yes      
              Commissioner Krokidas       yes       

Chairman Dortch-Okara stated that the Commission will reconvene in public session following the executive session.        

PUBLIC SESSION

At 1:13 p.m., the Commission resumed the meeting in public session.  Present were Chairman Dortch-Okara, Vice-Chairman Quinlan, Commissioner Mills, Commissioner Sartory and Commission Krokidas (participating remotely).

VOTE:  Chairman Dortch-Okara        yes      
              Vice-Chairman Quinlan         yes      
              Commissioner Mills               yes      
              Commissioner Sartory          yes      
              Commissioner Krokidas        yes      

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR HIRING

Commissioner Sartory commended the hiring committee, which included Ms. Duca, Ms. Pruitt-Doncaster and Ms. Roney, for their hard work and for narrowing the field of candidates.  Commissioner Sartory thanked staff for meeting with the hiring committee and for their valuable input.  Vice-Chairman Quinlan noted that the Commission has two exceptional candidates, William McAvoy and David Wilson, and the other individuals who she had interviewed were very respectable.  Chairman Dortch-Okara thanked Commissioners Quinlan and Sartory and the Commission staff for their participation in the hiring process. 

Chairman Dortch-Okara expressed her appreciation for Mr. Wilson’s service as Acting Executive Director.  She noted that he has been a superb long-term employee and that he has risen to many challenges while serving as Acting Executive Director.  Chairman Dortch-Okara stated that the Commission has two very good candidates, but in her opinion, Mr. Wilson demonstrated that he is the right leader for the Commission at this time. 

Vice-Chairman Quinlan stated that Mr. Wilson is a true professional and she respected how he handled difficult tasks while serving as Acting Executive Director.  She agreed with Chairman Dortch-Okara that the Commission has two excellent candidates for the Executive Director position, but noted that she too believes Mr. Wilson is the right person for this position.

Commissioner Sartory noted that, in his opinion, Mr. Wilson and Mr. McAvoy are equally capable and competent, but Mr. Wilson’s demonstrated thirty year track record with the agency tipped the scale for him in favor of Mr. Wilson.       

Commissioner Mills stated that he was very impressed by Mr. McAvoy, but that he too supports Mr. Wilson for this position.  Commissioner Mills also noted that he was impressed by the strong leadership skills Mr. Wilson showed while serving as Acting Executive Director.

Commissioner Krokidas added her support for Mr. Wilson.  She stated that she was very impressed with the staff’s assessment and appreciation of Mr. Wilson’s skills. 

On the motion of Commissioner Sartory, seconded by Chairman Dortch-Okara, the Commission voted 5-0 to offer Mr. Wilson the opportunity to serve as the full-time Executive Director.

VOTE:  Chairman Dortch-Okara        yes      
              Vice-Chairman Quinlan         yes      
              Commissioner Mills               yes      
              Commissioner Sartory          yes      
              Commissioner Krokidas        yes      

Chairman Dortch-Okara asked Ms. Duca to draft a letter to Mr. McAvoy for her signature, acknowledging that the Commission appreciated his application.  The Commissioners expressed their gratitude for Mr. McAvoy’s application and noted that he was an exceptional candidate.  The Commissioners agreed that a letter conveying this information should be sent to Mr. McAvoy.

[At 1:29 p.m. Mr. Wilson entered the meeting room.] 

Chairman Dortch-Okara offered the full-time position of Executive Director to Mr. Wilson.  Chairman Dortch-Okara noted that compensation would need to be discussed with the Audit, Finance & Human Resources Committee (“HR Committee”).  Mr. Wilson stated that he gratefully and humbly accepted the position and he thanked the Commissioners for providing him with this opportunity.  The HR Committee agreed to meet to discuss Mr. Wilson’s compensation on either February 21 or on February 22 at 10:00 a.m., depending on Ms. Roney’s availability.

ADJOURN MEETING

At 1:35 p.m., on the motion of Commissioner Mills, seconded by Chairman Dortch-Okara the Commission voted 5-0 to adjourn.

VOTE:  Chairman Dortch-Okara        yes      
              Vice-Chairman Quinlan         yes      
              Commissioner Mills               yes  
              Commissioner Sartory          yes      
              Commissioner Krokidas        yes     

LIST OF DOCUMENTS USED AT THIS MEETING

  1. Agenda for the Commission Meeting of February 16, 2017.
  2. Minutes of the State Ethics Legal Committee Meeting for the January 12, 2017 Public Session.
  3. Minutes of the State Ethics Commission Meeting for the January 19, 2017 Public and Executive Sessions.
  4. Minutes of the State Ethics Commission Meeting for the January 24, 2017 Public Session.
  5. Minutes of the State Ethics Commission Meeting for the January 25, 2017 Public Session.
  6. Memorandum dated February 10, 2017 from David Giannotti to the Commission concerning Public Education and Communications Division report for the meeting.
  7. Memorandum dated February 10, 2017 from General Counsel Deirdre Roney to the Commission setting forth Legal Division matters for the meeting.
  8. Calendar of Hearing Dates in pending Commission Adjudicatory Proceedings.
  9. Report of Enforcement Division Investigations Unit metrics.
  10. Estimate of conference room construction cost and design plan.

Respectfully submitted,
 

Norah K. Mallam
Staff Attorney

Additional Resources for February 16, 2017 State Ethics Commission Meeting Minutes- Public Session

Contact for February 16, 2017 State Ethics Commission Meeting Minutes- Public Session

Address

One Ashburton Place, Room 619, Boston, MA 02476

Fax

Legal Division fax number (617) 723-5851
Enforcement Division fax number (617) 723-4086

Feedback

Did you find what you were looking for on this webpage? * required
We use your feedback to help us improve this site but we are not able to respond directly. Please do not include personal or contact information. If you need a response, please locate the contact information elsewhere on this page or in the footer.
We use your feedback to help us improve this site but we are not able to respond directly. Please do not include personal or contact information. If you need a response, please locate the contact information elsewhere on this page or in the footer.

If you need to report child abuse, any other kind of abuse, or need urgent assistance, please click here.

Feedback