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June 15, 2017 State Ethics Commission Meeting Minutes- Public Session

9:00 a.m.

Address

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

Contact for June 15, 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 June 15, 2017 State Ethics Commission Meeting Minutes- Public Session

PUBLIC SESSION


MEETING CONVENED

Chairman Barbara A. Dortch-Okara called the meeting to order at 9:07 a.m.  Also in attendance were Vice-Chairman Regina L. Quinlan, Commissioner David A. Mills, Commissioner Thomas J. Sartory, and Commissioner Maria J. Krokidas.

CLOSING ARGUMENT

In re Hansen, Docket No. 16-0001: Both parties made closing arguments.  The Commission took the matter under advisement.

APPROVAL OF MEETING MINUTES

On the motion of Commissioner Krokidas, seconded by Vice-Chairman Quinlan, the Commission voted 4-0 to waive the reading and approve the minutes of the May 18, 2017 public and executive sessions.  Commissioner Mills abstained.

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR’S REPORT

Personnel

Executive Director David A. Wilson reported that a candidate has been selected for the Assistant General Counsel position.  The new Assistant General Counsel will start on June 26, 2017.

Mr. Wilson reported that interviews for the Public Education Officer position will begin in July.   

Ethics Task Force

Mr. Wilson reported that the final meeting of the Task Force on Integrity in State and Local Government took place on June 14, 2017.  He noted that the Commission had a good working relationship with the Task Force.  Mr. Wilson commended General Counsel Deirdre Roney for her extraordinary work in connection with the Task Force.  The Commissioners thanked Ms. Roney and Mr. Wilson for their work with the Task Force.

Office Renovations

Mr. Wilson reported that the office renovation work began on June 1.  The work has included: construction of a small conference room; installation of HVAC diffusers, ductwork and air returns; electrical work; installation of new telephone and data outlets; painting; installation of new baseboards; and removal and replacement of reflective window film.  Additional work has been scheduled including: installation of a small kitchenette; replacement of broken window blinds; cleaning, stripping and resealing the tile floors; carpet cleaning; and replacing all light fixtures.

Ethos Replacement Planning

Mr. Wilson reported that staff spent two days in early June working with consultant BerryDunn on the Ethos replacement planning project.  Staff provided input regarding the features needed in the new case management system.  BerryDunn is assisting the Commission with drafting a Request for Proposals for the development of a new case management system and will provide the Commission with an estimate of the cost of a new case management system.  BerryDunn is scheduled to complete its work by the end of June.

Staff Training

Mr. Wilson reported that all staff will participate in mandatory training on July 18 and 21 provided by the Human Resources Division (“HRD”).  The training will cover diversity, sexual harassment prevention, workplace violence prevention, and domestic violence in the workplace.  Mr. Wilson noted that although HRD typically charges agencies to provide these trainings, HRD has generously offered to provide them to the Commission free of charge because Public Education and Communications Division Chief David Giannotti has provided HRD with ethics training assistance.

Online Training Programs Accessibility Project

Mr. Wilson reported that the Commission has hired SSB Bart Group to remediate the Commission’s online ethics training programs to make them fully accessible to visually impaired persons using certain reading devices. 

Election of Ombudsman

Mr. Wilson reported that the staff will hold an election for the Commission Ombudsman position during the last week of June.

Next Commission Meeting

After discussion, the Commission scheduled its next Commission meeting for July 24, 2017 at 10:00 a.m.

PUBLIC EDUCATION DIVISION REPORT

Mr. Giannotti reported that he has completed over seventy (70) seminars during FY 2017. 

Mr. Giannotti reported that SSB Bart Group has completed remediating the Commission’s online ethics training program for state and county employees so it will be accessible to visually impaired individuals using JAWS software.  SSB Bart Group has provided the Commission with several sample pages of the remediated training program.  The Commission for the Blind and the Office for Disability have started to test these sample pages using JAWS.

LEGAL DIVISION MATTERS

Task Force on Integrity in State and Local Government

Ms. Roney stated that the Task Force report contains a list of all of the recommendations received by the Task Force.  The report indicates that it would be beneficial to provide the Commission with regulatory authority in some form.  Ms. Roney stated that the Task Force report will now go to various committees.  Ms. Roney will stay in contact with the committee chairs so that she will be aware if any legislation is proposed.  Chairman Dortch-Okara inquired whether there is anything the Commission may do to proactively participate in the process.  Ms. Roney responded that she will advise the Chairs of the committees that the Commission is interested in participating in the process and that we are available to draft legislation if desired.

SFI Status Report

Legal Division Deputy Chief/SFI Lauren Duca reported that the CY 2016 SFI filing season has been completed.   Ms. Duca noted that the filing deadline for elected officials was May 30, 2017.  Individuals who missed the deadline have received formal notices of lateness.

Ms. Duca reported that she is continuing to work with the vendor for the new online SFI system on several issues.  All of this work must be completed by June 30, 2017, when the capital bond funding will expire.  Ms. Duca anticipates that the public inspection module of the new SFI system will open next week.   

Mr. Wilson commended the online SFI project team for their work on the online SFI system project.  In addition to Ms. Duca, the team included Senior Assistant General Counsel Pauline Nguyen, Financial Disclosure Administrator and Analyst/SFI Robert Milt, Information Technology Specialist Tony Webb, and Administrative Assistant Theresa Meli Omodei.  Mr. Wilson noted that the SFI project team did an extraordinary amount of work on the project, and as a result of this work, an excellent online SFI system has been created.

Legal Division Metrics for May 2017

Ms. Roney presented the following Legal Division metrics for May 2017. 

  • Written advice.  The Legal Division answered by letter or email 75 written requests for advisory opinions under G.L. c. 268A and c. 268B.

            For comparison:  May 2016 (same month last year):       56
                                        April 2017 (previous month):                 50

  • Oral advice.  The Legal Division attorneys provided advice by telephone or on a walk-in basis in response to 684 requests for advice from state, county and municipal officials.

            For comparison:  May 2016 (same month last year):       623
                                        April 2017 (previous month):                 519

  • Review of municipal letters.  Division staff reviewed 4 letters issued by city solicitors/town counsel pursuant to G.L. c. 268A, § 22 and 930 CMR 1.03.

            For comparison:  May 2016 (same month last year):       2
                                        April 2017 (previous month):                 0

  • Backlog.  As of today, the Division has 4 pending requests for written advice that are more than 30 days old.  There are a total of 17 pending requests for written advice.

Litigation Matter

McGovern v. State Ethics Commission, Hampden Superior Court, Civil Action No. 1679CV00082:  Ms. Roney reported that Edward McGovern seeks judicial review pursuant to G.L. c. 30A of the Commission’s finding of a violation against him.  McGovern served a Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings on May 30, 2017.

ENFORCEMENT DIVISION MATTERS

Investigations Unit Metrics Report

Investigations Director Paul Murray presented the monthly report of Investigations for Unit activities for May 2017.   

EXECUTIVE SESSION

At 10:22 a.m., on the motion of Chairman Dortch-Okara, seconded by Vice-Chairman 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 § 18, and G.L. c. 268B, §§ 3 and 4.  These matters will include investigatory matters, cases deferred, preliminary inquiry recommendations, summons authorization requests, a preliminary inquiry report, advisory opinions and deliberations.

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

Chairman Dortch-Okara stated that the Commission would not reconvene in public session following the executive session.

LIST OF DOCUMENTS USED AT THIS MEETING

  1. Agenda for the Commission Meeting of June 15, 2017.
  2. Minutes of the State Ethics Commission Meeting for the May 18, 2017 Public and Executive Sessions.
  3. Memorandum dated June 8, 2017 from David Giannotti to the Commission concerning Public Education and Communications Division report for the meeting.
  4. Memorandum dated June 8, 2017 from General Counsel Deirdre Roney to the Commission setting forth Legal Division matters for the meeting.
  5. Calendar of Hearing Dates in pending Commission Adjudicatory Proceedings.
  6. Report of Enforcement Division Investigations Unit metrics.
  7. Task Force on Integrity in State and Local Government Report.

Respectfully submitted,

Norah K. Mallam
Staff Attorney

Additional Resources for June 15, 2017 State Ethics Commission Meeting Minutes- Public Session

Contact for June 15, 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

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