offered by

March 16, 2017 State Ethics Commission Meeting- Public Session

9:00 a.m.

Address

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

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

PUBLIC SESSION

MEETING CONVENED

Chairman Barbara A. Dortch-Okara called the meeting to order at 9:12 a.m.  Also in attendance were Vice-Chairman Regina L. Quinlan, Commissioner David A. Mills (participating remotely), Commissioner Thomas J. Sartory, and Commissioner Maria J. Krokidas (participating remotely). 

REMOTE PARTICIPATION

Chairman Dortch-Okara announced that the Commission previously voted to authorize remote participation on December 16, 2011; that Commissioners Mills and Krokidas will participate remotely; and that the reason for Commissioners Mills 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.

Commissioners Mills and Krokidas confirmed that there were no individuals present who could hear their telephone conversations.  

The State House News Service stated that it was recording the meeting.

APPROVAL OF MEETING MINUTES

On the motion of Vice-Chairman Quinlan, seconded by Commissioner Sartory, the Commission voted 5-0 to waive the reading and approve the minutes of the February 16, 2017 public and executive sessions.  Vice-Chairman Quinlan stated that she was not present for the entire February 16, 2017 meeting, and therefore she was voting to approve the minutes for the portion of the meeting she attended.

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

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR'S REPORT

Personnel

Executive Director David A. Wilson reported that the Commission received 200 applications for the Investigator position and ten candidates will be interviewed. 

Mr. Wilson reported that approximately 200 applications were received for the part-time Receptionist position.  The hiring committee will determine which candidates to interview shortly. 

Mr. Wilson noted that he anticipates that the Investigator and Receptionist positions will be filled in April. 

Mr. Wilson reported that the Public Information Officer and Legal Division Attorney positions have been posted and applications are now being received.  Mr. Wilson anticipates these positions will be filled by the end of May.

Mr. Wilson thanked Senior Assistant Counsel Pauline Nguyen for her assistance in the Enforcement Division.  He noted that the Enforcement Division is now fully staffed with attorneys and Ms. Nguyen has returned to her duties in the Legal Division.

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 28.  The Task Force asked the Commission to provide a list of potential statutory changes that the Commission recommends making to the laws.  The Task Force also asked the Commission to provide a list of regulations the Commission would create if provided with full regulatory authority.  The Task Force also inquired as to the amount of time the Commission would need to issue regulations. 

The Task Force invited the Commission to appear at its next meeting on March 21.  Mr. Wilson recommended that the Commissioners decline this invitation.  Ms. Roney noted that, to comply with the Open Meeting Law, the meeting would need to be publicly posted if a quorum of Commissioners are present at the Task Force meeting.  The Commissioners discussed the implications of appearing as a quorum versus one or two individual Commissioners appearing at the Task Force meeting.  Following a discussion, the Commissioners decided that Chairman Dortch-Okara and Vice-Chairman Quinlan would attend the March 21 Task Force meeting.

Office Improvements

Mr. Wilson reported that the Commission has entered into an interagency service agreement (ISA) with the Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance (DCAMM).  Pursuant to the ISA, DCAMM will construct a small conference room and complete several other office improvement projects.  DCAMM will complete this work by June 16, 2017 for a total cost of $125,000.

Budget

Mr. Wilson thanked Chief Financial Officer Alice Wu and Financial Disclosure Administrator and Analyst/SFI Robert Milt for their assistance in preparing the FY 2018 budget.  A budget hearing will be held at Worcester State University on March 20, 2017. 

Ethos Replacement

Mr. Wilson reported that a Request for Quotation (RFQ) to select a vendor to replace the Commission’s current case management system, Ethos, has been prepared.  Mr. Wilson thanked Ms. Wu, Mr. Milt, Ms. Nguyen, Public Education and Communication Division Chief David Giannotti, Information Technology Specialist Tony Webb, and Enforcement Division Chief Monica Brookman for putting together the RFQ.  

Next Commission Meeting

Mr. Wilson reported that the next Commission meeting is scheduled for April 20, 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 recently conducted conflict of interest law trainings for new trial court employees as well as for the City of Revere Mayor and staff.  Mr. Giannotti has been invited to conduct a series of seminars for the Senate staff.  Mr. Giannotti reported that he received requests from several agencies to provide the online ethics training in paper format.  He noted that he declined these requests for several reasons, which are outlined in his memorandum to the Commission.

LEGAL DIVISION MATTERS

Task Force on Integrity in State and Local Government

Ms. Roney reported that the Task Force asked the Commission to provide it with: (1) a list of changes the Commission would like to see made to the law; and (2) a list of regulations the Commission would create if it is provided with full regulatory authority.  Ms. Roney noted that in January 2017 the Commission reached a consensus with respect to a list of proposed changes it would like made to the law.  Ms. Roney stated that providing the Task Force with a list of proposed regulations would require a great deal of thought, discussion and work. 

Following a discussion, on the motion of Chairman Dortch-Okara, seconded by Commissioner Sartory, the Commission voted to share with the Task Force a list of proposed amendments to G.L. c. 268A and G.L. c. 268B and a list of issues the Commission would address if it is granted full regulatory authority. 

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

SFI Status Report

Legal Division Deputy Chief/SFI Lauren Duca reported that testing of the public inspection module for the online SFI system has been completed.  Ms. Duca noted that several bugs were found during the testing phase and the vendor is now working to fix these bugs.  Ms. Duca anticipates that the public inspection module will be open by the end of March and that the CY 2018 SFI filing system will open on March 21. 

Ms. Roney noted that the public inspection module, which will enable the public to access SFI’s online, is a great improvement in the service the Commission provides to the public.

Legal Division Metrics for February 2017

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

  • Written advice.  The Legal Division answered by letter or email 46 written requests for advisory opinions under G.L. c. 268A and c. 268B.

            For comparison:  February 2016 (same month last year):     56
                                       January 2017 (previous month):                29

  • Oral advice.  The Legal Division attorneys provided advice by telephone or on a walk-in basis in response to 380 requests for advice from state, county and municipal officials.

            For comparison:  February 2016 (same month last year):    458
                                       January 2017 (previous month):               344

  • Review of municipal letters.  Division staff reviewed 2 letter issued by city solicitors/town counsel pursuant to G.L. c. 268A, § 22 and 930 CMR 1.03.

            For comparison:  February 2016 (same month last year):    5
                                       January 2017 (previous month):               5

  • Backlog.  As of today, the Division has 10 pending requests for written advice that are more than 30 days old.  There are a total of 20 pending requests for written advice.

Adjudicatory Matters

Ms. Roney presented the calendar of hearing dates in pending Commission adjudicatory proceedings. 

Litigation Matter

Ms. Roney 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 February 2017. 

[At 11:10 a.m. the Commission took a brief break.   At 11:26 a.m. the Commission reconvened.]

EXECUTIVE SESSION

At 11:27 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 G.L. c. 268B, §§ 3 and 4.  These matters will include investigatory matters, cases deferred, preliminary inquiry recommendations, and summons authorization requests and preliminary inquiry reports.

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 will reconvene in public session following the executive session.

PUBLIC SESSION

At 12:32 p.m., the Commission resumed the meeting in public session.  Present were Chairman Dortch-Okara, Vice-Chairman Quinlan, Commissioner Mills (participating remotely), Commissioner Sartory and Commissioner Krokidas (participating remotely).

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

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR SALARY

Ms. Roney reported that the Audit, Finance and Human Resources Committee (HR Committee) met on March 7, 2017, to discuss the Executive Director’s compensation.  Ms. Roney reported that the HR Committee recommends that the Executive Director be: (1) an at-will employee of the Commission; and (2) paid a salary of $145,000.

Ms. Roney noted that the Executive Director, Mr. Wilson, advised the HR Committee that he would like to provide raises to managerial staff and in order to ensure that there is enough money in the budget to provide for these raises, Mr. Wilson has requested that the Commission temporarily set his salary at $130,000 until it is determined that there are sufficient funds in the budget for managerial staff raises and for him to receive a salary of $145,000.

Following a discussion, on the motion of Vice-Chairman Quinlan, seconded by Commissioner Krokidas, the Commission voted to: (1) retain Mr. Wilson as the Executive Director as an at-will employee, (2) to establish Mr. Wilson’s salary at a rate of $145,000 per year, and (3) to give Mr. Wilson, at his discretion, the option to continue to receive a salary at a rate of $130,000 per year through FY 2017, if this is necessary in order to have sufficient funds to provide for managerial staff raises. 

The Commission agreed to further discuss the Executive Director’s compensation in May or June 2017, and to consider whether it is appropriate to compensate Mr. Wilson retroactively for the time period when he served as Executive Director and was receiving a salary of $130,000 instead of $145,000.  

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

ADJOURN MEETING

At 1:02 p.m., on the motion of Chairman Dortch-Okara, seconded by Vice-Chairman Quinlan 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 March 16, 2017.
  2. Minutes of the State Ethics Commission Meeting for the February 16, 2017 Public Session.
  3. Minutes of the State Ethics Commission Meeting for the February 16, 2017 Executive Session.
  4. Memorandum dated March 9, 2017 from David Giannotti to the Commission concerning Public Education and Communications Division report for the meeting.
  5. Memorandum dated March 10, 2017 from General Counsel Deirdre Roney to the Commission setting forth Legal Division matters for the meeting.
  6. Memorandum dated March 10, 2017 from General Counsel Deirdre Roney to the Commission regarding assistance to Task Force.
  7. Calendar of Hearing Dates in pending Commission Adjudicatory Proceedings.
  8. Report of Enforcement Division Investigations Unit metrics.
  9. Audit, Finance and Human Resources Committee’s recommendation for the Executive Director’s compensation.

Respectfully submitted,

Norah K. Mallam
Staff Attorney

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

Contact for March 16, 2017 State Ethics Commission Meeting- 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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