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March 29, 2018 State Ethics Commission Meeting Minutes- Public Session

Thursday, March 29, 2018
9 a.m. - 12 p.m.

Address

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

Contact for March 29, 2018 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 March 29, 2018 State Ethics Commission Meeting Minutes- Public Session

MEETING CONVENED

Chairman Barbara A. Dortch-Okara called the meeting to order at 9:04 a.m.  Also in attendance were, Commissioner Thomas J. Sartory, Commissioner Maria J. Krokidas, and Commissioner R. Marc Kantrowitz. Commissioner David Mills was absent.

Chairman Dortch-Okara welcomed newly appointed Commissioner R. Marc Kantrowitz.

APPROVAL OF MEETING MINUTES

On the motion of Commissioner Krokidas, seconded by Commissioner Sartory, the Commission voted 4-0 to waive the reading and approve the minutes of the January 18, 2018 public and executive sessions.

ELECTION OF NEW VICE CHAIR

On the motion of Commissioner Krokidas, seconded by Commissioner Sartory, the Commission voted 4-0 to elect Commissioner Mills as Vice Chairman.

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR’S REPORT

Appointment of a New Commissioner

Executive Director David A. Wilson welcomed Commissioner Kantrowitz.

Personnel

Mr. Wilson reported on the activities of a staff search committee for the General Counsel/Legal Division Chief position. He said that the Audit, Finance and Human Resources Committee met January 30 to discuss the recruiting and selection process, and that the position was advertised in various venues. Mr. Wilson said the search committee has reviewed resumes and selected 10 candidates for first-round interviews, which he expects to begin in early April. Chairman Dortch-Okara said the position is unique in that the Executive Director’s selection must be approved by the commissioners. Mr. Wilson said they would discuss the commissioners’ involvement in the selection process at the April meeting.

Budget

Mr. Wilson reported that on February 13, 2018, he traveled to Worcester to testify before the Joint Committee on Ways and Means in support of the Commission’s FY2019 budget request. He reported that he explained the Commission’s request for funding a fourth Enforcement Division attorney and for funding the Commission’s maintenance budget at a level about $30,000 higher than the Administration’s recommendation. He said he submitted written testimony explaining the request in more detail. Mr. Wilson also said the Commission submitted a capital funding request to EOTTS to support the procurement of a new case management system.

Further Office Improvements

Mr. Wilson reported that the Commission is in discussions with DCAMM to create two new work stations in the Commission’s office, which requires moving the computer server and wiring. The Commission contracted with a vendor to do the rewiring. The new units will be modular and will not require construction, permitting, or architectural services. Mr. Wilson also reported that he met with DCAMM about the possibility of digitizing records to eliminate the need to store some of the paper records currently in the office. Commission staff will meet with DCAMM again to discuss the possibility of moving the servers outside of the office and will assess whether such a move would meet the Commission’s security, access and cost needs.

Next Meeting

The next Commission meeting is scheduled for Thursday, April 19, 2018 at 9:00 a.m. Meetings were also scheduled for June 28, August 2, September 20, and October 18, 2018.

PUBLIC EDUCATION DIVISION REPORT

Public Education and Communications Division Chief David Giannotti presented his monthly Division Report.

Mr. Giannotti welcomed new Public Information Officer Gerry Tuoti.

Mr. Giannotti provided a description of the Public Education Division’s activities and said he travels 60-80 times per year to conduct conflict of interest law seminars. He has 6 upcoming seminars scheduled with the Lottery Commission in Braintree and Worcester.

Mr. Giannotti discussed website usage statistics and said they are very low for the current month. He said the decrease may be due to the analytics tool not yet being linked to all the content on the new website, as well as the legacy site shutting down in January.

LEGAL DIVISION MATTERS

Acting Legal Division Chief Lauren Duca reported on the activities of the Legal Division.   

Legal Division Metrics for January and February 2018

Ms. Duca presented the following Legal Division metrics for January and February 2018. There is no longer a backlog of advice requests more than 30 days old.

  • Written advice.  The Legal Division answered by letter or email 67 (January) and 72 (February) written requests for advisory opinions under G.L. c. 268A and c. 268B.

          For comparison:          January 2017 (same month last year):                         29
                                               December 2017 (previous month):                               65
                                               February 2017 (same month last year)                        46                       

  • Oral advice.  The Legal Division attorneys provided advice by telephone or on a walk-in basis in response to 444 (January) and 471 (February) requests for advice from state, county and municipal officials.

          For comparison:          January 2017 (same month last year):                       344
     
                                          December 2017 (previous month):                             368
                                               February 2017 (same month last year)                       380

  • Review of municipal letters.  Division staff reviewed 3 (January) and 2 (February) letters issued by city solicitors/town counsel pursuant to G.L. c. 268A, § 22 and 930 CMR 1.03.

          For comparison:          January 2017 (same month last year):                           5
                                               December 2017 (previous month):                                 1
                                               February 2017 (same month last year)                           2

  • Backlog.  As of March 15, the Division has 0 pending requests for written advice that are more than 30 days old.  There are a total of 20 pending requests for written advice.

Statements of Financial Interests (SFI)

Ms. Duca reported that the CY 2017 SFI filing season opened on February 6, 2018, a month and a half earlier than last year. The SFI system sent a notification to every filer with an email address in the system. An announcement and manual CY 2017 SFI form were placed on the Commission’s website. Materials were sent to filers to remind them of filing deadlines. Liaisons were reminded to update their filers’ user profiles. Ms. Duca said the Commission is working with its vendor PCC to address a functionality problem with the notification system for formal notices of lateness. She said she would like to make slight updates to the SFI system if there is sufficient funding available in the budget.

Adjudicatory Matters

Ms. Duca reported that a presiding officer needed to be selected for the matter of In Re MacGilvray, Docket No. 18-0001.  Commissioner Krokidas was selected.

Litigation Matters

McGovern v. State Ethics Commission: Hampden Superior Court Civil Action No. 1679CV00082.  Ms. Duca reported that Edward McGovern seeks judicial review pursuant to G.L. c. 30A of the Commission’s finding of violation against him.  Argument of McGovern’s Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings, and the Commission’s cross-motion, is scheduled for April 3, 2018. 

Hansen v. State Ethics Commission: Norfolk Superior Court Civil Action No. 1782CV01384. Ms. Duca reported that Howard Hansen seeks judicial review pursuant to G.L. c. 30A of the Commission’s finding of violations against him.  The appeal was served on the Commission on November 20, 2017.  The Commission filed the record on February 15, 2018.  Hansen has 30 days from the service of the record to file a motion for judgment on the pleadings.

Miscellaneous matters

Ms. Duca said the Commission received determinations from the Attorney General’s Office regarding an Open Meeting Law complaint against the Commission.  Acting General Counsel Pauline Nguyen explained an Open Meeting Law complaint was filed last year alleging that a meeting notice was insufficiently detailed. She said the decision found the Commission permissively withheld information in its meeting notices in order to comply with the Commission’s governing statutes regarding confidentiality, but committed a technical violation for not citing the statutory requirement for going into executive session.

Ms. Nguyen said the Commission received a determination from the Supervisor of Public Records upholding the Commission’s response to a public records request.

ENFORCEMENT DIVISION MATTERS

Enforcement Division Chief Monica Brookman welcomed Northeastern University intern Payton Schenck.

Enforcement Attorney Metrics

Ms. Brookman presented the Enforcement Division Metrics for Fiscal Year 2018. She said the metrics will be included on a quarterly basis in the future.

Investigations Unit Metrics Report

Investigation Director Paul Murray presented the Enforcement Division Metrics for January and February 2018.  Chairman Dortch-Okara asked what “noncompliant” intake calls are.  Mr. Murray explained that they are calls that do not result in a complaint.

EXECUTIVE SESSION

At 9:55 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 § 18, and G.L. c. 268B, §§ 3 and 4, including investigatory matters, cases deferred, preliminary inquiry reports, preliminary inquiry recommendations, summons authorization requests, a disposition agreement, and advisory opinions.

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

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

             Commissioner Kantrowitz      yes      

LIST OF DOCUMENTS USED AT THIS MEETING

1.  Agenda for the Commission Meeting of March 29, 2018.

2.  Minutes of the State Ethics Commission Meeting for the January 18, 2018 Public and Executive Sessions.

3.  Memorandum dated March 12, 2018 from Public Education and Communications Division Chief David Giannotti to the Commission concerning Public Education and Communications Division report for the meeting.

4.  Memorandum dated March 14, 2018 from Acting Legal Division Chief Lauren E. Duca to the Commission setting forth Legal Division matters for the March 29, 2018 meeting.

5.  January 24, 2018 letter from Assistant Attorney General Kevin W. Manganaro to Ethics Commission Assistant General Counsel Pauline Nguyen regarding an open meeting law complaint.

6.  February 21, 2018 letter from Supervisor of Records Rebecca S. Murray to Ethics Commission Acting General Counsel Pauline Nguyen regarding an appeal to a response to a public records request.

7.  Calendar of Hearing Dates in pending Commission Adjudicatory Proceedings.

8.  Report of Enforcement Division Attorney Metrics.

9.  Report of Enforcement Division Intake Metrics.

Respectfully submitted,

Gerry Tuoti
Public Information Officer

Contact for March 29, 2018 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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