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

Thursday, November 16, 2017
9 a.m. - 12 p.m.

Address

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

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

MEETING CONVENED

Chairman Barbara A. Dortch-Okara called the meeting to order at 9:02 a.m. Also in attendance were Vice-Chairman Regina L. Quinlan, Commissioner David A. Mills, Commissioner Thomas J. Sartory, and Commissioner Maria J. Krokidas.

APPROVAL OF MEETING MINUTES

On the motion of Commissioner Mills seconded by Vice-Chairman Quinlan, the Commission voted 5-0 to waive the reading and approve the minutes of the October 19, 2017 public and executive sessions.

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR’S REPORT

Personnel

Mr. Wilson reported that the first round of interviews for the Public Information Officer position has been completed. The second round of interviews will take place the last week of November. Mr. Wilson anticipates that a candidate will be selected for this position by early December.

Appointment of New Commissioner

Mr. Wilson reported that he has not yet received any additional information regarding the appointment of a new Commissioner, but he has been advised that Secretary Galvin is working on the appointment.

Evaluations

Mr. Wilson reported that staff evaluations for the Administrative, Enforcement, and IT staff are nearly complete. The next step will be for managers to meet with staff to discuss the evaluations. Mr. Wilson stated that the Legal Division staff evaluations have been delayed, for a reason which will be discussed during executive session.

Staff Training

Mr. Wilson reported that Chief Financial Officer/Director of Budget & Administration Alice Wu, Enforcement Division Chief Monica Brookman, and Investigations Director Paul Murray have applied to participate in the state’s CORE Management Program for managers and supervisor. The CORE Program is the successor to the discontinued Commonwealth Management Certificate Program.

Budget

Mr. Wilson reported that the FY 2019 Maintenance Budget has been filed with Administration & Finance. Mr. Wilson thanked Ms. Wu and Governmental Affairs Officer Robert Milt for their work in putting the maintenance budget together.

Mr. Milt reported that for FY 2019 the Commission has requested an approximately 5% budget increase. Mr. Milt noted that this request includes funding for an additional Enforcement Division attorney position and the work-space associated with that position.

Commissioner Krokidas asked whether it would be helpful for Commissioners to send letters supporting the request for funding for the additional Enforcement Division attorney position. Mr. Milt responded that letters from the Commissioners are not necessary at this time, but it may be helpful in the future. Mr. Wilson noted that he will testify on the budget in late February, and that is when we will explain our need for the additional position.

COGEL Conference

Mr. Wilson reported that Chairman Dortch-Okara, Enforcement Division Chief Monica Brookman, and Investigations Director Paul Murray will attend the annual Council on Governmental Ethics Laws (COGEL) Conference on December 3-6 in Toronto. Mr. Wilson noted he is looking forward to resuming the Commission’s active involvement in COGEL.

Farewell Event for Commissioner Quinlan

Mr. Wilson reported that an event has been planned for Commissioner Quinlan on Tuesday, December 12, 2017, at 5:00 p.m. at Kinsale Restaurant.

Next Meeting

The next Commission meeting is scheduled for Thursday, December 21, 2017 at 9:00 a.m.

PUBLIC EDUCATION DIVISION REPORT

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

Mr. Giannotti reported that he recently presented seminars tailored specifically for the Massachusetts School Building Authority (“MSBA”) for individuals who are subject to the conflict of interest law because they are municipal employees by virtue of a contract between their private employer and a school district. He noted that the seminars have been well received.

Mr. Giannotti reported that he will present a seminar for Trustees of Library Boards this Saturday. He noted that over sixty (60) board members have registered to attend this seminar.

Mr. Giannotti reported that the website migration project is progressing on schedule. Mr. Giannotti noted that nearly 1,300 website content pages have been converted to the new format and we are on track to have all of the website content converted by the end of the year.

LEGAL DIVISION MATTERS

Deputy Legal Division Chief/SFI Lauren Duca reported on the activities of the Legal Division.

Legal Division Metrics for October 2017

Ms. Duca presented the following Legal Division metrics for October 2017.

  • Written advice. The Legal Division answered by letter or email 61 written requests for advisory opinions under G.L. c. 268A and c. 268B.

          For comparison: October 2016 (same month last year):  33
                                     
September 2017 (previous month):       43

  • Oral advice. The Legal Division attorneys provided advice by telephone or on a walk-in basis in response to 418 requests for advice from state, county and municipal officials.

          For comparison: October 2016 (same month last year):  373
                                     
September 2017 (previous month):       407

  • Review of municipal letters. Division staff reviewed 1 letters issued by city solicitors/town counsel pursuant to G.L. c. 268A, § 22 and 930 CMR 1.03.

          For comparison: October 2016 (same month last year):  6
                                     
September 2017 (previous month):       5

  • Backlog. As of today, the Division has 11 pending requests for written advice that are more than 30 days old, the oldest are from July 2017. There are a total of 29 pending requests for written advice.

Statements of Financial Interests (SFI)

Ms. Duca reported that she and Mr. Milt presented nine (9) training sessions for new and returning agency Liaisons. Ms. Duca anticipates that the SFI system will be open to Filers in February 2018.

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 a violation against him. The argument for McGovern’s Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings, and the Commission’s cross-motion has been scheduled for argument January 24, 2018.

Hansen v. State Ethics Commission:  Informally, we have received word that Howard Hansen has filed a pro se appeal of the Commission’s Decision and Order, which was issued on October 4, 2017. The Commission has not yet received Mr. Hansen’s formal notice of appeal.

ENFORCEMENT DIVISION MATTERS

Investigations Unit Metrics Report

Investigation Director Paul Murray presented the Enforcement Division Metrics for October 2017. Mr. Murray reported that the Enforcement Division had reduced its backlog in the last month and he commended the Enforcement Division Investigators for this accomplishment.

EXECUTIVE SESSION

At 9:24 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 G.L. c. 30A, § 21, subparagraph (a)(7) and § 18, and G.L. c. 268B, §§ 3 and 4. These matters included investigatory matters, cases deferred, education letters, preliminary inquiry recommendations, summons authorization requests, a preliminary inquiry report, a disposition agreement, advisory opinions and personnel matters.

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

     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 November 16, 2017.
     
  2. Minutes of the State Ethics Commission Meeting for the October 19, 2017 Public and Executive Sessions.
     
  3. Memorandum dated November 9, 2017 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 November 9, 2017 from General Counsel Deirdre Roney to the Commission setting forth Legal Division matters for the November 16, 2017 meeting.
     
  5. Calendar of Hearing Dates in pending Commission Adjudicatory Proceedings.
     
  6. Report of Enforcement Division Metrics.

Respectfully submitted,

 

Norah K. Mallam
Staff Attorney

Contact for November 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

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