Update: Lee Waiver OK, Supe Waiver Not So Much

by Larry Bush on 04/08/2011

in In/Out

Ethics Commissioners kicked to the curb the proposal from their Executive Director and Deputy Director that the city’s law be weakened to allow appointed supervisors to skip the cooling off period before being allowed to seek a new city job or to contact city officials on behalf of paying clients. The 5-0 vote took place at the April 11 meeting.

As expected, the Commission approved the waiver aimed at interim Mayor Ed Lee but with a provisio that a city official tapped to be an appointed mayor could only return to a job that paid no more than the one they left. The commissioners explained that they wanted clarity that an interim mayor couldn’t increase a position salary and then be appointed to the higher paying job they set up.

Board President David Chiu’s aide Judson True spoke in favor of the waivers, focusing on the Ed Lee situation but did not express any opposition to the waiver for appointed supervisors. Jon Golinger of San Franciscans for Clean Government spoke against the staff proposal to waive the revolving door rule for appointed supervisors, pointing out that, unlike an interim mayor situation, it is far more common that a vacancy opens on the Board and an appointment is made.

Ethics Commission Executive Director John St. Croix, questioned about the waiver for appointed supervisors, seemed to suggest that it was based on a desire to be tidy, making the two positions of a vacant mayor and a vacant supervisor treated the same. Commissioners clearly were unimpressed with the notion that the positions are similar, noting that a mayoral vacancy is filled by the supervisors jointly while a supervisor vacancy is filled by one person — the mayor.

The Ethics staff proposal was only the latest of a series of steps they have urged on the commission to weaken the city’s ethics laws.

Among the commissioners who participated in the discussions, and ultimately voting to limit the waiver to Ed Lee.

At its March 14 meeting, the Ethics Commission approved just such a waiver for Kylie McClellan, a staffer at the Mayor’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development  involved with the negotiations for the America’s Cup contract to now take a position as the Executive Director of the San Francisco America’s Cup Organizing Committee.

During the Ethics Commission deliberation, the issue was raised regarding McClellan’s potential role negotiating on behalf of her new employer regarding the terms she helped negotiate for the city, but the Commission ultimately decided not to add a rider addressing that revolving role.

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