Ethics Commissioner: No surprises, please

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The San Francisco Ethics Commission voted unanimously on April 11 to amend a post-employment ban under the city's Campaign and Governmental Conduct Code, creating a provision that's designed to allow Mayor Ed Lee to resume his post as City Administrator following the completion of his term as interim mayor.

The change allows an appointed mayor to obtain city employment immediately after serving out a term, provided that he or she doesn't pull papers to run for office, was previously employed by the city, and doesn't receive a salary that's higher than the last year of city employment prior to taking office. The amendment builds in an exception to a rule banning the mayor and members of the Board of Supervisors from obtaining city employment for one year after leaving office.

Ethics Commission staff had recommended that this provision be expanded to apply to appointed members of the Board of Supervisors. While Mayor Lee's circumstance is a rare occurrence, supervisors are appointed far more often. "The underlying ordinance applies only to the mayor and the board, so we thought, why just do one, why not do both?" Ethics Commission director John St. Croix explained.

But a couple commissioners took issue with that idea, saying it was too far outside the scope of the law that voters enacted, and it ultimately did not win approval. "I don't see the compelling reason to include the supervisors," noted commissioner Charles Ward, "and I expect that members of the public are going to be awfully surprised. As a member of the public, I'd be surprised myself."