November 23, 1998
KING COUNTY BOARD OF ETHICS MEETING NOTICE
When: Monday, November 23, 1998; 4:30 p.m.
Where: E224 King County Courthouse Conference Room
1. Approval of Agenda. (2 minutes)
2. Approval of Meeting Minutes of October 26, 1998. (4 minutes)
3. Request for Advisory Opinion. Staff briefing; Board consideration of whether to issue an opinion. (15 minutes)
- Harborview Board of Trustees
4. Advisory Opinions. Staff briefing; Board consideration of advisory opinions. (30 minutes)
- Ho-Chuan Chen - outside employment
- Information and Telecommunications Services - personal use of cellular telephones
5. 1999 Financial Disclosure Program. Discussion and determination of who must file disclosure statements in 1999; approval of 1999 financial disclosure form. (20 minutes)
6. Staff Report. (10 minutes)
- Department of Public Health Ethics Education & Training
- 2000 Budget Process
- Board Photos
- Lobbyist Disclosure Ordinance
cc: Ron Sims, King County Executive
King County Councilmembers
Duncan Fowler, Director–Ombudsman, Office of Citizen Complaints
Sheryl V. Whitney, Director, DIAS
James J. Buck, Acting Deputy Director, DIAS
Carl A. Johansen, Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney
Ho-Chuan Chen, Transportation Planner, Department of Transportation
Sue Osterhoudt, Supervisor, Transportation Planning, Department of Transportation
Linda Greenough, Acting Planning, Finance & Administration Manager, ITS
J. Thomas Ranken, President, Harborview Board of Trustees
Margi Wadden, Staff Liaison, Harborview Board of Trustees
Jane Guiltinan, ND, CMO, Bastyr University
Minutes of the November 23, 1998
Special Meeting of the King County Board of Ethics
The November 23, 1998 special meeting of the King County Board of Ethics was called to order by Chair Price Spratlen at 4:30 p.m.
Board members in attendance:
Dr. Lois Price Spratlen, Chair
Mr. Roland H. Carlson
Judge Paul M. Feinsod
Lembhard G. Howell, Esq.
Rev. Paul F. Pruitt
Others in attendance:
- Ms. Catherine A. Clemens, Administrator, King County Board of Ethics Mr. Carl A. Johansen, Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney, Office of the Prosecuting Attorney Mr. James J. Buck, Acting Deputy Director, Department of Information and Administrative Services (arriving at 4:40 p.m.) Mr. J. Thomas Ranken, President, Harborview Board of Trustees (leaving at 5:05 p.m.) Dr. Ronald V. Maier, M.D., Director, Department of Surgery, Harborview Medical Center (leaving at 5:05 p.m.) Mr. John A. Coulter, Executive Director, Health Sciences Administration and Associate Vice President of Medical Affairs, University of Washington (leaving at 5:05 p.m.) Dr. Jane Guiltinan, N.D., Clinic Medical Director of Bastyr University and former Co-Medical Director of the King County Natural Medicine Clinic (leaving at 5:05 p.m.) Mr. Ho-Chuan Chen, Transportation Planner, Department of Transportation (leaving at 5:20 p.m.) Ms. Sue Osterhoudt, Supervisor, Transportation Planning, Department of Transportation (leaving at 5:20 p.m.) Ms. Linda Greenough, Manager, Information and Telecommunication Services, Department of Information and Administrative Services (leaving at 5:50 p.m.)
1. Agenda. Mr. Carlson moved the agenda be approved; Rev. Pruitt seconded the motion and the agenda was approved. Following approval of the agenda, those in attendance introduced themselves.
2. Approval of Meeting Minutes of October 26, 1998. Mr. Carlson moved to approve the October 26 minutes as written; Rev. Pruitt seconded the motion, and the minutes were approved.
3. Request for Advisory Opinion.
Harborview Board of Trustees. Ms. Clemens briefed the Board. Haborview Medical Center is owned by King County but managed by the University of Washington under a fee arrangement. As provided by K.C.C. 2.42.040, trustees of the Harborview Board are nominated by individual County Councilmembers, then forwarded to the County Executive for appointment. After making the appointment, the Executive forwards the appointment to the Council for confirmation. In this instance, Councilmember Maggi Fimia nominated Dr. Jane Guiltinan. Executive Sims appointed her to the Board on September 28, 1998, and the appointment was forwarded to the Council for confirmation on October 16, 1998.Dr. Guiltinan is the Clinic Medical Director of Bastyr University and former Co-Medical Director of the King County Natural Medicine Clinic. Mr. Ranken, President of the Harborview Board of Trustees, wrote to the Board of Ethics on October 23, stating that the organizations to which Dr. Guiltinan is affiliated are competitors with Harborview, thus creating a conflict for Dr. Guiltinan. He asked the Board to issue an advisory opinion on whether there is a conflict of interest for an appointee to the Harborview Board of Trustees under these circumstances.Ms. Clemens suggested that the Board’s jurisdiction in this matter may be at issue. Although board and commission members are defined as county employees, it is unclear at this time whether Dr. Guiltinan is an appointee or board member. Only if she were a board member would the Board of Ethics have jurisdiction. Mr. Howell asked if an appointee served until confirmed; this was his experience. Mr. Johansen offered that a County provision allows for a board member to serve once the appointment letter is filed with the Clerk of the Council. In this case, the Executive did not file the letter. The motion to confirm was filed with the Clerk on October 16, 1998. This may be enough for compliance. Mr. Howell agreed; that should be the interpretation. Mr. Johansen drew the Board’s attention to 2.42.040(C), which grants to appointing officials the ability to determine whether or not a candidate is eligible to serve on the Board of Trustees. The process of review and eligibility is still in process since the matter has not yet been taken up by the Council. This makes the issue murky since two parts of the Code may conflict—the Code versus the political process. Judge Feinsod felt the Board of Ethics should first determine jurisdiction before any decision is made upon the request. Further, there is a deliberative process already in motion.Chair Price Spratlen asked for additional comments. Mr. Ranken stated that, from the Harborview Board’s perspective, Dr. Guiltinan became a boardmember as of November 16. He added that Harborview exists in a competitive marketplace, and that the Board makes a broad array of decisions. He asked if Dr. Guiltinan’s taking part in these decisions would pose a conflict. Mr. Howell asked what specific circumstances are at issue. Mr. Coulter then read from a prepared statement. Harborview provides health care services and student training and is managed by the University of Washington. Bastyr provides health services and training in natural health. Both Bastyr and Harborview submitted competing proposals to King County to operate the King County Natural Medicine Clinic. Bastyr and Harborview are in the same type of business and therefore a conflict exists. For example, a Harborview Board member working for Bastyr would have to recuse himself or herself from virtually all decision-making. Mr. Howell asked if Harborview ran a natural health clinic. No. Bastyr won the County clinic award, but Harborview does provide natural health care and primary care in competition with Bastyr.Judge Feinsod stated again the need to resolve the issue of jurisdiction before the Board goes forth on other specific issues. Harborview Trustees may feel Dr. Guiltinan is a sitting member, but that does not resolve it satisfactorily. Judge Feinsod moved that the Board of Ethics resolve the issue of jurisdiction before going forth on the issue of conflict. Mr. Carlson seconded the motion. Mr. Howell asked to speak in opposition to the motion, stating that the Harborview Board feels Dr. Guiltinan is a Board member and suggested asking the people present to help resolve the issue of jurisdiction. Judge Feinsod emphasized that his intent was to urge the Board to defer until it has more knowledge regarding jurisdiction, not to table the inquiry. Rev. Pruitt asked to take up the motion later and hear additional facts from those present. Mr. Carlson stated he supported the staff recommendation to decline to issue an advisory opinion at this time since jurisdiction over the matter is in question and because the appointment and confirmation process is not yet completed—a recommendation which was in agreement with Judge Feinsod’s motion. Upon a question from the Board, Dr. Guiltinan stated that Executive staff member Rick Ybarra informed her she would become a board member within thirty days of the appointment letter. Therefore, she would be a board member at this time. Mr. Ranken said it would be helpful for the Board of Ethics to issue an opinion now. Chair Price Spratlen observed that since the Council is still reviewing the issue, there is reason to delay a Board decision until the Council is finished. Mr. Carlson agreed and stated jurisdiction is at issue. Mr. Howell stated Dr. Guiltinan is technically a Board member. He asked if waiting until Council acts would deprive the Board of Ethics of jurisdiction. No. Mr. Johansen suggested that if the Board did take up the issue, someone might present a pattern of facts in this particular instance for the Board to consider.Mr. Howell made a substitute motion that the Board of Ethics defer action on the request by the Haborview Board of Trustees for an advisory opinion until the County Council acts on the confirmation process. Mr. Carlson seconded the motion and the motion passed unanimously.Mr. Johansen asked Harborview representatives if they had presented their concerns to the Executive. No, not before the appointment was made. They are unsure if they will go before the Council. They were told the Executive would bring the issue to the Board of Ethics. Was Councilmember Fimia aware of the concerns? Yes. Mr. Buck mentioned that DIAS had learned previously that the Executive expressed a desire to bring this issue to the attention of the Board.Dr. Maier expressed the deep concerns on behalf of the Harborview medical staff about the appointment. He stated the Council has the option of delaying consideration of this issue for an indeterminate time and therefore asked the Board of Ethics to inform the Council that their decision hinged on a confirmation decision. Judge Feinsod suggested that, since the information was of public record, the Harborview Board would be able to communicate this to the Council. After some discussion, the Board directed Ms. Clemens to draft a letter from the Board to the Council Chair and to the Executive to inform them of its decision regarding the Harborview Board of Trustees request and to invite comments from the Council or County Executive.
The Board asked if Dr. Guiltinan would like to make any comments. She stated she had originally turned down an invitation to serve on the Harborview Board. She was asked to reconsider and had accepted, because she felt she could fairly and objectively represent the citizens of King County, who are the owners of Harborview. She noted that Mr. Ranken also works for a company which has received contracts from the University of Washington, so potential for conflict of interest exists for other board members as well.
4. Advisory Opinions.
Outside Employment/Mr. Ho-Chuan Chen. Ms. Clemens briefed the Board. This issue was previously discussed at the October board meeting. At that time, the Board agreed to issue an advisory opinion on Mr. Chen’s request regarding his outside employment. Mr. Chen is a transportation planner for King County. Before coming to the County, he owned a transportation consulting firm. He now wishes to continue that outside employment as a subcontractor for municipalities and other governmental agencies doing work similar to that which he does for the County. Mr. Chen has stated that his request is not related to any investigation or issue within the department. However, his supervisor suggested he ask for an advisory opinion from the Board of Ethics on his specific circumstances. The Assistant Manager of Transportation Planning told Ms. Clemens that he was not aware of any written guidelines within the division or department on outside employment.Board members posed questions to Mr. Chen and Ms. Osterhoudt including: the ability to balance county work time and outside employment; trading on county position for advertising; availability of information, databases and applications to be used in the proposed outside employment to the general public; and, the existence of contracts between the county and any of the named municipalities or governmental agencies. The Board received satisfactory answers to those questions. Chair Price Spratlen asked Ms. Clemens to read the portion of the draft opinion in which the Board encouraged the department to seek annual training on ethics related issues and provide written guidelines on outside employment to help employees avoid potential conflicts of interest. Judge Feinsod then moved to accept the draft opinion as submitted by Ms. Clemens. Rev. Pruitt seconded the motion, and the motion passed unanimously.Information and Telecommunication Services. During the meeting of October 26, 1998, the Board of Ethics heard a request for an advisory opinion from Information and Telecommunication Services (ITS) regarding personal use of cellular phones. The Board directed the Administrator to draft an advisory opinion for their consideration at the next scheduled Board meeting. Ms. Clemens stated that after careful review of the law, past advisory opinions, and consultation with Board counsel, she was submitting a memorandum for Board consideration in lieu of the draft advisory opinion. The memo provided a review of the request; relevant law and studies; Advisory Opinion 1078; alternative courses of action; and a recommendation.After initial deliberation, Mr. Carlson moved to adopt the recommendation to decline to issue an advisory opinion since previous Advisory Opinion 1078 has been issued on point by the Board of Ethics, and since there were no significant changes in law or circumstances. Mr. Howell seconded the motion. Judge Feinsod asked Ms. Greenough if she felt circumstances had changed since that opinion was written. She stated the use of cellular phones was previously limited primarily to directors. Today, many line staff, working 24 hour on-call status, are issued phones and may be called back to work on their way home. They do not receive compensation for these overtime hours. Mr. Carlson stated that this kind of issue should be a management prerogative. Chair Price Spratlen pointed out that the issue is about personal use versus job related use. Ms. Clemens asked if there had been any tracking of the problem, including how often this may occur and the job position of the employee. She pointed out that the examples provided by ITS had cited director or manager level positions. Ms. Greenough said that there had been no tracking but the new draft policy was a result of a morale problem within the division. Employees in lower level positions are not compensated for overtime and are often most affected. The Board discussed the reasonableness of using the cellular phones for personal convenience if job related, such as returning to work suddenly. Judge Feinsod stated that the minutes could reflect that the opinion was still found to be viable, but agencies are not precluded from coming back to the Board later when more information is available regarding actual use. Ms. Greenough stated she felt this statement was enough for ITS to go back and work with the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office to develop additional definitions related to personal use when job related. She stated she understood that using the phone for personal reasons were different from business reasons. Mr. Buck referred to the County’s travel ordinance which would conform to this standard. Mr. Howell agreed with Mr. Carlson that it is the prerogative of management to issue guidelines related to job related necessities. Mr. Johansen distributed a handout highlighting portions of previous opinions 1078 and 1146 which defined in part appropriate use of various kinds of county property; Mr. Johansen strongly urged the Board to consider rewriting or modifying opinion 1078. Ms. Clemens stated that if the Board wished to change the cellular use policy, they may wish to consider recommendation #3, which was to draft legislation for the Executive to submit to the County Council recommending changes in the existing Code of Ethics allowing for use of County/public property under certain circumstances. Mr. Howell stated that an employee needed more wiggle room to meet the realities of work life and asked Mr. Johansen to draft language that would not stretch the law. Mr. Carlson stated again his belief that these issues are management problems and that it is not the place of the Board to generate legislation. Judge Feinsod said this discussion of the Board’s intent may be buried in the official minutes and not be widely known. If circumstances change, the Board may decide to do more, including update the opinion. Chair Price Spratlen asked Ms. Clemens to read the options again. Ms. Clemens identified the three potential courses of action: 1) Decline to issue an advisory opinion because the issue was previously addressed in Advisory Opinion 1078 and neither the law or circumstances have changed significantly since then; 2) Issue an advisory opinion changing or reversing Advisory Opinion 1078; and 3) Draft legislation for the Executive to submit to the County Council recommending changes in the existing Code of Ethics allowing for use of County/public property under certain circumstances. Judge Feinsod suggested a variation on option #2, to revise Advisory Opinion 1078, rather than change or reverse it. Mr. Carlson stated that cost is a central issue to consider. Ms. Greenough stated county employees are dependent on advisory opinions through the Ethics home page and the minutes, which described the Board’s thinking about certain uses of County property, are not available there. Ms. Clemens informed the meeting that, as of August 1998, all minutes and agendas will be found on the web site. Ms. Greenough recommended linking the advisory opinion references. Mr. Howell moved that Ms. Clemens, in consultation with Mr. Johansen, prepare an updated version of advisory opinion 1078 reflecting ‘work related, personal phone use.’ Judge Feinsod seconded the motion. The motion passed with four votes in favor; Mr. Carlson abstained.1999 Financial Disclosure Program. Ms. Clemens reviewing materials provided to Board members to aid them in determining who must file statements of financial disclosure in 1999. The Board discussed the need to revisit a list of those who must file and Judge Feinsod stated such reviews are legitimate. The Board turned its attention to the requirement for board and commission members to file. Chair Price Spratlen stated that it is important that Ethics Board members file since they sit in judgment. Ethics Board members must be accountable first. Ms. Clemens noted that all members must file an initial statement in the appointment and confirmation process. The Board and Administrator discussed a process by which they might review which board and commission members might be required to file, including a review of all enabling legislation, identification of functions which logically would necessitate a disclosure statement, and comparison for all 58 boards and commissions. Judge Feinsod suggested the Board consider discussing the possibility of a systematic review during the January retreat. He stressed this did not mean the actual review, but a review of a process, including asking if the Board had adequate resources to carry out the task. Rev. Pruitt stated that board service may attract people of wealth and influence, and filing statements may be a good thing. Rev. Pruitt then moved to proceed with the list as presented to the Board with a review at a later, undetermined time. Mr. Howell seconded the motion, and the motion passed unanimously.
Ms. Clemens then asked for a vote on the draft 1999 Financial Disclosure Statement. After discussion and nominal corrections, Judge Feinsod moved to approve the form as drafted; Rev. Pruitt seconded the motion and the motion was approved unanimously.
6. Staff Report. Ms. Clemens reported to the Board on current administrative issues.
Department of Public Health Training. At the October 26 meeting, the board declined to issue an advisory opinion for Public Health since they had developed personnel policies focused on issues raised by questions posed by the Board. The Board also recommended ethics training. Ms. Clemens stated she is meeting with Public Health managers on December 7 to identify their needs and set a training schedule. 2000 Budget Process. Ms. Clemens announced that the 1999 budget will be voted on by the County Council by the end of the year. Mr. Buck stated that it had passed this week and that the Board could expect a status quo budget—no increase or decrease. Ms. Clemens noted that, although there were no cuts, the budget does not keep pace with inflation. She also informed the Board that the 2000 business plan draft is due by end of January, 1999, and that the Board may wish to include the business plan and budget on agenda of the January 9th retreat. Chair Price Spratlen stated that education and training is the Board’s first priority and we must find resources to support that initiative. She directed the Administrator to continue to convey that message to DIAS personnel. Chair Price Spratlen mentioned costs for the 1999 Board reception, which will be paid for by the Board in 1999. Last year, Ms. Whitney paid the costs, and, while it was appreciated, the Board will finance the reception in the future.Board Photos. Photo proofs are back and available for viewing in the Ethics office. An instruction sheet provides directions on how to make selections.
Lobbyist Disclosure Ordinance. The County Council passed a lobbyist disclosure ordinance last week. The administrative responsibilities are assigned to the Department of Information and Administrative Services; there are several possible agencies within the department to do the actual administration, including the Ethics office. No decision has been made at this time.
Mr. Buck commented on Ms. Greenough’s statement that county employees look to the Ethics web site for information and advisory opinions. The intention of providing ethics related information to county staff by developing a comprehensive Ethics home page is working. Ms. Greenough’s comments are evidence of a good result.Chair Price Spratlen stated that the quality and preparedness of Ms. Clemens’ and Mr. Johansen’s work should be recognized.At 6:45 p.m., Mr. Carlson moved to adjourn the meeting; Rev. Pruitt seconded the motion; the motion was approved unanimously and the meeting was adjourned.Approved this ___ day of _________________, 1998
by the King County Board of Ethics.
Signed for the Board: _________________________________________
Dr. Lois Price Spratlen, Chair