Friday, March 14, 2014

City Attorney Creates Complaint Process Over Charlotte Shultz Charity

Here's the latest news with my various complaints against a nonprofit headed by socialite-about-town Charlotte Shultz that receives public dollars that just happen to be spent on activities related to her official duties as the Mayor's Protocol Chief. This is my recent complaint to the General Services Agency which administers the annual grant to Shultz's charity:

I wish to lodge a formal complaint against the San Francisco Host Committee for failing to meet all requirements of the City's nonprofit sunshine law, specifically the section mandating that all nonprofits that receive $250,000 in a fiscal year must hold at least two public board meetings that are well-publicized before they take place

There is no evidence at the main branch of the public library showing that the SF Host Committee, which has received $250,000 annually from the GSA for the past six fiscal years, ever held a single public board meeting. 

Therefore, I am requesting a full investigation into why the SF Host Committee has taken $250,000 annually from the City but has failed to hold any open board meetings in the past six years.

Bill Barnes, the project manager for GSA, shared this response:

After consulting with the City Attorney, we have established a process for formally investigating this and future complaints regarding [nonprofits failing to hold the required public board meetings.]

1. The City Administrator will send a letter to the grantee informing them a complaint has been made, and asking for information to demonstrate compliance with the section.

2. The grantee will have no more than 14 days to respond to the letter.

3. After receiving a response, the City Administrator will swiftly make a determination and/or request additional information.

4. The grantee and the complainant will be notified of the results. If the grantee is deemed to have violated the provision, the City Administrator will consider next steps based on the seriousness of the violation and the provisions included in the Administrative Code.

Wow, up to now the City Attorney has lacked a process for handling complaints about nonprofits complying with the law. I imagine many nonprofits have been quite happy with the process because there's basically been no monitoring of them meeting the full sunshine provisions of the law, and not just at the GSA.

What Barnes says is that only in response to my doggedness, the process to handle and investigate complaints has just been established with the City Attorney. There apparently is no such process for any City department on this, otherwise I believe he would have said the City Attorney's existing process for the other departments would now apply with the GSA. So much for City Attorney Dennis Herrera and his bloated staff serving as watchdogs over charities receiving public grants.

But how is GSA currently keeping tabs on the grants flowing to folks like Shultz and their nonprofits? Barnes replied:

It is up to contracting departments to monitor and enforce contract provisions. The responsibility to perform [and hold the public board meetings] rests with the grantee. We are actively investigating your complaint so I cannot provide additional information until that is completed. After this investigation is concluded, we may change some of our practices going forward.

Don't you just love knowing the City expects the charities to voluntarily publicize and hold those required two open board meetings annually, and that essentially there is no current overall monitoring of the hundreds of nonprofits receiving more than $250,000?

If he's not too busy planning his next run for office and promoting himself, City Attorney Dennis Herrera and his office's staffers should audit every nonprofit that falls under the sunshine nonprofit law and determine if and how they are complying with the law.

He might also look into how Prop F from 1998, which barred use of municipal money for the Protocol Chief's duties and parties, is and has been flouted for years by Shultz. There needs to be much more scrutiny of her nonprofit and how she spends taxpayer money.

1 comment:

Stephen R. Stapleton, Sacramento, CA said...

Michael, you are truly to be congratulated on your work here. This is excellent progress in bringing transparency and openness to government. While the amount is small in the great scheme of things, the principal is important and it will put other non-profits on notice about the need for openness in spending the people's money. Good work!