Do Nonexistent City Officials File Imaginary Paperwork?

Image courtesy of The Flanders Group

Why had so few city officers and employees filed necessary forms? In part it’s because the people didn’t quite exist.

By Joe Eskenazi

Just a couple of weeks ago, John St. Croix thought he had a minor calamity on his hands. As of Aug. 13, the executive director of San Francisco’s ethics commission counted 81 city officers or employees who had failed to file their Statements of Economic Interest. Those were due on April 1, incidentally, and 81 non-filers means around one of every eight city officials was a delinquent.

An SEI, incidentally, is a financial statement filled out by a city official that allows members of the public to determine if a conflict of interest exists with the officials’ city duties. If, for example, a member of the Zoning Board owned real estate and stood to gain from a board ruling, that’s the sort of thing that would show up on an SEI.

Flouting of economic disclosure laws is hardly tantamount to the sort of government corruption one might uncover in, say, Islamabad. But, considering that, nine years ago, San Francisco achieved a perfect 100 percent filing rate, it’s somewhat alarming.

Yet, after a closer look, St. Croix found what was truly alarming was the state of the city’s record-keeping.

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