Tallahassee Ethics Board Jurisdiction Reaches Beyond City Commission

Tallahassee Ethics Board Jurisdiction Reaches Beyond City Commission

On November 16th, John Reid, the legal counsel fort City of Tallahassee Independent Ethics Board (Board), published a memo in response to a request related to the jurisdiction of the Board.

At the Board’s September meeting, Board Member Ernie Paine sought an opinion regarding whether certain boards operating for the benefit of the citizens of Tallahassee fall within the jurisdiction of the City of Tallahassee Independent Ethics Board.

The Analysis

In November 2014, the electors of the City of Tallahassee voted to amend the municipal charter, creating the Tallahassee Independent Ethics Board and requiring a municipal ethics code.

The charter amendment established the City of Tallahassee Independent Ethics Board, directed the City Commission to enact an ethics code, and granted jurisdiction to the Ethics Board over public officers and city employees as well as over city boards, commissions, and committees.

In December 2019, the Tallahassee City Commission adopted significant amendments to the municipal ethics code, which included definitions of terms. The term “public official” was created to mean members of the city commission and commission-appointed aides, mayor and mayor’s appointed assistants and aides, city manager, city attorney, city auditor, city treasurer[1]clerk, members appointed by the city commission to serve on any advisory, quasi-judicial, or any other board, commission or committee of the city.”

The City of Tallahassee has numerous advisory boards, partners with Leon County in the operations of the Blueprint Intergovernmental Agency, and operates the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA). These groups of boards are treated differently under the Tallahassee Ethics Code.

Reid’s analysis indicates that the members of the Tallahassee citizen advisory boards, commissions, and committees meet the definition of “public officials.” As a result, these individuals fall within the jurisdiction of the Tallahassee Independent Ethics Board.

Reid indicates that Tallahassee City Commissioners serving on the Board of Directors for the Blueprint Intergovernmental Agency also fall under the jurisdiction of the Tallahassee Independent Ethics Board. However, the question as to jurisdiction over Blueprint staff is less clear.

Reid notes that a recommended solution pertaining to the ambiguity related to Blueprint staff would be to simply inquire of the Tallahassee City Commission its intention. If the City Commission intends for those Blueprint staff paid by the City of Tallahassee to be subject to the Tallahassee Ethics Board’s jurisdiction over boards, commissions, or committees, the applicable ordinances could be amended to better clarify this matter. Likewise, if the Tallahassee City Commission wishes for Blueprint staff to be outside this Board’s jurisdiction, that could also be better clarified.

Reid’s analysis indicates that if a complaint were filed against a Blueprint staff person alleging a violation of the Tallahassee Ethics Code, this Board will ultimately make its own findings as to jurisdiction, which could be subject to legal challenge initiated by the Respondent.

Reid concludes that the CRA members are public officials within the jurisdiction of the Tallahassee Independent Ethics Board. The CRA staff are intended to be separate from the City of Tallahassee, including its exercise of powers delegated to it by the City Commission. These individuals, however, are listed by the City of Tallahassee as city employees, which would avail them to the jurisdiction of the Tallahassee Independent Ethics Board.

6 Responses to "Tallahassee Ethics Board Jurisdiction Reaches Beyond City Commission"

  1. City Commissioners are so corrupt that why I don’t live in the city anymore. pay for a BLM sign at railroad ave but don’t allow any other group to put up their names ?? double standard.

  2. Ruh Ro… This is exactly what happens when you tell a bunch of unethical crooks they need to set up and ethics commission to reform themselves.

    Everyone should be under scrutiny when our tax dollars are funding it. Whatever it is…

  3. The voters’ intent was ALL commissioners and their staff, city management and all city emoloyees, all boards, and agencies including all Blue Print management and staff.

    If anyone in this group hasn’t done anything wrong they should have no problem.

  4. Sarcasm light on – maybe Legal Counsel John Reed should consult with former ethics officer Meadows-Keith for her esteemed opinion rather than suggesting the Commission do anything official to turn off their money printing lucrative relationship with the CRA/Blueprint slush fund – sarcasm light off.

  5. Everyone connected with the CRA, Blue Print and the others, including the Officials (elected or appointed), Staff, Aides, Assistants, etc, should all be under the Tallahassee Independent Ethics Board. Why wouldn’t they be?

  6. 1- Mayor Dailey for misusing City of Tallahassee Channel WCOT. AIRING campaign ads disguised as COT promos.

    2 – CRA individuals who voted FOR J T Burnette to receive CRA funds

    3 – County Commissioner Nick Maddox for double dipping regarding positions with Leon County Schools cool and Boys & Girls Club

    4 – City Commissioners who voted to give funds to legal aid to make ID cards. They awarded a no-bid contract without doing an assessment need.

    5 – City Commissioners who misused funds to attend the Chamber of Commerce junkets in Sandestin and Amelia Island. This event is nothing more than a PR event for themselves and their re-election campaigns. It has no benefit to the taxpayers.

    6 – City Commissioners for dereliction of duty for not doing a nationwide search for a proper city manager. The current city manager was derived from corruption and that tie should be severed immediately. Not replacing the city manager is dereliction of duty.

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