From Rumblings to Reality: One City’s Story of Ethics Reform

This Article examines the formation and evolution of the City of Tallahassee’s Independent Ethics Board, primarily through the Author’s experience as Tallahassee’s Ethics Officer. The Author begins by describing how Tallahassee’s Ethics Advisory Panel (the Panel) arose from poor public perception and allegations of political corruption. The Panel undertook various tasks and activities to improve governmental transparency and ethical accountability in Tallahassee. For example, the Author documents how the Panel ultimately decided to create an Ethics Officer who could serve as an advisor for elected officials over ethical matters. The Author then elaborates on how Tallahassee’s City Commission voted and implemented various proposals submitted by the Panel, such as how the City’s new Ethics Officer would take office. In addition, the Author examines how the public was involved in Tallahassee’s ethics reform by describing how various reform groups helped pass an amendment that altered the City’s charter on ethics and campaign finance matters. The Author then discusses how the new amendment created Tallahassee’s Independent Ethics Board and, among other things, implemented the roles and responsibilities the Board is now required to fulfill. Finally, the Author concludes by providing insight on how other municipalities can create and improve their own local governmental programs based on Tallahassee’s own experiences.