The independent Ethics Board was created in accordance with voters' approval of a City Charter amendment during the November, 2014 general election. Approval of the referendum created a 7-member Board comprised of 5 seats designated for appointment by local entities including the City Commission, Chief Judge of the Second Judicial Circuit, State Attorney for the Second Judicial Circuit, President of Florida State University, and President of Florida A & M University. The referendum required these initial 5 Board members to select two additional members to bring the Board to a full complement of 7 members.
As specified in the Charter amendment, the Ethics Board has the following duties and responsibilities:
(i) assist the City Commission in the development of the ethics code;
(ii) adopt bylaws and due process procedures for the administration of the Ethics Board;
(iii) manage a citywide ethics hotline for receipt of allegations of local corruption, fraud, waste, mismanagement, campaign finance and ethics violations;
(iv) manage and coordinate the mandatory training of local officials, officers, employees, and board members in state and local ethics;
(v) have the authority to refer ethics and corruption matters to appropriate enforcement agencies;
(vi) recommend proposed ordinances, resolutions, or charter amendments to the City Commission in all areas of ethics and corruption, including but not limited to: conflicts of interests, financial disclosure, voting conflicts, hotline policies, ethics education, ethics in procurement, campaign ethics and financing, and lobbying; such legislative proposals shall be filed with and considered by the City Commission;
(vii) have the authority to investfigate complaints and to levy those civil penalties as may be authorized by the City Commission for violations of the City's ethics code; and
(viii) employ staff serving in the ethics office. A structure shall be established for the Ethics Board that ensures independence and impartiality, and provides for the maximum practicable input from citizens and community organizations. The Ethics Board shall be funded by the City Commission within its discretionary budgetary authority at a level sufficient to discharge the Board's responsibilities.
|Seat / Designation
|1 / City Commission
||Ms. Sunny Phillips
|2 / Chief Judge, 2nd Judicial Circuit
|3 / State Attorney
||Mr. Cecil L. Davis, Jr., Esq.
|4 / President of FSU
||Mr. Richard Herring, Esq.
|5 / President of FAMU
||Mr. Bryan Smith, Esq.
|6 / At-large Seat 1
||Mr. Bruce D. Grant
|7 / At-large Seat 2
||Ms. Renee McNeill
Board meetings are held in the City Commission Chambers on the second floor of City Hall, 300 South Adams Street.
Additional information may be found at the city's meetings agenda platform at BoardDocs.
Agenda for the March 21, 2017 Meeting
2017 Meeting Schedule
Interested parties may contact the Board via e-mail or phone at 850-891-8036.
The Ethics Office manages a citywide ethics hotline for receipt of allegations of local corruption, fraud, waste, mismanagement, campaign finance and ethics violations. Contact the Ethics & Fraud Hotline at (850) 891-8813.
To file a written complaint, please download and complete the complaint form (PDF) and mail to: Julie Meadows-Keefe, Ethics Officer, 300 South Adams Street, Tallahassee, FL 32301.
To report other issues:
- Discrimination Issues, call Equity and Workforce Development at 891-8290
- Worker's Compensation Fraud Issues, call Risk Management at 891-2117
- Employee Relation Issues, call Human Resources at 891-8331
In September 2012, the City Commission approved the creation of a citizens' Ethics Advisory Panel (EAP) whose purpose was to examine the various City policies, procedures, and practices relating to ethics, financial disclosures, and transparency of the government. The review was conducted to evaluate existing practices, seeking to ensure that polices were adequate to serve their purpose, understood by those who are to abide by them, and to ensure the various policies and procedures were accessible.
Over the course of eight months, the Panel conducted eighteen meetings to gather information and evaluate the City's current practices, including conducting two public hearings to solicit input from the community. At the conclusion of its efforts, the Panel submitted a Final Report of recommendations to the City Commission, at which time the Panel was decommissioned.
On September 22, 2014, the City Commission adopted Ordinance No. 14-O-44AA, enacting the following enhancements:
- Created Section 2-5, City Code of Ordinances, establishing the position of City Ethics Officer and the duties of said position. The officer is to be jointly administered by the City Auditor and City Attorney. This new official's office will be administratively located in the City Auditor's wing on the second floor of City Hall, and the official will report jointly to the City Auditor and City Attorney.
City Ethics Officer position description (created June, 2014).
Effective October 1, 2014, Ms. Julie Meadows-Keefe, Esq. was hired as the City Ethics Officer.
- Created Article 1, Section 2 of the City Code of Ordinances to codify a formal, comprehensive Code of Ethics capable of being posted to a single, easily-accessible location on the City's website. Further, that this Code of Ethics contain references to all pertinent state and local laws and ordinances governing ethics. In addition, create a handbook to serve as a quick reference or "pocket guide" to this larger, comprehensive Code of Ethics.
The Code of Ethics will contain links to information such as those list above.
- Adopted a preamble for inclusion in the newly-created Code of Ethics to read as follows:
Whereas the citizens of Tallahassee have determined that they will be best served by adopting a municipal form of local government; and whereas the citizens have vested in the public officials and employees of that municipal government the responsibility and trust for operating that government for the benefit of its citizens; and whereas those citizens are entitled to a government that is open, ethical, responsive and accountable to the highest degree possible; now, therefore, the following ethics code is adopted:
- Created Section 2-3 of the City Code of Ordinances, mandating the following language be added to the standard loyalty oath sworn by all Florida public employees. The additional oath reads as follows:
I further solemnly swear or affirm that I have a commitment to the public trust, the highest standards of professionalism and ethics including a commitment to the constant appearance of propriety, always putting public trust first and never allowing personal benefit to affect my decisions and service as a public servant.
- Created Section 2-4 of the City Code of Ordinances, codifying and affirming the City's current practice of ensuring that only the most ethical individuals are employed, appointed, and/or promoted.
- Created Section 2-7 of the City Code of Ordinances, expanding the scope of the existing Fraud Hotline to also address ethical concerns, and renamed said hotline to the Ethics and Fraud Hotline. The ordinance instructs the City Ethics Officer to formulate the necessary procedures and policies to govern the effective management of said hotline.
- Created Section 2-8 of the City Code of Ordinances requiring that, in addition to the standard Form-1 financial disclosure form required by state statute, Elected Officials must disclose additional information relative to:
The definition of "business relationships" as contained in the Florida Ethics Commission's Form-6 will be utilized.
- Business relationships with City vendors.
- Business relationships with City employees.
- Membership on corporate and not-for-profit boards.
- Land Ownership (in any form, whether located in Florida or another jurisdiction).
Completed disclosure forms are currently in the custody of the Leon County Supervisor of Elections.
- Created Section 2-10 of the City Code of Ordinances, expanding the disclosure requirements contained in section 706.06(D) of the City's Personnel Policies & Procedures Manual relating to disclosing offers of employment extended by City vendors shall also apply to the elected City Commissioners.
- Created Section 2-11 of the City Code of Ordinances, mandating Elected Officials to abstain from voting if, under a duty of "reasonable inquiry," the Official knew or should likely have known that the measure would inure to his or her special private gain or loss. This new requirement would also contain procedures outlining when a conflict must be orally announced during an open meeting, when a voting abstention would be necessary and if the official must leave the meeting Chambers during discussion of such matters, and provisions for the City Commission to censure any official who commits a clear violation of said regulations.
- Created Section 2-12 of the City Code of Ordinances, requiring:
- Elected Officials participate in an initial comprehensive ethics training course within 60 days of taking office, with refresher ethics training conducted on an annual basis thereafter, with documentation of course completion filed in the official's personnel file. Training for officials and their aides (when applicable) on voting conflicts, gift ban statutes, campaign contribution limits, and restrictions on campaigning within government buildings. In addition, ethics training will be offered to candidates seeking election to the City Commission;
- City employees complete an in-depth ethics training course within 180 days employment and then every 3 years thereafter, with at least a 1-hour refresher ethics course during those years in which employees are not required to attend an in-depth course. Supervisors, senior managers, and executives/appointed officials will be required to complete additional targeted or level-appropriate ethics training;
- Members of quasi-judicial and other citizen-staffed advisory boards and advisory committees complete annual ethics training, with quasi-judicial board members undergoing additional training commiserate with their decision-making capacity. When possible, web-based training will be utilized; and
- The City Ethics Officer to include an evaluation and report on the effectiveness of these training programs as part of the annual ethics report presented to the City Commission. In addition, data collected via this evaluation, feedback from training attendees, and data collected by the Ethics and Fraud Hotline will be used to improve future training course content.
- Created Section 2-9 of the City Code of Ordinances, enacting additional disclosure requirements for lobbying firms engaged to lobby at the state or federal level on behalf of the City of Tallahassee. Such firms will be required to disclose - on a continuing basis - a complete list of their clients. In addition, should a conflict of interest be identified, the City will implement procedures whereby the City may waive any such conflict. Furthermore, information concerning the City's lobbyists will be made available on the www.talgov.com website.
- Amended Section 2-344 of the City Code of Ordinances (Lobbyist Regulations) to:
- Require the City Ethics Officer monitor lobbying firms who lobby the City government to ensure these firms' compliance with the lobbying ordinance, with the results of the monitoring effort being included in the annual ethics report. In addition, if non-compliance is discovered, procedures will provide for suspension of lobbyists until compliance is attained, and the City Commission will be alerted to any instances of non-compliance. Enacted penalties for intentional violations of the lobbyist regulations.
- Prohibit Appointed Officials from appearing before the City Commission for compensation for a 2-year period after the appointed official leaves the employ of the City.
- Created Section 2-6 of the City Code of Ordinances, establishing a 5-member Ethics Citizens' Advisory Committee to monitor the implementation of the adopted ethics enhancements and to present a report to the City Commission at the conclusion of one year. The committee will be staffed by the City Ethics Officer.
The City of Tallahassee Ethics Board was created in accordance with voters' approval of a City Charter amendment during the November, 2014 general election.