ITHACA, N.Y.—One of the two investigations into the Reimagining Public Safety (RPS) process has concluded, finding no ethical violations committed by City of Ithaca officials during the formulation of the report and its recommendations.

The internal investigation, conducted by Syracuse lawyer Kristen Smith and released Thursday, generated a detailed 60-page document which largely clears Ithaca officials past and present of any legal wrongdoing, with the exception of one pinpointed procedural violation regarding the acceptance of free services.   

But the report is not all roses for the city, as it also includes a slew of warnings and critiques about the crucial need for more transparency from city government and a recounting of missteps city officials made that, while not violations of the law, created enough uncertainty to hurt the public image of the process. A lack of clear communication on certain significant details also plagued the RPS process, the report shows, and, in the parlance of our times, caused enough smoke to make it seem like there was a fire in the form of ethical violations and undue influence. The report declares, though, that isn’t the case in the majority of instances with certain others found inconclusive.

The city’s internal investigation started over the summer and was running parallel to an investigation being led by the Tompkins County Ethics Advisory Board (TCEAB). It focused on the existence of payments to Working Group Co-Leads Eric Rosario and Karen Yearwood, the process by which those payments were discussed and approved and how the money for them was secured, and most crucially, whether or not those payments present ethical violations either on the part of city officials or that would taint the findings of the RPS document. 

It consisted of “a review [of] countless documents, hundreds of emails, and numerous interviews with individuals involved in the RPS process.” Documents disclosed during the TCEAB’s separate investigation were used to supplement evidence gathered during the internal investigation.

There have been varied reactions from the different parties at the center of the investigation. Former Mayor Svante Myrick has declared victory and a full exoneration—”Definitive conclusion: No actual influence or conflict of interest from outside groups,” he stated in a press release issued shortly after the report was released. Mayor-elect Laura Lewis touted the findings in her own announcement, though she also indicated she would be bringing transparency reforms to Common Council in 2023. 

Myrick points out several passages in the report that explicitly state that the investigation did not find actual outside influence or ethics violations: “Even if the [Center for Policing Equity] had an impact on the actual outcome of the Working Group, this does not necessarily mean there was anything unethical about their involvement,” and “There were no code of ethics violations by the Working Group co-leads Eric Rosario, Karen Yearwood, and other non-City employee members of the Working Group who received modest payments in exchange for their service,” for two examples.  

Meanwhile, Alderperson Cynthia Brock, who spurred the investigations at the city and county level, said the report shows that a lack of transparency plagued the Reimagining process from the beginning and claims that the report vindicates her fundamental issues. 

There are parts of the report that are clear and explicit, perhaps the most salient being that Smith did not find any outside influence from third parties on the Reimagining Public Safety outcomes. That is among a bullet-point enumerated list of questions Smith sought to answer, each of which found no tangible ethical violations according to the letter of the law. 

There are other parts, though, where the report sternly admonishes Myrick and other city officials for either sloppy work and a resulting lack of transparency to the public, regardless of whether that was the intent of their actions or not—but not ethical violations. To boil it down, Smith found that the actions opened the door for potential outside influence, but the report maintains that there is no evidence that outside influence actually came to bear or had an impact on the outcomes and recommendations. 

“It is important to reiterate here, that with respect to the outside influence of funders (Park Foundation, CTA and DCI) and consultants (CPE, Matrix Consulting and Understory), the investigation did not identify specific actual influence on the process or its outcomes,” Smith writes in her conclusion. “Rather, the investigation revealed that the potential for influence existed in several ways, due mainly to the lack of transparency surrounding the involvement of all these external organizations in this local reform effort. Similarly, the investigation did not reveal an actual conflict of interest based on PFAW’s role, but a lack of judgment and transparency.”

Rachel Leon, the executive director of the Park Foundation, issued a statement reiterating that Park’s providing of funding was because they deemed the effort a cause worthy of funding, not because of any ulterior motives. 

“There was no actual, potential or intended influence by the Park Foundation in the Re-Imagining Process (RPS) or outcomes,” Leon wrote in a statement. “No one at the Park Foundation had any part in generating the process and its outcomes, or in the identification and selection of the RPS working group participants.”

Brock seized upon the several instances of  “potential for influence,” mentioned frequently by Smith, as evidence that her charges were well-founded—even if they did not constitute an actual ethics violation, as Smith found.  

“The report highlights glaring gaps in City communication and documentation, an alarming lack of internal discussion or review, and contradictory testimonies,” Brock wrote in a comment to The Ithaca Voice. “Testimony provided by staff and those involved demonstrates a pattern of behavior by Myrick that consistently and successfully avoided nearly all of the procedural triggers that initiate the typical checks and balances of Common Council to review the unusual processes Myrick put into play.”

Overall, Brock argued that the evidence in the Smith report should be heavily considered when answering her central question (namely, can the Reimagining Public Safety report be categorized as impartial and unbiased?)—Brock contends that the investigation presents enough evidence to show that the answer to that question is “No,” though opinions will undoubtedly vary on that point.

Brock added that she believes additional information from the ongoing TCEAB investigation will prove helpful as well.

“I believe that the City’s report, along with TCEAB’s final report will provide a more complete picture and understanding of not only how we got here, but also what policy changes are needed to ensure open and transparent gifting, consulting, and working group processes in the future,” she said.

Money Missteps

This section of the investigative report largely covers information that was already known to the public or has been previously reported, but does lend some more context to the behind-the-scenes workings of how the payments reached Rosario and Yearwood, who are portrayed as basically blameless in the scenario since much of the confusion stemmed from the interactions between higher city officials and outside parties involved in providing the funding. 

The report makes a point to criticize the city’s processes in this instance, flatly stating that proper processes were not utilized to ensure that public officials, including Common Council, knew outside funding was being used to compensate Working Group members, damaging transparency. Still, though, while the appearance of potential influence existed, no actual influence was found; it’s one of several times throughout the report that rather critical differentiation is made. 

“On balance, however, the investigation did not identify or uncover any actual influence by the organizations who funded the Working Group stipends,” Smith writes. “But again, this conclusion is made without being able to speak to (and frankly, read the minds of) those who received the funding. The inability to determine if there was actual influence underscores why state and local law prohibit practices that present any potential appearance or possibility of influence.” 

The report also blames Director of Human Resources Schelley Michell-Nunn for not looping enough people into her efforts to find grant funding for the RPS payments, namely City Attorney Ari Lavine, to gauge the ethics and legal implications of receiving the funding. Again, though, no ethics violations were found on her part.

“Working Group participants—especially the Co-Leads—were given a weighty and important advisory role to make recommendations to elected officials, who in turn were entrusted with the authority [to] make important decisions regarding the future of the City’s public safety function,” Smith said. “Those elected officials, whose role it was to review and potentially adopt the Working Group’s recommendations, (i.e., those in the executive and legislative branches of government) should have been fully aware of, and given an opportunity to weigh in on, whether, how and from whom they would be compensated.”

Smith calls it “extremely significant” that Rosario and Yearwood signed a contract with the Center for Transformative Action (CTA), again creating the optics that they were working for CTA while leading the city’s program, and that as a result CTA technically owns that work product. However, she also allows that both Rosario and Yearwood may have thought the contract was a formality to receive their compensation, and even extends that same latitude to CTA itself.

Here is another example of when actions created the “potential of influence” in the process, even while Smith still found no actual, tangible influence, neither in the evidence collected or in interviews with two of the Working Group participants, Yasmin Abdur-Rashid and Karl Lewis, who both said they felt no influence on them and that they had agreed to participate before the payments were ever discussed or presented. The Park Foundation, Center for Transformative Action and Dorothy Cotton Institute, the local groups involved in the funding and grant distribution, all insisted there was no intention to influence the outcomes and no influence ever exerted either, as shown in Leon’s earlier comment. 

The report dives deeply into the process behind how those payments were found, pursued, secured and distributed, starting at the beginning of the Working Group’s formation. Myrick made an “unwritten agreement” with Rosario in spring 2021 to compensate him with $20,000 for his work leading the RPS effort—Yearwood soon joined the effort as co-leader with Rosario, and her work was to be compensated the same. The report states that Myrick expected the money to come from the City of Ithaca, a statement corroborated by Lavine, and a task which Myrick delegated to Michell-Nunn. 

Around May 2021, Michell-Nunn appeared to be preparing a contract for Rosario (Yearwood had not been named as a co-leader at that point) according to emails reviewed by the investigator Smith, which would have meant the contract would have been a city agreement, thus using city funds and resulting in a city approval process. But the contract formulation appears to have stopped there.  

“Given that it would be highly unusual for the mayor himself (or his office) to prepare a contract for payment to an independent contractor, the investigator concludes that it was Michell-Nunn’s oversight that led to the failure to follow through and process a contract for Rosario’s and Yearwood’s consulting services at the time they were retained in May and July 2021, respectively,” the investigation states. “Had the contract been initiated at this time, it would have triggered a review by City leaders (including the City Attorney, City controller, and at a minimum, the chair of the council’s City Administration Committee) prior to the work being performed.” 

Smith said that Myrick maintained in interviews, as he has since the complaints were initially made, that the money would be coming from the Park Foundation via a grant award applied for on behalf of the city, which the city would then redirect to the Working Group co-leads ($10,000 each, with an additional $10,000 match planned from the City of Ithaca’s own money) and the working group members and subcommittee members ($2,000 and $500 each, respectively). Myrick did inform Common Council, in a June 2021 email, that he was “pursuing private philanthropic dollars” to generate a budget to compensate the Working Group members but was not more specific than that. The report does state that the Alderpersons who were involved in the Working Group, namely George McGonigal, now-Mayor-elect Laura Lewis and Ducson Nguyen, were only vaguely aware of the funding while others were “completely in the dark.” 

Part of that issue has been highlighted in fits over the last several months. Myrick has said that he believed he had administrative authority to unilaterally spend discretionary funds under $30,000, though that has been contradicted by City Controller Steve Thayer during a Common Council meeting last month. 

From the report: “Although Lavine and Thayer approved the payments because of the $800,000 budgeted for the RPS Process, it was later determined that this amount was budgeted for joint City-County initiatives, which the Working Group was not. Thus, the money would need to come from another budget line for RPS, which was a restricted contingency account. Under the City’s processes, payments from a restricted contingency account require full Common Council approval.”

City of Ithaca Alderperson Cynthia Brock watches the first meeting of the Tompkins County Ethics Advisory Board. Brock brought forward request for investigation into the Reimagining Public Safety process on April 12. (06/07/2022) Credit: Casey Martin / The Ithaca Voice

An “administrative lapse”

From this process, though, comes one of the lynchpin issues of the entire complaint: that the money from the grant was sent directly to the Working Group members as opposed to going to the city first and then distributed to members—something Myrick called “a mistake” and an “administrative lapse,” according to the report. The latter process would be the traditional way grant money is distributed for city programs and provide a more transparent process, since that money’s distribution would have been voted on by a city body, likely Common Council or the City Administration Committee. The city frequently applies for grant funding from Park, with the Ithaca Green New Deal used as one example, but normally the funds would go to the city first and then the actual intended recipients. 

When the city’s half of the payments were moving through city government, they were flagged by City Administration Committee Chair Robert Cantelmo, which then led to the uncovering of the payments to the Working Group members and participants—Lavine, who learned of the payments in March 2022, then sent a letter requesting the payments be returned to avoid an ethics violation in May 2022, after they became public, according to Smith’s report. It is unclear if the payments were actually returned. 

Rosario and Yearwood refused interviews, referring Smith to the submissions they had already turned over to the Ethics Advisory Board to be used as their answers. County employees were not made available to the internal investigation until after the TCEAB investigation concludes, which Smith said would have been too long to wait for the city’s investigation to finish in a “reasonable timeframe,” so none were interviewed. The Center for Policing Equity (CPE) wholly declined to participate, meaning former Tompkins County Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Deanna Carrithers was not interviewed despite her involvement in RPS, as she has moved on to a job with CPE. 

Another major question the investigation sought to answer was whether or not those involved with the Working Group were city officials, and thus had to adhere to the city’s code of ethics. Smith remarked that “it is a close question,” in part complicated by the vagueness and broadness of the city’s ethics code, but that a review of the wider city code points to the Working Group members not qualifying as “city officials,” and state law corroborates that point. 

Smith found that since the members merely offered recommendations as opposed to exercising any true powers, like those someone in elected office or employed by the city would have, they did not meet the criteria of “city officials.” Thus, in the report, Rosario and Yearwood, along with all other Working Group members and participants are cleared of wrongdoing since they were not considered city officials.

The role of outside consultants

The Center for Policing Equity (CPE), a national nonprofit focused on reforming law enforcement agencies in the interest of social and racial equity, played a central role in Ithaca’s Reimagining Public Safety plan, but would come under scrutiny when Alderperson Brock revealed in April 2022 the sweeping ethics complaint she had submitted to the TCEAB.

The role of CPE was presented as a facilitator and “thought partner” in Ithaca and Tompkins County’s RPS initiative but, through her complaint, Brock would bring to question the potential for CPE to influence Ithaca’s reform efforts in accord with its own agenda — a degree of scrutiny which had little to no traction prior.

CPE, which began to work with the City of Ithaca in Aug. 2020 until formally parting ways in June 2022, donated all of its services free of charge. Smith’s investigation did not produce any evidence to the contrary. 

Brock specifically requested that the TCEAB investigate if the city had properly followed state and city procurement laws when it accepted the services of CPE, and if the organization had played a larger undisclosed role in Ithaca’s RPS initiative. The potential for an agenda to be exercised on the part of CPE would largely be motivated by increasing its status and boosting off the national attention that Ithaca’s RPS effort had gained. 

Through her investigation, Smith concluded that there wasn’t “anything unethical” about CPE’s involvement in Ithaca’s RPS process. But the investigation offers this conclusion: “In the end, the critical misstep with the use of a consultant like CPE was the process around it — specifically, the darkness under which their work was arranged and completed.”

CPE began its work with the City of Ithaca at the discretion of former Mayor Myrick, who first opened communication with the organization in July 2020, Smith writes. The decision by Myrick to formally engage CPE without approval from Common Council “exceeded his authority under the [City] Charter by unilaterally accepting the services” of CPE.

Under the City Charter, the appropriate body to accept the gift of donated services, the investigation concluded, was Ithaca’s Common Council.

CPE initially became involved with the city and Tompkins County to facilitate the research and community engagement efforts that resulted in the Reimagining Public Safety Report which outlined 19 recommendations for the municipalities to pursue public safety reform, the first and most controversial of which was to replace the City of Ithaca’s Police Department with a Department of Community Safety, retaining police officers but installing a civilian leader and adding a small team of unarmed Community Solutions Officers. Myrick personally secured that this recommendation was in the report, wrote Smith. 

The plan was unanimously approved by the Common Council on March 31, 2021, but the first recommendation would catch Ithaca’s Common Council by surprise. Smith attributes this sentiment to a statement made by Alderperson George McGonigal, though without a direct quote. Initial public reactions to the plan reflect that feeling.

Former Mayor Svante Myrick, pictured in summer 2019. (Photo by Dominick Recckio)

An article published online in GQ Magazine simultaneously as the release of the RPS Report would become the City of Ithaca’s first education on the reform efforts, which had largely been kept under wraps in the drafting process. 

The resulting confusion from that spectacle would move Myrick to write a letter apologizing to Common Counci and IPD for the timing and presentation of the article. The report references the now infamous GQ article, but does not delve into how it may or may not have impacted the community’s perception of Ithaca’s RPS initiative, though it does credit the article with showing Myrick’s investment in championing the policy on a national stage before any outside parties were involved. 

Additionally, the report was published without an author at the time of its release in February 2021. Smith wrote that she was told by the City of Ithaca Human Resource Director Shelley Michell-Nunn that Michell-Nunn drafted the report along with county Communications Director Dominick Recckio, and former county Chief Equity and Diversity Officer Carrithers. Carrithers is now employed by CPE.

The first recommendation to replace the City of Ithaca’s police department would result in a task force being formed to flesh out the ambitious goal. The group would look at call type delineation, and structure the department among other tasks. 

CPE’s participation in the first phase of Ithaca’s RPS initiative would motivate Myrick to push for their involvement in the working group’s process of redesigning Ithaca’s public safety department. A memo drafted by Myrick, former Tompkins County Administrator Jason Molino in April 2021 would be sent to CPE to formally request the organization’s assistance on nine different projects under the RPS initiative. A scope of work agreement would be presented to Myrick in May 2021 by CPE, which he would sign and return in June 2021.

The members of Ithaca’s Common Council that Smith interviewed, she wrote, did not recall receiving the April memo, or the scope of work Myrick signed with CPE. Smith wrote that Myrick also admitted to not having notified City Attorney Ari Lavine or City Controller Steve Thayer, which is highly atypical. 

At the time the members of the working group were announced, Myrick said that he personally selected its members. The group included police officers, Common Council members, students, members of Ithaca’s Black community as well as individuals from the broader community. The group’s meetings were not public, which has been explained through a need to create a space where private citizens and officials could have difficult conversations openly. But it also lent itself to an air of opacity. 

“A major driver of the suspicion around CPE’s role and motivation can be traced directly to a lack of transparency,” Smith determined.

“Diverging observations” — Center for Policing Equity’s controversial role in guidance

Brock’s complaint, which asked for the TCEAB to investigate if there was an undisclosed role of CPE, would cite as one piece of supporting evidence for this question a weekly project management meeting between city and county officials, and CPE employees. 

The weekly project management meetings had not been mentioned to the larger public, but more importantly, they were not known to Ithaca’s Common Council. The composition of the weekly meetings, which Brock discovered by accidentally being invited to attend one remotely, contained more CPE officials than either the city or the county.

The report states that, for the City of Ithaca, consistent attendees of the twice weekly management meetings included outgoing Chief of Staff Faith Vavra, Public Information Specialist Melody Faraday, and Michell-Nunn. Myrick is also stated to have frequently attended. Representing the county were Recckio and Carrithers. The co-leads of the working group, Rosario and Yearwood, were also in regular attendance. 

In comparison, CPE usually had between six and eight participants at these meetings, Smith wrote, and the “content and direction of these management meetings were driven by CPE.” However, the investigation is “inconclusive” on whether CPE’s participation actually influenced the results of the working group, or whether the group would have reached those same policy outcomes independently. 

But was there potential for influence? “The answer to this question is resoundingly yes,” wrote Smith.

Smith wrote that CPE “expressed a strong desire from the beginning” of the management working group’s meetings to “maintain strict confidentiality.” The organization requested that everyone in the group sign non-disclosure agreements. But the investigation reports that there was resistance to this idea from the city. Instead an informal request of confidentiality was pushed for by the working group co-lead Rosario among others. CPE would continue to ask for an NDA as late as October 2022, wrote Smith—about six months into the project. 

The meeting agendas were prepared by CPE as well as any other accompanying documents, though these, Smith notes, were adjusted based on input from city and county representatives. Rosario and Yearwood, the co-leads of the working group, were in charge of the meetings, and CPE was meant to follow their direction. Though the report details that, at one point during the summer of 2021, the two co-leads needed prodding by Michell-Nunn and Carrithers to feel “empowered to make decisions.”

Vavra is quoted in the report as saying she felt CPE’s large presence was “confusing” and “overwhelming.” She also expressed to Smith that if input from the city’s perspective didn’t sync with CPE’s, then they would involve Myrick to get his opinion on the matter.

Michell-Nunn is quoted saying she felt “frustrated” with the larger role CPE took in the production of the working group’s report compared to the role CPE maintained during  the production of the initial RPS draft report, which included facilitating community conversations among other jobs. 

Smith wrote that she was unable to interview Rosario and Yearwood, but referenced their submission to the TCEAB in which they stated that CPE “did not attempt to impose control” on the working group.

The perspectives that Smith included in her report from members of the working group reflected “diverging observations” about the level of control that CPE had over the production of the report. While unnamed members of the working group described CPE as filling a limited role, one unnamed group member described the process as “coloring within the lines of the CPE coloring book.”

Despite weighing in the input of local officials, Smith concluded that CPE’s various roles in the working group’s inevitably “drove the direction” of the process, though she stated that there also was a clear respect for local leadership, noting CPE’s deference to Myrick’s views.

CPE has maintained that its work with the City of Ithaca was a community led process, and that the “accusations that it unduly influenced Ithaca’s RPS process are disrespectful and wildly off-base.”

“Boots on the Ground” – Involvement of People for the American Way

This portion of the report focuses on the impact that the People for the American Way had on the RPS process. As most who have followed this story know by now, Myrick resigned in February 2022 to take a job as executive director of People for the American Way, and was recently promoted to president and CEO, effective Jan. 1, 2023. In conversations about his departure, Smith found that Myrick said to Michell-Nunn that he would still aim to have “boots on the ground” through PFAW to help garner support for the RPS plan, from the public and politicians. 

Questions about the level of PFAW’s involvement in RPS began to bubble up when the group Ithacans for Reimagining Public Safety became more visible, running op-eds in local publications written by Alana Byrd, the group’s campaign manager. It was soon revealed that Ithacans for Reimagining Public Safety was a group of organizers employed by People for the American Way.  

The ethical questions of this involvement were clearly being noticed in city government before Myrick stepped down. Myrick consulted with Lavine in August 2021 about the legality of using his position with PFAW to fundraise in order to “support outside advocacy for local policy issues in Ithaca,” basically doing his PFAW job as he normally would but this time focusing on Ithaca, where he was still serving as mayor. 

Lavine essentially told Myrick that while the move would be legal as long as his compensation at PFAW was not directly impacted, he did say that the optics of the arrangement would be “not great” and warned that Myrick should not allow PFAW to donate directly to the city; that he should not accept PFAW funding into his campaign account; and to tell those involved in RPS what PFAW’s involvement would be. According to the report, the last piece of Lavine’s advice just listed was not followed, creating another instance of lapsed transparency. 

Byrd, for her part, wasn’t exactly keeping anything secret from Common Council. The report states she sent emails to several Alderpersons asking to discuss RPS in January 2022, identifying herself as “running People for the American Way’s campaign to get the Reimagining Public Safety referendum passed in November, working closely with Svante to garner public support and popular opinion on the plan.” However, she did not readily disclose the PFAW connection in other instances, such as when her opinion piece was published in media outlets in Ithaca in the following months—and while a referendum on certain aspects of the Reimagining plan is still possible at some point, it did not happen in November. 

Myrick’s primary defense on this point is that he was pushing his own policies which he believed to be in the best public interest of the city, not being used as a tool or interloper to push policies that had been developed by PFAW. 

“In Myrick’s view, since there was complete policy alignment between what he, as the elected official, saw as the ‘public interest,’ i.e., the RPS recommendations, and what PFAW was investing its resources in supporting, there was no conflict at all,” Smith writes in the report. “The investigation corroborated Myrick’s statement that the RPS initiatives were his own mayoral policies. He championed these ideals in Ithaca, and even on a national stage (in ways such as the GQ article), well before PFAW became involved.” 

Tompkins County Legislator Rich John, Chair of the Tompkins County Ethics Advisory Board (06/08/2022). Credit: Casey Martin / The Ithaca Voice

Yet once again, as has been a theme throughout the report, the lack of an ethics violation does not mitigate the lack of transparency. 

“One cannot deny that Myrick’s decision not to disclose PFAW’s involvement was in poor judgment,” Smith wrote. “Even if the code did not technically require disclosure, Myrick violated the spirit of the code and the public trust by not openly sharing information related to PFAW’s campaign. […] By failing to alert Common Council or any other local officials about PFAW’s campaign, Myrick created a situation where confusion, mistrust and suspicion were inevitable. All of this could have been easily averted if he had been transparent from the start.” 

Going Forward

The report does allow for each side to claim some moral victories, though the explicit findings are that no ethical violations occurred, though the opportunity for them to occur certainly existed.

Smith wrote in her conclusion, “It is hoped that this report will provide constructive information to allow the city to consider procedural controls to minimize the likelihood that similar procedural and ethical missteps will occur in connection with future policy initiatives.” 

In her announcement following the investigation’s release, Lewis proposed two reforms that she will be seeking to advance through Common Council in 2023 that are directly related to the investigation and the confusion that provoked it. The city will be “developing and adopting a policy and process for identifying when participants in ad-hoc committees and working groups qualify as City officials, thus clearly notifying them of that status and of their resulting inability to receive third-party payments in connection with their service to the city,” as well as “revising and updating the City’s Gifting and Solicitation Policy in alignment with Common Council’s objectives regarding a process for accepting donated services.” 

Brock said the report shows that Myrick’s actions “divided a community” and said the report gives credence to those who have questioned the process.

“Myrick’s actions worked to avoid and delay every step when internal checks and balances or Council review would have been appropriate,” she said. “These actions, while they served to fill Myrick’s personal policy goals and not his pocketbook—thus avoiding violation of ethics rules and regulations—came at the expense of the integrity of the City. It takes decades to build the public’s faith in government systems, and mere moments to destroy it.”

Lewis also offered some oblique but harsh words for the motivations of the allegations themselves, though she did not explicitly name Brock in the statement. There has long been sentiment among Reimagining supporters in the city that Brock’s allegations were borne out of an opposition to the actual Reimagining recommended reforms, though Brock has maintained that she supports the reforms but not the process under which they were created. 

“Finally, it is an unfortunate reality that the allegations that were raised—important as they were in substance—came close to, but ultimately failed, to scuttle reimagining public safety in Ithaca,” Lewis wrote. “I encourage, and look forward to, the recommendations of Common Council’s Reimagining Public Safety Special Committee. Once adopted by Council, these recommendations will hopefully come to life under the leadership of our very first civilian Deputy Chief of Staff for Public Safety, and our first cadre of civilian first responders.”

The community now awaits the conclusion of the TCEAB’s investigation, though there remains no timeline for that to occur and the situation, other than hundreds of document disclosures, has stayed largely shrouded behind closed doors in terms of who is being interviewed and what matters are being specifically focused on.

Matt Butler

Matt Butler is the Managing Editor at the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached by email at

Jimmy Jordan

Jimmy Jordan is a general assignment reporter for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact him at Connect with him on Twitter @jmmy_jrdn