ITHACA, N.Y.—The Tompkins County Ethics Advisory Board’s investigation into the City of Ithaca’s Reimagining Public Safety process appears primed for a resolution soon, with a draft report now completed and in the hands of board members for review.

The Ethics Advisory Board (TCEAB) will hold another meeting at 8 a.m. on April 17. At that time, the board is expected to release and discuss the report that it has spent several months formulating via interviews, documents and more.

There was some thought that the board would discuss and release its report at its scheduled meeting Monday morning. Instead, the board followed what has become the routine for the last several months: a brief introduction, approving minutes of the previous meeting, then heading into executive session before discussing anything of substance. The board emerged after about 30 minutes. 

“We have some homework to do in considering this draft that has been put before us,” said TCEAB Chair Rich John. “We anticipate considering and voting on this draft, or a draft, at that time. We want a chance to fully review it and consider it before putting it up for a vote.”

Since so much of the investigation has played out behind closed doors, it has been difficult to gauge how much information has been gathered or even the breadth of the EAB’s requests of local officials. What is public, though, shows a contentious dynamic between city and county officials that has occasionally spilled into public view.

The investigation has lasted nearly a year, initiated by Ithaca Alderperson Cynthia Brock. Brock came forward with a list of allegations about potential ethics violations perpetrated during the law enforcement reform process, which then formed the basis for an internal investigation by the City of Ithaca and the Ethics Advisory Board. The city’s investigation has already concluded, and no legal wrongdoing was found.

At last update, city officials had not officially agreed to participate in the investigation, with City Attorney Ari Lavine repeatedly insisting that at least some of what the EAB was attempting to investigate was outside of its purview. Further, Lavine and former Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick, both of whom are included as subjects of the Reimagining ethics investigation, have called on John to step away from the investigation over his involvement in Brock’s April 2022 op-ed in The Ithaca Voice that relayed some of her concerns over payments made to leaders of the RPS process (among other issues raised). A Freedom of Information Law request revealed that John had contributed significant edits to the piece before it was submitted for publication.

“The steps taken (or not) can be expected to affect, among other things, the extent of the city’s continued cooperation with the Board’s investigation, including producing officials for any interviews by the board,” Lavine said.

John has rejected those requests to recuse himself, arguing that his editing of the op-ed does not constitute a conflict of interest. He has continued to lead the TCEAB’s meetings despite the allegations.

The Ithaca Voice is awaiting a response regarding whether or not city officials have participated in the investigation yet in the form of an interview before the TCEAB. Sources indicate that at least some city officials who were initially requested for TCEAB interviews have not been made available for interview. TCEAB legal counsel Paul Ferrara has previously stated that the city has not made Lavine, Mayor Laura Lewis, Alderperson Robert Cantelmo and others available for direct interviews with the advisory board.

Several requests for comment on the overall investigation and on any potential conflicts of interest for John have not been returned by the Office of the State Comptroller. Previously, a statement to The Ithaca Voice from Press Secretary Mark Johnson in October said the office had been monitoring the investigation to see if their involvement was necessary but had not officially entered the fray.

The disclosures page, meanwhile, has laid dormant since mid-December, when a final communication from Lavine was uploaded. That was the letter that contained the conflict of interest allegations against John and the request for John to step away from the investigation.

The Ithaca Voice’s Judy Lucas contributed reporting to this story.

Matt Butler

Matt Butler is the Editor in Chief at The Ithaca Voice. He can be reached by email at