Ithaca alderperson seeks ethics investigation into former Mayor Svante Myrick

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Alderperson Cynthia Brock alleged the former mayor had improperly accepted money and services in support of the Reimagining Public Safety effort. (Celia Clarke/WSKG)

ITHACA, NY (WSKG) — Ithaca Alderperson Cynthia Brock said she is working with Tompkins County to open an ethics investigation into former Mayor Svante Myrick. 

Brock said it’s a conflict of interest that Myrick began working as the director of the progressive think tank, People For the American Way, before he stepped down as mayor. Myrick has held a leadership role with the think tank since 2017.

“During a period of time when he was serving in both roles, he was raising funds for lobbying in support of Reimagining Public Safety  — the very legislation he presented to us, as mayor, to consider,” Brock said.

Brock made the remarks during a Common Council committee meeting Wednesday. She said she’s working with the Tompkins County Ethics Board to open an investigation into the former mayor. 

Brock has been critical of what she said is a lack of transparency within the Reimagining Public Safety project. In an op-ed published earlier this month, Brock criticized the former mayor and his handling of the police reform effort. 

Brock said she has also asked the county to investigate Myrick for an arrangement to compensate Reimaging Public Safety co-leads Karen Yearwood and Eric Rosario. Brock said that money shouldn’t have been promised without approval from the Common Council.

“I don’t think that we should be rewarding individuals who have intentionally bypassed our rules and regulations and then upholding their ill intent by approving the payment,” Brock said, though she later walked back that criticism.

At the meeting, alderpersons voted down a bill that would compensate co-leads Yearwood and Rosario $10,000 each for their work on the reform project.

Alderperson Robert Cantelmo said Yearwood and Rosario had improperly accepted donations from a third party, Center for Policing Equity. The funds were allegedly used to compensate members of the Reimagining Public Safety working group for their work over the past two years.

“The Council has learned that members of the working group, including the co-leads, were paid by a third-party organization,” Cantelmo said. “And in my reading, this is a violation of city policy under our ethics regulation.”

Ducson Nguyen was the lone committee member to vote in favor of compensating Yearwood and Rosario.

“For better or worse, the city as an entity, previously headed by another executive, made a commitment that I feel is important to maintain,” Nguyen said.