Perfect example of citizens taking matters in to their own hands via the ballot initiative process.
Corruption will be easier to spot — and stop — in Florida’s capital city thanks to a one-of-a-kind referendum that the city’s voters approved last fall. The ballot initiative, intended to put the kibosh on any hint of local government corruption, puts Tallahassee at the forefront of ethics reform nationwide.
The first of its kind in any city in the U.S., the Tallahassee Ethics and Anti-Corruption Amendment allows the city to create an ethics code and establish an ethics board and office. The board will have broad power to monitor and squelch any unethical activity in the city’s government. The act also limits campaign contributions to $250 from any one individual to any one city commissioner’s election campaign.
The charter amendment came about when a group of community leaders in Florida decided they were fed up with widespread government corruption. They put aside their political differences to do something about the problem. A coalition of five area organizations crossing party lines worked together to draft the charter amendment.
The group quickly raised 20,000 signatures — double the requirement — to get the initiative put on the ballot. The Anti-Corruption Act was well received by voters, approved last November by a 2 to 1 margin.
Catherine Baer, chairwoman of the Tea Party Network and Co-Chair of the Citizens For Ethics Reform, attributed the group’s success in part to the fact that so many different organizations worked together to get the measure passed.
“Opponents had a hard time painting it far right or far left,” she said in a press release published on the CFER’s website. The amendment’s proponents included Common Cause of Florida, the local Tea Party Network, League of Women Voters of Tallahassee, Florida Alliance for Retired Americans and Represent.Us.
Ethics reform has become an issue for constituents on both ends of the political spectrum. No matter a person’s political leanings, many people believe that government corruption in the U.S. is hindering ordinary citizens’ ability to affect change at both local and national levels of government.
With Tallahassee taking the first step to stomping out government corruption, it’s safe to say that the eyes of the nation will be watching to see how well the initiative works. If the Act’s success continues as well as it started, ethics reform policies may begin sprouting up across the nation.