making local government more ethical

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Robert Wechsler
Robert E. Goodin's book Manipulatory Politics (Yale Univ. Press, 1980) is valuable for its "cataloguing [of] various modes of political manipulation," as the author wrote in his Preface. Goodin found only a few of the cases "ethically worrisome," but the fact that I disagree does not make the catalog any less valuable.

Definitions
Goodin's definition of "manipulation" is "power...
Robert Wechsler
David A. Marcello, the Executive Director of the Public Law Center at Tulane University Law School in New Orleans, has been keeping close tabs on New Orleans' troubled ethics program. In 2011, he published a report on how Hurricane Katrina (2005) led New Orleans' officials to turn a moribund ethics program into one...
Robert Wechsler

Long ago, experts in philosophy, physics, and psychology recognized that reality and perception are not as different as people used to think. And yet people continue to think it. One area where they continue to think it is government ethics.

According to an article in the Stamford (CT) Advocate last week, during an ethics training class for...

Robert Wechsler

In an article on the deportation of Haitians from the Dominican Republic in yesterday's New York Times, a police officer agonizes over the prospect of having to deport his best friend, a Haitian immigrant. “I have no choice,” he is quoted as saying. “It saddens me to think about being ordered to detain someone I really care about. It will be hard not to...

Robert Wechsler

Last month, Jonathan Rauch published a sincere and well-written defense of political machines, entitled "Political Realism: How Hacks, Machines, Big Money, and Back-Room Deals Can Strengthen American Democracy" (Brooking Institution Press; available free as a PDF or e-book). Although the essay scarcely mentions conflicts of interest, gifts, nepotism, and the like, and it makes no mention at all of conflicts of...

Robert Wechsler

I was fortunate today to see an American film focused almost entirely on local government ethics. Although it is an excellent film, it has not been included in City Ethics' (but not my) Top Ten Ethics Films list or in any of the comments suggesting additions. The film is City of Hope (1991), written and directed by the great John Sayles,...

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