making local government more ethical

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Robert Wechsler
Eula Biss's excellent book On Immunity (Graywolf Press, 2014) is not about legislative immunity, but about immunity to diseases. And yet there is a great deal of food for thought in it about municipal ethics.

The first parallel can be seen in the "mun" in both "immunity" and "municipal." It comes from the same Latin word "munus," which means service or duty. Who knew that...
Robert Wechsler
What are the government ethics implications of private security when it goes beyond protecting specific businesses, malls, universities, and gated communities, becomes an adjunct to or replacement of an ordinary police force, and is done in conjunction with the public police force and, often, using off-duty public police officers?

Favoritism
One problem is that such private forces generally protect the most wealthy neighborhoods. Setting up a neighborhood force with the...
Robert Wechsler
Conflicts of interest are generally not seen to apply to local party committees. There are almost never limitations on membership or voting on such committees by local government employees, contractors, developers, grantees, or others seeking financial benefits from the government.

An article in today's New Haven (CT) Register...
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...

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