making local government more ethical

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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,...

Robert Wechsler

Lee Drutman’s The Business of America is Lobbying: How Corporations Became Politicized and Politics Became More Corporate (2015) is an excellent book about corporate lobbying at the federal level. Drutman is especially good on the reasons for the growth of this lobbying, particularly the reasons why this lobbying is “sticky.” Since corporations and their associations...

Robert Wechsler
Last week, Edward B. Foley, who directs Election Law @ Moritz, Ohio State's law school, put online the draft of a paper entitled "Voters as Fiduciaries." The paper makes the argument that voters should not be voting their personal interests, but should instead be expressing their best judgment of what is in the public interest, including the interest of future generations.

An important...
Robert Wechsler

Anyone who follows my blog knows that my favorite city to write about is Vernon, CA, the "Dream Machine," a city with lots of industry and no one other than city employees who might complain about what's in their backyard, or call for oversight.

But Vernon is not the only city of its kind, not even in Los Angeles County. This week, the Los Angeles Times wrote...

Robert Wechsler

Philadelphia's Democratic mayoral primary this week brings the national focus on Super PACs to the local level. In that primary, which is the most important election in that Democratically-inclined city, most of the money that was spent was spent by Super PACs, not by candidates.

According to an article in the National Journal this week, the three...

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