making local government more ethical

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Robert Wechsler

Local governments that lack a lobbying oversight program do not have to merely throw up their hands when a huge procurement matter arises. They have the choice to set rules for that matter which, if it works, may later be applied more generally.

This is the lesson that comes from the York, Ontario region which, according to a recent...

Robert Wechsler
When it comes to lobbying disclosure, local government agencies should lead the way. According to an article in the San Diego Reader, this is not the case with the San Diego Airport Authority, whose lobbying firm did not disclose any of the lobbying it did for the Authority in the first half of 2015.

According to the article, this summer the Authority...
Robert Wechsler

"At the end of the day, anybody could fall into a trap like I did."
— Former New York state senator Thomas W. Libous, after being sentenced to a $50,000 fine and probation for lying about the fact that he helped get his son a job with a local law firm and then arranged for a $50,000 payment to the law firm by a lobbying firm that represented clients with matters before him. It is rare for indirect pay to play to be prosecuted. It happened only because the senator lied about...
Robert Wechsler
The big news in local government ethics yesterday was the publication of the final report of Quebec's Charbonneau Commission, which investigated bid rigging in the Montreal area, involving not only government officials and contractors, but also the Mafia and Hells Angels (see my 2012 blog post on the investigation).

The bad news is that...
Robert Wechsler
A Portland, OR mayoral candidate made an interesting pledge in September, according to an article in the Portland Tribune:

I will not permit any individual who was a paid member of my campaign or my mayoral staff to lobby me or my office on behalf of a private entity. This prohibition will extend through my full four-year term...
Robert Wechsler
“If you hold a tiger by the tail, you have a difficult choice to make: Do you let go or not? It’s not a good thing to alienate any legislative leader.”

—Richard Runes, lobbyist for Glenwood Management, a large New York state real estate developer that allegedly gave tax work to a law firm that then made undisclosed payments to the state's Assembly Speaker, who had allegedly recommended the law firm. The quote refers to continuing the use of this law firm, knowing that if it...

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