making local government more ethical
Electing local government employees to local government office can cause problems. There are constitutional protections against forbidding it, but there are conflict of interest arguments against doing it.

According to an article in today's Southtown Star, in Chicago Heights (IL) a group of ministers has filed a suit seeking an injunction against two city council members voting to replace a mayor who has resigned. The reason for their suit is that a candidate to replace the mayor is the superintendent of the city's Park District, and the two council members work for the Park District, as does one of their sons. In other words, they are in a position to vote for or against their boss.

Watch this very cool video on corruption:
How often should ethics commissions meet?

The usual answer to that question is, As often as they need to. But how often is that?

Most of the Illinois Reform Commission's report, which was published yesterday, has little to do with local government ethics, but there is enough overlap to make it worth skimming through. The IRC was charged with recommending changes in the state's ethics and campaign finance programs.

Of special interest is the section entitled Inspiring Better Government (p. 73 of report, p. 79 of PDF file), including the idea of a patronage monitor and a proposal to prevent state workers from making campaign contributions to statewide candidates (pp 78-79, PDF pp. 84-85).

For a quick summary of the report's recommendations, see this Chicago Tribune article.

Throughout the Internet, there is interest in what is most popular, what is most viewed and linked to. So below is a list of the top 20 of my blog posts from 2008 and 2009 in terms of having had the most hits.

Later, I'll do the top 20 from the earlier years, which have had more time to accumulate hits.

Local government officials often defend halfway ethics reforms by saying that they're just the beginning, and that something is better than nothing. But halfway reforms are often effectively little more than nothing, especially in the area of enforcement. "Window dressing" is one term for such reforms. "Paper tiger" is another.