making local government more ethical

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Robert Wechsler
It's official. According to an article in yesterday's Salt Lake City Tribune, a comprehensive ethics reform petition has been okayed for distribution, with the goal of placing it on the November 2010 ballot. That requires 95,000 signatures on a 21-page petition that is far from easy reading.

Robert Wechsler
A week ago I wrote a blog post about preferential treatment, emphasizing that the way to distinguish preferential treatment from ordinary decisions and transactions, where someone is commonly preferred over others, is by whether the treatment is fair and whether the regular process is followed.

Fairness is the principal issue in a preferential treatment question...
Robert Wechsler
One of the more interesting battles in the civil war among Maricopa County elected officials is the Battle of the Civil Division. When the county attorney indicted County Supervisor Don Stapley in December 2008, the board of supervisors decided to take away the county attorney's civil division and create a separate county civil law department.

The Conflict of Representing and Prosecuting Officials
The board's argument is that the county attorney ignored the conflict it...
Robert Wechsler
A central dispute in the first group of charges brought against Maricopa County Supervisor Don Stapley involved whether he was required to disclose properties held by a company he owned, as long as he listed the company among his assets. Stapley felt this was not required.

It is important to list an official's real-estate holdings in town, so that when issues arise affecting those holdings, the public can know whether he should have recused himself. In other words, such annual...
Robert Wechsler
Both times Maricopa County Supervisor Don Stapley has had criminal charges brought against him, the counts included perjury charges for omissions on disclosure forms (2008 charges, 2009 charges). Is this the best or even an...
Robert Wechsler
Michael J. Sandel's famous introduction to ethical philosophy course at Harvard University, Justice, is becoming available on video both online and on many PBS stations across the country (dates and times vary; in some areas, the segments have just begun running; the first two segments are available online). This course should provide...