making local government more ethical

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Robert Wechsler
Possibly the most valuable annual local government ethics resource was published this morning:  Patricia Salkin's 2009 Ethical Considerations in Land Use, a 28-page summary of reported cases and opinions on ethics matters in land use situations. The 2008 edition focused on wind farm ethics in New York (also see my two blog posts on this topic:...
Robert Wechsler
Can grades be evidence of a conflict of interest? This is what the Cook County prosecutor's office is effectively arguing, according to an article in the Chicago Tribune.

Northwestern University journalism students spent three years researching a criminal case, in which they believe that a man was wrongfully convicted. They presented a great deal of evidence to the prosecutor's...
Robert Wechsler

Updates: November 28, 2009 (see below, with December 23 correction)

When a local government official co-owns a company, is it enough to create a separate company owned solely by another co-owner to do business with the official's city?

According to an article in the Baton Rouge Advocate, this has become an issue in Lofourche Parish. The parish sheriff co-owns an ignition interlock device...
Robert Wechsler
An article on the Texas Watchdog website focuses on a serious loophole in the Texas gift disclosure policy, which applies to local government officials. Section 176.003(a-1) of the Local Government Code (Title 5, Subchapter C) states:
    A local government officer is not required to file a...
Robert Wechsler
It's always nice to see politicians provide evidence for the argument that ethics self-regulation doesn't work, but it's rare for it to happen in so public a way as occurred yesterday. According to an article in Roll Call, Rep. John Carter (R-TX), "the point man for Republicans seeking to strip Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) of his gavel," did not disclose large profits from a sale of Exxon stock, even after...
Robert Wechsler
Quote after Quote in Paris
Earlier this month the French president's son supplied me with a quote of the day. Now he has announced he will not pursue a job his father used to have, and he has supplied me with another quote of the day:
    If the question you are asking me is, ‘Did you talk to the president about [the government job]?’ No. Did I talk about that with my father? Yes.
In addition, the current...