making local government more ethical
The Politicization of Officials Selecting Ethics Commission Members
People should not be political footballs, and ethics commission members even moreso. But that's what can happen when officials are allowed to select ethics commission members. According to an article in yesterday's Tulsa World, an ethics advisory committee member who asked that the mayor be investigated by the committee reached the end of his term some time ago. The mayor wants to replace him, and the council wants to keep him. So the mayor nominates, and the council turns the nominees down. And both accuse the other of infantilism.

In her comment to my blog post on a Michigan recusal matter, Catherine Mullhaupt of the Michigan Townships Association not only pointed out the effect of a women's property rights act on local government conflict of interest law (see my blog post on this), but also pointed out a Michigan law (42.7(6)) that requires charter township board members to vote, except on a vote to appoint oneself to a township office. Only a unanimous vote of the board can allow a board member to abstain.

The New York City Conflicts of Interest Board (COIB) recently issued an advisory opinion (attached, see below) on the subject of conflicts involving city council discretionary funds, a topic I wrote about last year. This is a model advisory opinion, especially in the way it provides a number of scenarios to which it applies the city's relevant ethics provisions. The opinion goes beyond any single request for advice to provide advice for as great a range of possible situations as the staff could imagine.

A report worth reading was recently published by the OECD: Self-Regulation and Regulation of the Lobbying Profession. Its focus on European countries provides a valuable complement to American lobbying regulation. Below is a condensed version of the report's executive summary:

Over the last two days, a new-fangled local government ethics controversy has taken Ohio by storm:  allowing counties to sell advertising on their websites. A law to that effect has been inserted in the pending state budget bill, according to an Associated Press article.

According to an Associated Press article yesterday, the Oklahoma Ethics Commission recommended a rule change that would get rid of the gag rule on people who file ethics complaints. The cause of the rule change is two suits filed against the EC, challenging the gag rule. The suits were filed on freedom of speech grounds. See my recent blog post for more on freedom of speech issues relating to confidentiality rules in ethics proceedings.