making local government more ethical

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Robert Wechsler
“I think people should know right from wrong, and if folks are going to do something they’re not supposed to, they’re going to do it. If people are calling up commissioners at night on their personal cellphones, I have no idea about it. … If I knew something was going on, I would go directly to (County Attorney) David Escamilla.”
—Travis County, TX (Austin) Purchasing Agent Cyd Grimes. Travis County has no lobbying law.

“[El Paso County's lobbying law] puts ethical...
Robert Wechsler
Several of the women who accused Bill Cosby of sexual misconduct toward them have filed defamation suits, based on his conduct and, especially, on the conduct of his attorneys, who not only stated Cosby's denial of sexual misconduct, but also went on the attack against the accusing women.

This situation reminds me of what sometimes happens when government officials are accused of ethical misconduct. They and their attorneys do not stop at denials. They insist that they are the...
Robert Wechsler
In some counties, when a company seeks small-business or women- or minority-owned business designation for a county contract, this designation also applies to the municipalities within the county. Why can't the same sort of thing apply to lobbying? Tampa council member Lisa Montelione has asked this question, according to a September Tampa Bay Times...
Robert Wechsler
I have all but called for prohibiting mayoral golf tournaments and similar pet nonprofit events, because they are an unnecessary form of pay to play that is legal primarily because they help good causes in the community. China, which tends to take things too far, has gone extremely far in the latest order of the Communist Party's Central Committee, according to...
Robert Wechsler
In my chapter on local lobbying, I argue that even quarterly disclosure of lobbying activities is not sufficiently timely and that lobbyists' disclosures should be supplemented by the disclosures of high-level officials. According to an article in Sunday's San...
Robert Wechsler
Seattle's public campaign financing Initiative I-122 passed easily on Tuesday. It should prove to be an excellent experiment in campaign finance vouchers, an idea that has been batted about at the federal level, as well.

Here's how it works. Each election cycle (two years) the city's ethics commission will mail four $25 vouchers to each registered voter, to be given, if they choose, to any...

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