making local government more ethical

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Robert Wechsler

The New York Times has been running a series of articles about municipal pension funds (by Mary Williams Walsh, Michael Cooper, and Danny Hakim, August 20, 22, 27, September 1, 4, 2006). The articles focus on two principal problems: (1) pensions have been increased, largely in order to get short-term cuts in negotiations with unions, and (2) calculations to determine the health of pension plans usually have little relationship to reality. Each problem is essentially an ethical problem...

donmc

http://www.sbsun.com/news/ci_4192705

Colton credit card had phone-sex charges

COLTON State and local authorities are investigating hundreds of phone-sex calls and dozens of hotel bills charged to the city-issued cell phone and credit card of Councilman Ramon Hernandez.

donmc

A Classic commentary on the Judiciary - with a comic (if a little sad) demonstration from my own Australia to paint the picture (rather well I thought...)
See the full story here: http://magic-city-news.com/article_6471.shtml

Maybe we ought to make jurists wear see-through robes. There's something about the combination of wearing a black...

Robert Wechsler

Contracting is one of the municipal ethics issues that is most often overlooked as an ethics issue. One reason is that the laws governing competitive bidding are often at the state level. Another is that municipal competitive bidding laws often appear outside codes of ethics (often because they are state mandated). But municipal contracting should be at the center of ethics concerns, because it is a relatively secret area where a great deal of wrongdoing and harm can occur.

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Robert Wechsler

Reading the newspapers, you might not realize that behind all the fraud, non-disclosure, and "reckless mismanagement" that former S.E.C. Chair Arthur Levitt found in San Diego's pension and wastewater systems were serious conflicts of interest. The sort of conflicts of interest that most people consider "just doing business."

The August 8 New York Times article does refer to these conflicts, recognizing that...

Robert Wechsler

There are municipal ethics issues that will never find their way into any ethics code, but which should certainly be covered in ethics training courses. Many of these issues involve the relationship between government and businesses.

If there were no money to be made in and through municipal government, there would be far less need for ethics programs. Power does corrupt, but it's no accident that corruption so often involves relations with developers and contractors. It's also no...

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