making local government more ethical

Mayoral Allowances - An Alternative Solution to Preventing Unethical Conduct

Taiwan has come up with the perfect way to prevent mayors from misusing government funds. Its solution appears to be based on the way parents prevent their children from taking money out of their wallets: give them an allowance to spend any way they please.

The mayor of Taipei gets a $62,000 annual 'special mayoral allowance' which, according to the New York Times, is 'practically indistinguishable from their salaries.' (The mayor does have to show receipts for half the allowance; the other half he wired into his personal account.) However, since the current mayor is running for president, he was prosecuted for misuse of this allowance (a misuse of $339,000), but was recently acquitted.

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The mayor, a very wealthy Harvard-educated lawyer, said that the allowance was part of his compensation, and that he gave $2 million to charity during his eight years as mayor (which the court considered an important sign that he had no criminal intent). However, according to the Taipei Times, most of the charitable giving occurred after the scandal broke.