making local government more ethical

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Book Review

Most books of relevance to local government ethics deal with administrative ethics, that is, the ethical behavior of government administrators, rather than with conflicts or government ethics...

Robert Wechsler
The principal problem with getting one's ethics from one's organization is that, according to Bailey, “Organizations seem to have a poorly developed sense of right and wrong. Expediency all too often comes out ahead of morality. Organizations and institutions are supposed to be the guardians of trust and fair dealing, but often there is no one to guard the guardians and — self interest being a prime mover — they look after their own good rather than the public good. ... The lack of moral...
Robert Wechsler
In The Kingdom of Individuals (Cornell University Press, 1993), F. G. Bailey's principal concern is what he calls svejks (pronounced "shvikes"), that is, individuals in organizations who put their personal, but not usually financial interests ahead of the organization, and yet act as if they are loyal to...
Robert Wechsler
Another cause for my last blog entry, on the three lies of government ethics, is that I had just finished F. G. Bailey's book The Prevalence of Deceit (Cornell, 1991). The book is about the close connection between deceit and power. Bailey pictures politics as a contest for power that employs rhetoric. The goal of rhetoric is...
Robert Wechsler
I recommend an essay by Donald Menzel from the October issue of PM, the magazine of the International City-County Management Association (ICMA), entitled "Strengthening Ethical Governance in Local Governments." Menzel is a former president of the American Society for Public Administration, author of Ethics Management for Public Administrators: Building Organizations of Integrity, and co-editor of ...
Robert Wechsler
Gift disclosure and limitations are an important part of government ethics. But rarely do we think of what gifts mean. Usually this goes little further than politicians saying, "I can't be bought."

But gifts aren't about buying. In fact, gifts are the opposite of buying, according to Lewis Hyde in his 1983 book, The...

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