making local government more ethical

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Robert Wechsler
Ethics provisions dealing with contracts often ignore subcontractors. This leaves open a big loophole, through which an official can get a big piece of a contract by hiding behind a contractor. This is part of a larger problem: ignoring indirect benefits.

According to an article put up last night on the St. Louis Beacon website, this problem arose this week...
Robert Wechsler
The arrest of Miami Beach's former procurement director last October may not be news, but there's a lot to be learned from this case. The issues include personal discretion, alternatives to fully competitive bidding, access to information, and debarment rules.

According to the affidavit of arrest (attached; see below), the procurement director was arrested on charges of bid tampering, bribery, and money laundering. He became a silent partner with another man (a public school...
Robert Wechsler
Should council members do business with each other or with the mayor? Another way to put this question is, does their doing business together give rise to a conflict of interest?

The situation that gave rise to these questions came out recently in Hoboken, NJ. According to...
Robert Wechsler
There is a great deal to be learned from the selection process for the new District of Columbia Board of Ethics and Government Accountability, which is effectively complete. Three weeks ago, I wrote a blog post about the nomination of Robert Spagnoletti to be chair of the new ethics board. I questioned this nomination of a former D.C. Attorney General (that is, city...
Robert Wechsler
A post yesterday in Coates' Canons: NC Local Government Law Blog raises an interesting issue about the situation of a local government candidate who has an interest in a contract with the local government which, by NC law, is prohibited not for candidates, but for a winning candidate the day he or she takes office. This provides a good occasion to look at the intersection of candidates and local government ethics...
Robert Wechsler
It's nice when something you write about in a blog shows up on the front page of the New York Times the following day. Yesterday, in a post called "Privatization and Transparency," I discussed new types of privatization involving nonprofits, which raise new sorts of problems. One type of nonprofit operates government-funded facilities or programs, such as schools. These nonprofits are...