making local government more ethical

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Complaints/ Investigations/Hearings

Robert Wechsler
The big news in local government ethics yesterday was the publication of the final report of Quebec's Charbonneau Commission, which investigated bid rigging in the Montreal area, involving not only government officials and contractors, but also the Mafia and Hells Angels (see my 2012 blog post on the investigation).

The bad news is that...
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

Criminal enforcement of ethics violations usually involves fraud, and less so honest services fraud (which was essentially misuse of office) now that it has been essentially limited to bribery. And yet ethics enforcement rarely involves fraud, because ethics codes do not have fraud provisions. This is pretty strange, when you think about it:  the same misconduct being treated as apples and oranges.

Can local government ethics commissions enforce against fraud even without fraud-...

Robert Wechsler
A former head of Chicago's public school system has said she will plead guilty to a scheme to take hundreds of thousands of dollars, airfare, meals, and baseball tickets in exchange for steering more than $23 million in no-bid contracts to her former employer, an educational consulting and training company. The situation provides a valuable look at the problems that can arise when someone goes through the revolving door in the manner that is often overlooked by ethics code:  from a company that...
Robert Wechsler

Anyone who follows my blog knows that my favorite city to write about is Vernon, CA, the "Dream Machine," a city with lots of industry and no one other than city employees who might complain about what's in their backyard, or call for oversight.

But Vernon is not the only city of its kind, not even in Los Angeles County. This week, the Los Angeles Times wrote...

Robert Wechsler

Across the country, requests for citizen complaints provide not only for complaints, but also for commendations. I happened to notice one of these when I was in the nation's capital this weekend, and it got me wondering why this is not done with respect to government ethics complaints and hotline reports.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if ethics commissions were to ask citizens to file commendations regarding government officials' responsible handling of conflicts of interest situations?...