making local government more ethical

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Complaints/ Investigations/Hearings

Robert Wechsler
Who should be allowed to file an ethics complaint? Certainly any citizen of the jurisdiction. But what about multiple citizens of the jurisdiction? Should an ethics commission exclude a complaint from them?

This is what happened recently in Brookfield, CT, according to an article in the News-Times. A petition signed by a few hundred people in town was...
Robert Wechsler
Here's a new role for an ethics commission:  mediator in a dispute between other government oversight offices. According to an article in the Advocate last week, New Orleans' ethics board has appointed two of its members to mediate in an ongoing dispute between the city's Inspector General and its new...
Robert Wechsler
Settlements of ethics proceedings are usually a good thing for everyone involved. They save officials the cost of a proceeding and prevent officials from digging themselves deeper and deeper into defenses, denials, and cover-ups, which are usually more harmful to the public trust than any ethics violation. They save taxpayers the cost of a proceeding and of possible appeals. They save the community the pain of going through an extended fight over an ethics violation, which can hurt its...
Robert Wechsler
In a New York Times column today, Michael Powell has unearthed an ugly-looking government ethics situation in New Jersey involving apparent misuse of government ethics authority to win a vote.

The fact situation is fairly typical. What is not typical is the way it has been handled. A gas company is seeking permission to put a...
Robert Wechsler
When the criminal justice system finds that government officials are involved in a conspiracy to pursue illegal conduct in an environment of fear and intimidation, they bring racketeering charges under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). This is what happened with the Atlanta schools cheating scandal. According to an article in today's New York Times, six more educators pleaded guilty to being part of the conspiracy, bringing the total to 17. According...
Robert Wechsler
According to an article yesterday in the Seguin (TX) Gazette, there will be a perfectly ordinary local government ethics occurrence next Monday in Seguin, a town of 25,000 outside San Antonio: the city's ethics commission will meet in closed session to discuss a recently filed ethics complaint.

There doesn't seem to be anything wrong with this. But there are two...