making local government more ethical

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Complicity and Knowledge

Robert Wechsler
Earlier this month, a bill came before the Israeli legislature, the Knesset, called the Machers Bill. Its goal is to expand the Knesset's lobbying law to the executive branch as well as to municipalities, something that is rare in American states.

But what is a "macher"? It's a Yiddish term that, in the U.S., is most frequently used with respect to people in the Jewish community who always have their fingers in everything that's going on. They make (machen) things happen...
Robert Wechsler
"Wheeling" is a term I just discovered. The context is that NJ governor Chris Christie made a campaign promise to deal with "wheeling," and then failed to, according to a South Jersey Times editorial yesterday. Here's how the editorial describes the practice (many NJ local governments prohibit or limit contributions from their contractors):...
Robert Wechsler
"The deep problem with the system was a kind of moral inertia. So long as it served the narrow self-interests of everyone inside it, no one on the inside would ever seek to change it, no matter how corrupt or sinister it became — though even to use words like 'corrupt' or 'sinister' made serious people uncomfortable, so Katsuyama avoided them. Maybe his biggest concern, when he spoke to city residents, was that he be seen as just another nut with a conspiracy theory."

This seems...
Robert Wechsler
Mike DeBonis's article in the Washington Post last week describes an operatic ethics matter, with several twists and complications, with dramatic cries of innocence mixed with scathing accusations of guilt. The article is certainly more exciting than this blog post...
Robert Wechsler
Here is a concrete example of the problem of allowing local government attorneys to provide ethics advice that protects local officials, a problem that Florida state senator Jeff Clemens and the Florida League of Cities want to harden into state law in SB 606 (see my recent blog post for a discussion of the problem).

According to...
Robert Wechsler
According to an article in the New York Times this week, dozens of New York City, as well as Nassau and Suffolk County, police officers were arrested for grand larceny relating to a scheme to fraudulently get disability pensions through Social Security. It is somewhat like the Long Island Railroad disability scam I wrote about in...

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