making local government more ethical

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Complicity and Knowledge

Robert Wechsler
"It was like dandelions. You just accept them. They were there, something you've seen all your life."

Dandelions are a perfect metaphor for institutional corruption. In this case, the dandelions were extra payments (beyond those due to retirees) made by Detroit's two pension funds, to active employees (54%), retirees (14%), and the city itself (32%), the latter to lower annual contributions to the funds, according to...
Robert Wechsler
Yesterday, a felony complaint was issued against William Rapfogel, the CEO of the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, a large nonprofit social service agency that received millions of dollars in grants and contracts from New York City, New York state, and the federal government. One of the charges is that the nonprofit made large campaign contributions to city and state...
Robert Wechsler
On April 17, the District of Columbia ethics board filed recommendations for ethics reform with the council (see my blog post on the recommendations). Council member Kenyan R. McDuffie has introduced a bill that includes some of these recommendations (attached; see below). On...
Robert Wechsler
Here's an interesting case study from Hartford, CT. The facts come from an NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters post from Friday and a report of the city's Chief Auditor dated June 27, 2013.

In October 2011, the...
Robert Wechsler
I don't get it. Such a big deal has been made out of the Bell, CA officials paying themselves big bucks. This was considered the big local government ethics story of the last few years. The Los Angeles Times won a Pulitizer Prize for uncovering it.

Yes, what happened in Bell was appalling. But what happened in Luzerne County, PA was far, far worse. And yet, for example,...
Robert Wechsler
Government ethics proceedings are usually not very satisfying for those involved. Individuals rarely get to tell the entire story from their point of view. Nor do they profit from hearing how others saw the situation or experienced the events. The format for ethics proceedings is similar to the criminal justice system, with charges, a prosecution, witnesses, documents, and the ethics commission as jury. Or a settlement is reached, the equivalent of a plea bargain, and no story is told at all...

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