making local government more ethical

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Complicity and Knowledge

Robert Wechsler
It's a nice coincidence that, just when I was preparing to write a blog post about a trendy thing in the corporate world called "open-book management," the former comptroller of Dixon, IL, Rita Crundwell, pleaded guilty to a federal fraud charge that she siphoned more than $53 million from the town of only 16,000 people (over a period of 21 years), according to...
Robert Wechsler
It's valuable to put government ethics in the larger context of the use of public office for private purposes that does not involve a financial benefit for anyone. In other words, much of politics is personal. A review in this weekend's New York Times Book Review got me thinking about this. The book, by Seth Rosenfeld, is entitled...
Robert Wechsler
It was very refreshing to hear Ann Arbor council member Steven Kunselman, in an interview with Jeanine DeLay of A2Ethics, an Ann Arbor-based ethics organization, talking openly, honestly, and intelligently about some local government ethics situations. The two situations he...
Robert Wechsler
It is assumed in government ethics enforcement that an official who mishandles a conflict situation is solely responsible for her misconduct. This assumption is rarely questioned. The official might have received no training, or poor training. The official might not have been encouraged to seek advice; in fact, she might not have had access to professional ethics advice from anyone, or only from a city attorney who was an important player from the other political party. The official might not...
Robert Wechsler
They have various names, such as councils of governments (COGs), joint powers authorities (JPAs), and regional councils or commissions, but whatever names they have, these local government associations are often left outside of both local and state government ethics programs. And yet, as the term "joint powers authorities" implies, they do wield power and do spend or affect the spending of money, often huge amounts of money in transportation, water, and other construction projects.

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Robert Wechsler
Yesterday was the 40th anniversary of the Watergate break-in. For those too young to remember, President Nixon's re-election campaign had people break in to the Democratic National Committee's offices in the Watergate complex in Washington, D.C.

According to an editorial in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette yesterday, one of the lesser known people involved in the break-in...

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