making local government more ethical

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Complicity and Knowledge

Robert Wechsler
According to an article in Parsippany (NJ) Life, a Parsippany school board member filed an ethics complaint against himself with the state's School Ethics Commission. Is this odd course of action the best way to bring transparency to the school board, an institutional rather than personal problem?

The school board member...
Robert Wechsler
Just because it happens in New York City doesn't mean it will happen in the average city or, especially, town. Right? No, it can happen, only the numbers will probably be smaller. Two situations described in today's New York Times, both of them effectively centered on the hiring and failure to oversee consultants, are worth knowing about.

Elected Judges Selecting and Overseeing Distressed Property Receivers
The first one involves business property foreclosures...
Robert Wechsler
A report on the relationship between New York's state university system (SUNY) and the SUNY Research Foundation (RF) was published yesterday. What makes it of interest to this blog is the way the report emphasizes the personal nature of the management of the foundation, which distributes nearly a billion dollars a year in research grants almost exclusively to SUNY's many colleges and universities; the way it...
Robert Wechsler
As if Florida hasn't had enough scandals lately, there is now a mess in Sarasota County, on Florida's Gulf Coast. The focus is on terrible procurement policies and procedures that apparently allowed a lot of unethical behavior to occur. But as is usually the case, the center of the problem appears to have been the adminstration's attitude. And that attitude seems to have come out in the negotiations over the county administrator's severance package.

An Environment of Intimidation...
Robert Wechsler
Update: November 1, 2011 (see below)

Hundreds of Bronx police officers are being investigated for ticket fixing, one of the most common forms of preferential treatment in local governments across the country. What's especially notable about this investigation is that, according to an article in the New York Times,...
Robert Wechsler
Going by the reaction of the news media and the Pulitzer committee, the most serious government ethics scandal of 2010 occurred in Bell, California, where the city's top officials were paying themselves huge salaries, taking advantage of an uneducated, uninvolved citizenry.

Well, guess what. According to an article in Friday's Los Angeles Times, a Los Angeles...

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