making local government more ethical

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Confidential Information

Robert Wechsler
(Note: This post has been revised, based on a response from Steve Berlin, executive director of Chicago's ethics board. I had made the silly assumption that the underlined language in the ethics reform ordinance was new. It turns out that much of that language has been there for some time. So I've deleted some comments and made changes to others.)

Recently, the Chicago council passed a series of ethics reforms (attached; see below) in response to the first report of the city'...
Robert Wechsler
Providing incentives to attract companies or get them to expand their operations in a city or county has always been a controversial issue. Incentives are seen as necessary to attract, keep, or expand jobs locally, but they can also be an unnecessary way to get local governments into bidding wars (or what is presented to them as a bidding war) with other local governments, to the benefit of companies who are going to build or expand no matter what local governments offer.

Providing...
Robert Wechsler
It's Attack the Ethics Commission week once again, this time in New York State. According to an April 16 article in the Albany Times-Union, a mayor from one party filed a complaint against the deputy majority leader of the New York Senate, who is a member of the other party. The complaint is included below the article, and a...
Robert Wechsler
According to the blog of Kansas City, MO's mayor, Sly James, the KC Commission on Ethics Reform will be holding a public hearing tomorrow on its draft ethics code.

It's clear from the draft that...
Robert Wechsler
According to an article in the Metro West Daily News on Friday, the Ashland (MA) board of selectmen sent two reported allegations of possible acts of ethical misconduct to the state ethics commission. The request sought not enforcement, but clarification. I hope by "clarification" the board meant that it is seeking advice about continuing the...
Robert Wechsler
Transparency, although not generally part of a local ethics code, is central to a local government's ethics environment. A lack of transparency is both a tell-tale sign that things are wrong, and an impediment to discussing ethics issues and enforcing ethics violations. Unfortunately, ethics codes do have confidential information provisions, making it appear to those who do not understand government ethics that it is more important to hide confidential information than to let the sunshine in...

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