making local government more ethical

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Robert Wechsler
It was only a matter of time before the U.S. Supreme Court's campaign finance opinions (and decisions at the trial and appellate level that have applied them to other situations) would be used to argue that conduct prohibited or limited by government ethics provisions are also protected as free speech by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

In August 2015, a complaint against the state legislative ethics commission (attached; see below) was filed in the Eastern District of...
Robert Wechsler
What are the government ethics implications of private security when it goes beyond protecting specific businesses, malls, universities, and gated communities, becomes an adjunct to or replacement of an ordinary police force, and is done in conjunction with the public police force and, often, using off-duty public police officers?

One problem is that such private forces generally protect the most wealthy neighborhoods. Setting up a neighborhood force with the...
Robert Wechsler
Conflicts of interest are generally not seen to apply to local party committees. There are almost never limitations on membership or voting on such committees by local government employees, contractors, developers, grantees, or others seeking financial benefits from the government.

An article in today's New Haven (CT) Register...
Robert Wechsler

Long ago, experts in philosophy, physics, and psychology recognized that reality and perception are not as different as people used to think. And yet people continue to think it. One area where they continue to think it is government ethics.

According to an article in the Stamford (CT) Advocate last week, during an ethics training class for...

Robert Wechsler

In an article on the deportation of Haitians from the Dominican Republic in yesterday's New York Times, a police officer agonizes over the prospect of having to deport his best friend, a Haitian immigrant. “I have no choice,” he is quoted as saying. “It saddens me to think about being ordered to detain someone I really care about. It will be hard not to...

Robert Wechsler

Last month, Jonathan Rauch published a sincere and well-written defense of political machines, entitled "Political Realism: How Hacks, Machines, Big Money, and Back-Room Deals Can Strengthen American Democracy" (Brooking Institution Press; available free as a PDF or e-book). Although the essay scarcely mentions conflicts of interest, gifts, nepotism, and the like, and it makes no mention at all of conflicts of...