making local government more ethical

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Robert Wechsler
Here's an interesting modern spin on an old-fashioned nepotism/conflict of interest matter. According to an article in Tuesday's Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, the husband of a member of a charter school's board was hired to teach at the charter school, and there is disagreement over whether there is a conflict or not.

One twist is that the charter school's board does not have the power to hire...
Robert Wechsler
A failure to deal responsibly with one's conflicts of interest has ramifications beyond the loss of public trust, and all the serious problems that arise from this loss. This failure can also lead to litigation and the overturning of actions by local government officials.

A good example of this can be seen in the case of Rissler v. Jefferson County Board of Zoning Appeals, decided by the West...
Robert Wechsler
There's an interesting issue at the heart of a judicial inquiry into possible misconduct by the mayor of Mississauga, Ontario. The council sought the inquiry to “investigate any supposed breach of trust or other misconduct of a Member of Council, an employee of the municipality or person having a contract with the municipality” and to inquire into “any matter connected with the good government of the municipality or the conduct of any part of its public business." In short, it is an open-ended...
Robert Wechsler
There is nothing more important in local government ethics than timely, independent, professional ethics advice. And there is no bigger problem in local government ethics than poor ethics advice, especially that given by local government attorneys who (1) do not have a full understanding of government ethics, especially the fact that its rules are minimum requirements, which means that a strict interpretation of the language is inappropriate in providing ethics advice, (2) are political...
Robert Wechsler
How many wrongs does it take to make a right?

According to a Sun-Sentinel article, a county commissioner in Broward County, home of Ft. Lauderdale, resigned on Tuesday after being arrested on seven counts of...
Robert Wechsler
On Independence Day weekend, it's worth remembering that independence does not come cheap, and that there are some things that are more important than independence.

One of those things is the public trust. There is a serious cost to our society when government officials place their independence from ethics enforcement above the public trust, that is, when government officials insist on legislative immunity. And there is a cost to officials, too:  their trial not by a neutral body in...