making local government more ethical
After all the problems San Diego pension boards have had with conflicts of interest (see my blog post from November 2009), one would think they would be extra-sensitive to further conflicts. But, alas, not in this case.

The tendency of local government ethics codes to limit conflicts to financial interests is one of my pet peeves. A current matter in Tacoma shows the downside of this limited definition of interests that can conflict.

I've been meaning for a long time to take a long second look at the City Ethics Model Code provision on the revolving door that many officials walk through between government and firms that do business with government. It's a complex matter, and local governments as well as states with jurisdiction over local government ethics deal with it in a variety of ways. Revolving door, or post-employment, provisions vary from a single sentence to almost 1,500 words in the District of Columbia.

Update: March 29, 2010 (see below)

It is a common problem in government ethics to confuse law and ethics. It is a more unusual problem to confuse law and facts. But this appears to be a problem in La Crosse (WI; pop. 51,000), according to an article in yesterday's La Crosse Tribune. But it's not the only problem.

The Partisanship of Ethics
The first pleasant surprise involves a blogger (Advance Indiana) who is disgusted with his own party's unethical conduct in his city/county, Indianapolis/Marion County. A native of Illinois, he compares it to Chicago, and he notes that his party took office because of the other party's unethical conduct. In this era of partisan blogging, it is nice to see recognition by a blogger of his own party's ethical problems.