making local government more ethical

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Robert Wechsler
A week ago, I wrote about the weaknesses of an ethics initiative in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. This week, in neighboring Lackawanna County, the responses to a March 25 state ethics commission decision has shown truly irresponsible handling of one man's conflicts in two school districts.

Robert Wechsler
Is the partisanship of local government elections a government ethics issue? I think it is, partly.

The story that sparked my thoughts about this was one from today's New York Times about Mayor Bloomberg's second attempt to turn New York City elections from partisan to nonpartisan.

Pro-nonpartisan arguments include "the unhealthy influence of parties" and the...
Robert Wechsler
A Good Discussion of a Possible Conflict
It's good to see ethics discussions where both sides have good arguments to make. According to an article yesterday on, the selectmen of Lakeville, MA were discussing the possible hiring of an electrical inspector who does electrical work for the town of 10,000 south of...
Robert Wechsler
Last September, I wrote a blog post about an ethics initiative in Palm Beach County, Florida. A response to numerous scandals, it featured an ethics pledge, primarily for government officials, and a successful attempt to get an independent ethics commission and inspector general for the county government. I felt that the business leaders in Palm Beach County who led the...
Robert Wechsler
Back in January, I wrote about the California Supreme Court's decision in a criminal conflict of interest prosecution against members of a San Diego pension board. In that post, I wrote about how to solve the problem that led to the case's dismissal: local government employees being considered a class (like businesspeople or senior citizens) that is excepted from the...
Robert Wechsler
Failure to disclose or to recuse oneself, even when it is not legally required, can lead to some big headaches, as can be seen in Portland, OR, where a city commissioner voted on a grant to a non-profit organization where his girlfriend works. Also interesting in this case is the commissioner's use of personal ethics rather than professional, government ethics in making his judgment calls.

According to...