making local government more ethical

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Robert Wechsler
Indefinite benefits, like indirect benefits, are often not dealt with by ethics codes, and this means that they can cause confusion and controversy. This is one reason I tend to speak in terms of "possible conflicts," because possible conflicts based on indefinite benefits can be just as injurious to the public trust as certain conflicts based on certain benefits.

In the current situation in Cincinnati, it is not certain whether the streetcar project will benefit the council member'...
Robert Wechsler
A government official's relationships -- to family, employer, business -- are very important to determining whether conflicts exist. Both the type and the directness of each relationship are also important.

Here again are the basic facts of the situation in Cincinnati that I will be using to touch on a variety of issues (see the previous blog post for a list of...
Robert Wechsler
According to an blog post this week, the chair of the Honolulu Ethics Commission resigned on April 22. Although his letter of resignation provides no cause for the resignation, the chair apparently said that he had been asked to assist a mayoral...
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...