making local government more ethical

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Robert Wechsler
Maricopa County (home of Phoenix) is doing an excellent job of showing America's local governments what not to do. In April, I wrote about the conflict that existed when the county attorney, after representing the county board of supervisors as it put together plans and contracts for a new county courthouse, decided to investigate the board's handling of these plans and contracts. The outcry over this conflict led the county attorney to turn the investigation over to another county.
Robert Wechsler
Ottawa is currently in the grips of its mayor's influence-peddling trial. The allegations are that the mayor tried to get another mayoral candidate out of the race by offering him money and a federal position. The Ottawa Citizen has an excellent chronology of what allegedly occurred. There is a lot of evidence, but most of it appears to be hearsay, at least so far. But...
Robert Wechsler
See update below
What is a local government ethics commission's role when a government official has done something illegal or unethical that has nothing to do with the official's work in government? That's the question facing the Knox County (TN) Ethics Committee, according to an article in yesterday's Knoxville ...
Robert Wechsler
Loyalty is a virtue that is out of place in government, because loyalty is a personal virtue, a virtue that involves one's own personal interest and that of the person one is loyal to.

Loyalty is a particularly difficult issue for local government attorneys, because loyalty is essentially the principal virtue for attorneys. Attorneys' conflicts of interest involve interests that get in the way of complete loyalty to a client.

Robert Wechsler
One great thing about the Internet is that it provides a clear picture of how people respond to officials who do not deal responsibly with their conflicts of interest, and how such irresponsible actions can undermine people's trust in government.

Robert Wechsler
Technicalities should play little role in discussions about local government ethics. But because there are ethics laws, people unashamedly talk about ethics technicalities. They see ethics laws as like any other law, not as minimal requirements that deserve more thinking about what's appropriate than about what's legal.

According to an article in Saturday's ...