making local government more ethical

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Robert Wechsler
According to an article in Tuesday's New York Times, nonprofits are seeking an exception to the Obama administration's rule that lobbyists cannot serve in areas where they have lobbied. This raises the issue of the purpose of revolving-door provisions, which are common in local government ethics codes.

One purpose of revolving-door provisions is to prevent government officials...
Robert Wechsler
One of the principal reasons I have focused my energies on local government ethics is that most people learn their government ethics at the local level. What they see people doing on councils and zoning boards, they do on state legislatures and commissions, and then again at the federal level.

But things go the other way, as well. Disdain for government ethics at the state level can affect the ethics environments of that state's local governments. This appears to be happening in...
Robert Wechsler
Broward County (FL), home of Ft. Lauderdale, is working on ethics reform, something Ft. Lauderdale itself did in 2007. Today, according to a piece on the Sun-Sentinel Broward Politics website, a county commissioner will be introducing a bill to prevent county commissioners from soliciting contributions for third parties, whether charities or other...
Robert Wechsler
Individuals and companies doing the work of government or work approved by government, even when they do not have a direct financial relationship with government, should be within the jurisdiction of a government's ethics code. This controversial position is strengthened by what happened to many Tennessee local governments, according to a front-page article in today's New York Times.

Robert Wechsler
The Council on Governmental Ethics Laws has great instincts for meeting where the ethics problems are greatest. Last year it met in Chicago. This year it will be Maricopa County, AZ (the Phoenix area).

See update below
A couple months ago, I wrote about the Maricopa County sheriff's self-promotion that appears to rise to the level of a conflict of interest. Now the...
Robert Wechsler
Hiding a conflict of interest can lead to much worse problems than appearing before an ethics commission and getting your hand slapped, or even getting slapped with a fine. A criminal case in Winston-Salem, NC this week shows how bad things can get.

According to an article in today's Winston-Salem ...