making local government more ethical
What can local government ethics professionals learn from what has come out in the recent indictments of former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, his father, the city's director of water and sewerage, Kilpatrick's CAO and CIO, and a city contractor?

If a council member's law firm wants to bid on being the local government's attorney, a contract that is approved by the council, what is the responsible way to handle the matter?

Here are three cases from New York City that involve relations between superiors and subordinates, one of the most important aspects of local government ethics. What is especially interesting is that two of these cases involve co-opting, in one case of subordinates, in the other of vendors. These cases were included in COGEL's ethics update last week.

A Municipal Bid Rigging Scheme Comes to Light
According to an article in the New York Times this week, Banc of America Securities (which recently merged with Merrill Lynch) agreed to pay the SEC and others $137 million to settle charges related to a municipal bond bid-rigging scheme. For those who think competitive bidding rules are enough, this case should make you think otherwise.

Problematic Development
According to Harry Themal's column in yesterday's News Journal, the newly elected county executive of New Castle County (DE) wants to review government processes "top-to-bottom." There is just one catch. According to Themal, land use procedures are most in need of reform, but the new county executive's wife is a big land-use attorney representing local developers.

Two important issues arise from a story about a competitive bid for a concrete contract for an arena in Louisville which, according to an article in yesterday's Louisville Courier-Journal, was won by a company solely owned by a member of the state task force that chose the site, the chair of the board that manages the arena, a close friend of the coach of the arena's primary tenant, and a nonvoting member of the arena authority, whose executive director reports directly to the board that this individual chairs.