making local government more ethical

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Contractors and Vendors

Robert Wechsler
According to an op-ed piece by a county commissioner from Collier County, Florida (in the Naples Daily News), two interesting twists on the gift to an official's favorite charity gambit occurred recently. Gifts to officials' favorite charities are a common way to get around pay-to-play laws. Here is what...
Robert Wechsler
In a Pay to Play Law Blog response to my recent blog post on a discussion that had appeared in the Pay to Play Law Blog, the argument is made that pay-to-play laws that go beyond disclosure, such as prohibiting campaign contributions from government contractors, set up a slippery slope toward the undermining of constitutional rights and toward higher compliance costs...
Robert Wechsler
There are several problems with Houston's new ethics provisions, in addition to what I pointed out in my last blog post. Some of them are typical, some of them are unusual. The ethics reform ordinance is attached; see below; the old ethics ordinance can be found by clicking here and scrolling down on the left to Code of Ordinances Chapter 18).

Impropriety and...
Robert Wechsler
This week, the Pay to Play Law Blog took a snapshot of the status of pay-to-play laws across the country, breaking them down into four categories:  jurisdictions that impose significant restrictions, including debarment; jurisdictions that require disclosure; jurisdictions with limited requirements; and jurisdictions that are considering pay-to-play laws.

I don't intend to...
Robert Wechsler
Insurance is a big area for abuse in local government. It usually constitutes a sizeable dollar percentage of a town's contracts, and an insurance broker who works in government can use his or her position to get the insurance business of companies that do or want to do business with the town. And insurance is an area few people understand, and which no department, office, or board may be responsible for overseeing.

According to...
Robert Wechsler
One of the most effective ways to create a good ethics environment is by telling the full story of the bad ethics environment that preceded it. If someone or, better, a number of people, have the courage and integrity to not only admit publicly to what they and their colleagues did, but to tell it like a story, a group story, it will have a cathartic effect. It will cleanse the community and act as a point where everything is in the open and continues to be in the open. It will make it easier...

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