making local government more ethical

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Robert Wechsler
According to an investigative article on Nashville's WTVF-TV site yesterday evening, a former property assessor had help from a developer in disposing of her home and buying one from the developer, and also undervalued nine of the developer's properties by a total of $9.5 million over three years.

The assessor says that the developer offered the...
Robert Wechsler
It took a law student doing a summer job, but there is finally confirmation of what I have been saying for a long time:  normal people do not understand the word "interest" as it is commonly used by lawyers in the government ethics context. It was for this reason that I rarely use the word "interest" in my book Local Government Ethics Programs.

According to...
Robert Wechsler
Local government ethics can quickly become an ugly circus when officials don't really understand it. A good example occurred in Royal Oak, Michigan last week, when a city commissioner who had recently pointed out a legitimate conflict situation involving a fellow commissioner took an "ethics pledge" at a commission meeting, without any warning, and then asked that the commissioners agree to take the pledge at the beginning of every meeting, according to...
Robert Wechsler

This post looks at the final three essays in Corruption and American Politics, an essay collection edited by Michael A. Genovese and Victoria A. Farrar-Meyers (Cambria, 2011).

Pay to Play in the Municipal Bond Market
In "Influence Peddling and Voter Suppression," Thomas A. Hollihan looks at the municipal bond market, where sweetheart deals...
Robert Wechsler
A number of important issues arise from a case before the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board (ECDB) last week. The issues include: (1) how to treat an inadequate complaint; (2) how to treat a complainant in a proceeding, and (3) what to do when an ethics code and rules may be inadequate to a situation where there is a strong appearance of impropriety.

The case involves a member of the state Board of Regents, which...
Robert Wechsler
Update: August 9, 2012 (see below)

People tend to think that all good government people are alike. The thinking goes that those who favor the improvement of ethics programs also favor such things as term limits, referendums and initiatives, and pension forfeiture by those found to have violated the public's trust. As a matter of fact, I don't favor any of these other good government approaches.

The one I want to talk about in this blog post is referendums. They...