making local government more ethical

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Robert Wechsler
Gift Bans
In Sunday's Marietta (GA) Daily Journal, former state representative Roger Hines wrote a column with the title "What Does Corruptibility Have to Do with a Dollar Figure?" Hines considered the state's $100 limit on gifts from lobbyists. After talking about the value of lobbyists...
Robert Wechsler
According to an article in yesterday's Washington Post, new allegations have been made of a "shadow campaign" by which the District of Columbia's largest contractor (in contract dollars) supported the current mayor's 2010 campaign to the tune of about 650,000 unreported dollars. The money was allegedly spent on all the...
Robert Wechsler
Defining what lobbying is is one of the most important parts of a lobbying law. Not only are many definitions of lobbying unclear or full of loopholes, but it is difficult to get even a good definition across, because the popular concept of lobbying is different from what lobbying really is.

This can be clearly seen in what has recently happened in the Orange County, FL school district. According to...
Robert Wechsler
Possibly the most important single thing in government ethics is the recognition that just because something isn't required, it doesn't mean you can't do it, and that just because something is not expressly prohibited, it doesn't mean you can do it. This is an expanded version of what I've often talked about:  that, unlike most laws, ethics laws are minimum requirements.

I really like it, for example, when, even though the law does not require immediate disclosure of...
Robert Wechsler
Here are three instances of ethics reform that, I hope, would not happen if someone involved had read the chapter on ethics reform in my Local Government Ethics Program book.

Copying a Local Town's Code
According to an article in yesterday's Houston Chronicle, the...
Robert Wechsler
This week, a citizen in the village of Niles, IL (pop. 30,000) made a proposal for applicant disclosure, something every ethics program should have, but most do not. According to an article in yesterday's Niles Herald-Spectator, the proposal "would ask if the applicant’s officers, directors or partners are related by blood or marriage or reside in...