making local government more ethical

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Robert Wechsler
A failure to deal responsibly with one's conflicts of interest has ramifications beyond the loss of public trust, and all the serious problems that arise from this loss. This failure can also lead to litigation and the overturning of actions by local government officials.

A good example of this can be seen in the case of Rissler v. Jefferson County Board of Zoning Appeals, decided by the West...
Robert Wechsler
Note: I completely rewrote this post after Mark Davies set me straight about the state law on which disclosure forms an official must file.

Poor draftsmanship of ethics codes can cause serious ethical problems. This is certainly true of New York Municipal Law §811(1)(b), which put Suffolk...
Robert Wechsler
How many wrongs does it take to make a right?

According to a Sun-Sentinel article, a county commissioner in Broward County, home of Ft. Lauderdale, resigned on Tuesday after being arrested on seven counts of...
Robert Wechsler
"Ceremonial function" is one of those terms that is found in many local government ethics codes (but not the City Ethics Model Code). However, it is rarely defined except, occasionally, in advisory opinions. The term is generally used to exclude certain gifts from being either disclosed or considered gifts at all. The result is lots of free, undisclosed tickets to sporting events, especially for mayors...
Robert Wechsler
Image by Joe Wu

Following up on the previous blog post, here is the first of two examples of local government ethics matters involving anonymity outside of an internet context.

An article in Thursday's Bangor Daily News discusses a state ethics commission investigation into anonymous...
Robert Wechsler
In my recent blog post on Maricopa County, I referred to the problem of harassment and intimidation by government officials against other government officials and employees. I have also referred in the past to the even more serious problem of harassment, intimidation, and ad hominem attacks by government officials against citizens. There is a new sort of fear...