making local government more ethical

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Robert Wechsler
I've talked about legal defense funds in the past as a way to accept large gifts from those doing business with a local government, but I referred, tangentially, to only one local government legal defense fund, that of former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. So I did some research and came up with a few other examples, which are worth knowing about if the...
Robert Wechsler
An article on the Texas Watchdog website focuses on a serious loophole in the Texas gift disclosure policy, which applies to local government officials. Section 176.003(a-1) of the Local Government Code (Title 5, Subchapter C) states:
    A local government officer is not required to file a...
Robert Wechsler
It's always nice to see politicians provide evidence for the argument that ethics self-regulation doesn't work, but it's rare for it to happen in so public a way as occurred yesterday. According to an article in Roll Call, Rep. John Carter (R-TX), "the point man for Republicans seeking to strip Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) of his gavel," did not disclose large profits from a sale of Exxon stock, even after...
Robert Wechsler
 A few days ago, I wrote a blog post about how several government officials in Wausau mishandled a conflict situation involving the purchase of property fixed up with an interest-free loan from HUD. Yesterday's The State of South Carolina covers two other HUD loan conflict situations in Columbia, which are...
Robert Wechsler
David Brooks' column in the New York Times today is about two views of character, the philosophers' and psychologists' views. He too simply portrays the philosophers' view as involving ingrained character traits, which is sadly how most people seem to view character. I would call this the mythological view of character.

The psychologists' view of character involves a "multiplicity of tendencies .....
Robert Wechsler
Update: October 21, 2009 (see below)
Two interesting issues come out of a long, detailed Kansas City Star article yesterday about Missouri political consultant, and recent house speaker, Ron Jetton.

Political Consultants and the Definition of "Lobbyist"
One involves the definition of "lobbyist." Missouri Revised Statutes §105.470(5)(a) defines "legislative lobbyist" as someone "acting in...