making local government more ethical

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Robert Wechsler
Recently, the Connecticut Task Force on Municipal Ethics discussed a draft report. Neither in the report, nor in the discussion, is there anything about ethics training, the independence of ethics commissions, or financial disclosure. Advisory opinions were not included in the draft, but...
Robert Wechsler
Who is covered by an ethics code can be very important. In Baltimore, for instance, as I wrote in a recent blog entry, the city solicitor has interpreted the ethics code to require disclosure of gifts only from companies doing business with the city, not from their owners, officers, or employees.

I also wrote recently about jurisdiction over...
Robert Wechsler
Update below:
The controversy in Baltimore over the mayor's acceptance of gifts from a developer whose companies have received a great deal of funding from the city appears now to be focused on whether or not the mayor was required to disclose these gifts, since the developer did not personally do business with the city.

According to an article in...
Robert Wechsler
The word is out:  if local government officials don't want to file financial disclosure statements, all they have to do is resign en masse and whoever wrote the ethics code will not only rewrite it, but will say all sorts of warm, wonderful things about them.

This is the conclusion that comes from yesterday's passage of ...
Robert Wechsler
One of the biggest problems people have with government ethics is acknowledging the difference between ethics enforcement and ethics practice. Ethics enforcement is legal. You cannot enforce rules that are not in the law. But when it comes to ethics practice, the law represents only the minimum requirement. The law is what you have to do, but an official can be more ethical, more open, more responsible than what is required. Officials have fiduciary duties that go far beyond the...
Robert Wechsler
According to an article yesterday in the New Orleans Times-Picayune, there's a battle going on in New Orleans, but this time it involves a flood of public documents, as well as a trickle of financial disclosure forms. The battle is between the mayor and the city council, on one side, and a civil rights organization called the...