making local government more ethical

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Robert Wechsler
Government ethics groups come in all shapes and sizes. City Ethics, an ordinary nonprofit, has a website with huge amounts of information about government ethics, and no financial resources. The American Dream Initiative, a social welfare organization founded last year, apparently has large financial resources, but no website and no information about government ethics.

I say "apparently" because, according to...
Robert Wechsler
A conflict situation in my state of Connecticut is instructive regarding a basic concept of government ethics, as well as a basic concept of legislative immunity.

Legislators insist that they require immunity because their motives in making decisions cannot be questioned outside their body. Government ethics, on the other hand, does not consider motive, only conduct and relationships. This is one of the principal reasons why I argue that legislative immunity does not protect...
Robert Wechsler
Another day, another grand jury report recommending government ethics reform. This report (attached; see below) comes from Orange County, NY, a county northwest of New York City, whose biggest town is Newburgh and whose most famous towns include the very different Tuxedo and Kiryas Joel.

The report criminally exonerates the county legislator who is its subject, because he did a couple things right:  he sought ethics advice from the ethics board, and he disclosed his employment with...
Robert Wechsler
States can make life difficult for local government ethics programs. For example, according to an article in the Baltimore Sun on Sunday, in Maryland, local governments have to use the same rules for access to ethics disclosures as the state does. And the state's rules are designed to prevent access.

The state requires...
Robert Wechsler
As we know, the devil's in the details. In government ethics codes, this means the language. In the case I will look at here, the devil's in the verbs.

According to an article on the WTSP-TV website last week, a Florida state senator who lobbies for a sports team seeking taxpayer subsidies relating to payments on its sports arena...
Robert Wechsler
Earlier this month, a bill came before the Israeli legislature, the Knesset, called the Machers Bill. Its goal is to expand the Knesset's lobbying law to the executive branch as well as to municipalities, something that is rare in American states.

But what is a "macher"? It's a Yiddish term that, in the U.S., is most frequently used with respect to people in the Jewish community who always have their fingers in everything that's going on. They make (machen) things happen...

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