A couple of weeks ago, in
a City and State column, veteran NYC reporter Wayne Barrett
hit the nail on the head regarding the responsibility for failures
to deal responsibly with conflicts of interest, specifically with
respect to the conviction of former state assembly speaker Sheldon
Silver, a Democrat:
According to an
article yesterday on Columbus, Ohio's NBC 4 website, a
lobbyist for a red-light camera company pleaded guilty to charges
that he solicited campaign contributions for elected city officials
from his client by creating the impression that the money was needed
to bribe the city officials. The lobbyist had helped the company win
the city contract...
Criminal enforcement of ethics violations usually involves fraud, and less so honest services fraud (which was essentially misuse of office) now that it has been essentially limited to bribery. And yet ethics enforcement rarely involves fraud, because ethics codes do not have fraud provisions. This is pretty strange, when you think about it: the same misconduct being treated as apples and oranges.
Can local government ethics commissions enforce against fraud even without fraud-...
Eula Biss's excellent book On
Immunity (Graywolf Press, 2014) is not about legislative
immunity, but about immunity to diseases. And yet there is a great
deal of food for thought in it about municipal ethics.
The first parallel can be seen in the "mun" in both "immunity" and "municipal." It comes
from the same Latin word "munus," which means service or duty. Who
David A. Marcello, the Executive Director of the Public Law Center
at Tulane University Law School in New Orleans, has been keeping
close tabs on New Orleans' troubled ethics program. In 2011, he
published a report on how Hurricane Katrina (2005) led New
Orleans' officials to turn a moribund ethics program into one...
Last month, Jonathan Rauch published a sincere and well-written defense of political machines, entitled "Political Realism: How Hacks, Machines, Big Money, and Back-Room Deals Can Strengthen American Democracy" (Brooking Institution Press; available free as a PDF or e-book). Although the essay scarcely mentions conflicts of interest, gifts, nepotism, and the like, and it makes no mention at all of conflicts of...