making local government more ethical

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Robert Wechsler
Update: May 14, 2011 (see below)

An ethics controversy in Hartford presents a perfect opportunity to show the difference between ethics and law, and the right way to approach financial disclosure requirements.

Here are the facts, as reported in two Jon Lender columns in the Hartford Courant Sunday and...
Robert Wechsler
This week, according to an article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Cuyahoga County (which includes Cleveland) passed a new ethics code, largely based on the recommended code drafted in October by the Code of Ethics Workgroup, set up by the Cuyahoga County Transition Advisory Group Executive Committee (the transition referred to is a change in form of government; see...
Robert Wechsler
Some Problems with Mayoral Executive Orders in Philadelphia
On January 25, Philadelphia Mayor Nutter signed three ethics-related executive orders, which I would love to link you to, but cannot. How effective, except as a way to get the council moving on ethics reform, are executive orders that can't be found online? These orders deal with nepotism, family-oriented conflicts, outside employment, and gifts.

Their limitations don't stop at inaccessibility. First, although...
Robert Wechsler
On Sunday, the New York Times ran an article based on a long-term investigation of group homes for the developmentally disabled in New York state. It found that "in hundreds of cases reviewed by The Times, employees who sexually abused, beat or taunted residents were rarely fired, even after repeated offenses and, in many cases, were simply transferred to other group homes run by the state." It sounds...
Robert Wechsler
Another way in which violence and unethical conduct are similar is the way they are handled by the news media. Just as violence is generally discussed in terms of separate battles and wars, day by day, unethical conduct is discussed in terms of separate scandals and individuals, day by day. And unethical conduct is responded to in the worst possible atmosphere.

What this does is prevent an awareness of the problem of unethical conduct in general and what constitutes a poor ethics...
Robert Wechsler
I talk a lot about poor ethics environments, probably the single most important element in unethical conduct. But since loyalty is the strongest force in such environments, a great deal of work is done to hide the existence of poor ethics environments. After unethical conduct is discovered, it is rare for anyone to set out just how bad things were.

But sometimes things are so bad, it becomes clear that there aren't just a couple of bad apples, but a whole bad crop...