making local government more ethical

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Enforcement/Penalties

Robert Wechsler
Incompatible Political Offices
According to an article this week on the TribLive website, an ethics complaint was filed against an Allegheny County, PA council member for working as a constituent services representative for a state senator whose district partially overlaps the council member's. The county ethics code prohibits council members from being employed on the...
Robert Wechsler
One of the biggest problems in government ethics is determining whether ethics reforms "work." A well written article in the Advocate looked at Louisiana's ethics enforcement since the reforms instituted by Gov. Jindal became applicable in 2009. Louisiana's ethics program has jurisdiction over local officials.

One of the two biggest changes was to bring in a board of retired...
Robert Wechsler
Settlements of ethics proceedings are usually a good thing for everyone involved. They save officials the cost of a proceeding and prevent officials from digging themselves deeper and deeper into defenses, denials, and cover-ups, which are usually more harmful to the public trust than any ethics violation. They save taxpayers the cost of a proceeding and of possible appeals. They save the community the pain of going through an extended fight over an ethics violation, which can hurt its...
Robert Wechsler
I've been thinking about what I wrote in yesterday's blog post with respect to sanctioning police officers who knew about the disability scam but said nothing. The principal cause for this, besides each individual's self-interest, was a common uniformed department's conspiracy of silence, a loyalty to colleagues that takes precedence over loyalty to the...
Robert Wechsler
When the criminal justice system finds that government officials are involved in a conspiracy to pursue illegal conduct in an environment of fear and intimidation, they bring racketeering charges under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). This is what happened with the Atlanta schools cheating scandal. According to an article in today's New York Times, six more educators pleaded guilty to being part of the conspiracy, bringing the total to 17. According...
Robert Wechsler
Here is the story of a good settlement reached in an Ohio ethics proceeding involving a council member from a very small city. According to a recent article in the Canton Rep, the council member voted on an addendum to the lease of a golf course despite the fact that he lived on adjoining property. He admitted to having violated the state's conflict of interest provision, but the state ethics...

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