making local government more ethical

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Ethics Commissions/Administration

Robert Wechsler
According to Wikipedia, a Grand Unified Theory (GUT) is "a model in particle physics in which at high energy, the three gauge interactions of the Standard Model which define the electromagnetic, weak, and strong interactions, are merged into one single interaction."

It appears that the case of Michael Quinn Sullivan and his trio of...
Robert Wechsler
The story of state legislative interference with local government ethics programs in Florida continues with a newly amended bill in the state senate (SB 1474 is attached; see below), sponsored by senator Joe Abruzzo, whose antagonism to the Palm Beach County ethics program has been the subject of three City Ethics blog posts in the past year (audit of the Palm Beach County...
Robert Wechsler
The independent selection of EC members is a great thing for making a government ethics program appear independent of those under its jurisdiction and for ensuring that an ethics commission remains fully stocked with members. But how this selection process is actually accomplished matters, too.

There is good and bad in the Palm Beach County (FL) ethics commission selection process, as can be seen from recent events,...
Robert Wechsler
I'm currently reading a classic political science book about urban politics, Who Governs? by Robert Dahl. Who governs? is a question that is not asked often enough in local government ethics. It is not enough for an ethics program to have jurisdiction over officials and employees. It needs to have jurisdiction over those who actually govern the community, no matter what their position. I raised this issue in...
Robert Wechsler
Colorado has an extremely dysfunctional ethics program, everyone is complaining about it, but approaches to fixing it are sometimes just as dysfunctional. A year ago, I wrote three blog posts about its problems and people's complaints (total gift ban; lack of independence, including ethics commission members...
Robert Wechsler
Why is it so hard for officials, personally or in drafting ethics codes, to let an ethics commission do its work, dismissing complaints that lack validity (i.e., that do not state an ethics violation by someone under the ethics program's jurisdiction or for which there is insufficient evidence)? Why, instead, do they create and take advantage of non-substantive considerations for dismissal of complaints in order to take revenge on complainants?

I ask this question after reading...