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Ethics Environments

Robert Wechsler
It not only takes a number of officials to allow unethical conduct to occur, it also takes a number of officials to undermine the effect of a good ethics program. An ugly example occurred recently in North Providence, Rhode Island, a city where three former council members are awaiting trial for charges of extortion and bribery.

According to...
Robert Wechsler
Sometimes concepts derived from one area of study, for one purpose, can be valuable in another area of study, for another purpose. This is true of the concepts of "injunctive norm" and "descriptive norm" derived by social psychology professor Robert Cialdini of Arizona State University for use in the area of persuading people not to do certain things, such as litter.

An "injunctive norm," according to...
Robert Wechsler
The recent arrest of the Prince George's County (MD) executive and his wife, who is a new member of the county council, shows how wrong it is to give the county executive and individual council members power over development projects, a topic I've written about with respect to Dallas and...
Robert Wechsler
What can local government ethics professionals learn from what has come out in the recent indictments of former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, his father, the city's director of water and sewerage, Kilpatrick's CAO and CIO, and a city contractor?

According to...
Robert Wechsler
I recently read a book by Stanley Cavell called Cities of Words: Pedagogical Letters on a Register of the Moral Life (2004). Despite its title, it is not about cities; in fact, much of the book uses movies to discuss this Harvard professor's ethical philosophy. What is relevant about this book to government ethics is Cavell's idea of "moral perfectionism," which isn't about being...
Robert Wechsler
A Municipal Bid Rigging Scheme Comes to Light
According to an article in the New York Times this week, Banc of America Securities (which recently merged with Merrill Lynch) agreed to pay the SEC and others $137 million to settle charges related to a municipal bond bid-rigging scheme. For those who think competitive bidding rules are enough, this case should make you think otherwise.
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