making local government more ethical
Baltimore Mayor Resigns
Baltimore's mayor resigned on Wednesday, fortunately after being convicted of the crime of embezzlement (albeit for $500 in gift cards) rather than the ethics violation (not yet tried) of failing to include gifts on her financial disclosure statement (see Baltimore Sun article).

If citizens could once in their lives be a juror in a government ethics trial, we would have incredible ethics laws. This is the conclusion one comes to after reading, in an Albany Times-Union article, the comments of jurors in the trial of former NY senate majority leader Joseph Bruno for misuse of office and failure to disclose.

Here are a few of the jurors' comments:

Tallahassee takes a compliance approach to ethics. Its ethics code is aspirational, based on core values. Its ethics training employs a Character First approach. Conflicts of interest are only a small portion of a program that ranges from personnel and transparency issues to harassment, discrimination, and fraud.

This is not the sort of ethics program usually discussed in this blog, because it is not what is traditionally referred to as "government ethics." But since the city government calls it an ethics program, it is important to look at what it is and how it differs from a traditional program.

Update: January 4, 2010 (see below)

On December 15, Chicago published a Compliance and Integrity Survey that its Office of Compliance commissioned from the Ethics Resource Center, a primarily corporate ethics and compliance research organization.

Here are some of the principal findings of the survey. Comparisons are to the local government portion (pages 31-35) of the ERC's 2007 National Workplace Ethics Survey

In three cities this week, top officials showed the ability to get away with unethical behavior, but not the ability to distinguish law from ethics.

In a recent blog post, I listed the suits filed by Maricopa County's sheriff Joe Arpaio and county attorney Andrew Thomas against other county officials during the Council on Governmental Ethics Laws conference right in the heart of Maricopa County.

Well, it got worse. On the last day of the conference, according to an article in the Arizona Republic, the county attorney filed criminal charges against a district court judge, accusing him of hindering prosecution, obstructing a criminal investigation, and bribery.