making local government more ethical

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Ethics Environments

Robert Wechsler
An interesting article in today's New York Times focuses on an unusual feature of an unhealthy local government ethics environment. This feature is payment for votes, something we think of in terms of old city machines. In this case, it involved school board elections in Donna, TX, a town of 16,000. The FBI, rather than local prosecutors...
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
According to an article in the New York Times this week, dozens of New York City, as well as Nassau and Suffolk County, police officers were arrested for grand larceny relating to a scheme to fraudulently get disability pensions through Social Security. It is somewhat like the Long Island Railroad disability scam I wrote about in...
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
In a blog post last week, I listed the many reasons why city and county attorneys should not be providing ethics advice. One of those reasons was that "legal advice and ethics advice require different skill sets." But I limited this part of my analysis to saying that "A legal adviser sticks to the letter of the law, and is always on the lookout for...
Robert Wechsler
I'm reading an excellent novel right now:  Quiet Chaos by Sandro Veronesi, translated from the Italian by Michael F. Moore (Ecco, 2004, 2011).

The narrator has just learned that his boss stole money from the company they worked for. He was very close to his...

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