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Ethics Officers

Robert Wechsler
Saturday, August 29 is the day when the Jacksonville City Council's finance committee will consider the budget for the city's ethics office, a big $95,000. There has been talk of using the city's budget crisis to get rid of the ethics office, but the newspapers and the city's civic organizations want to preserve the office.

The city's ethics officer, who will be making a presentation, is Carla Miller, president of City Ethics. The budget hearing can be viewed live on Saturday, from...
Robert Wechsler
One of the most contentious topics in local government ethics is prohibition vs. disclosure of gifts to officials. As with so many government ethics issues, the best answer is both, but reaching the best answer requires a thinking outside the box, along with a sincere interest in ending pay-to-play, in this case, the use of gifts as a way to reward officials for past or future conduct.

One example of such thinking outside the box comes from City Ethics' own Carla Miller, the...
Robert Wechsler
In a blog post yesterday, I noted that North Carolina was soon to require local governments to pass ethics codes. I've now found out more about the proposed law, and it is disappointing, to say the least.

States have taken a variety of approaches to local government ethics. Some have a state local government ethics law that is administered at the state level. Some have a state local government law that requires...
Robert Wechsler
A judicial opinion is apparently not enough to put an end to local government officials using the excuse that the local government attorney told them participation in a matter is legal. Nor is the fact that the official's decision whether to participate is not solely a legal decision, but rather a judgment based partially on the language of an ethics code and partially on a determination of what is appropriate under the...
Robert Wechsler
The most complicating (sic) part of conflicts of interest is the being interested part. When one is interested in something, not necessarily in a financial way, it can be very hard to get the emotional distance necessary to analyze a conflict properly. In other words, it's hard for many people to admit the possibility that they may have a conflict and then to determine rationally what should be done about it.

A case in point involves the village attorney of Mokena, IL.

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Robert Wechsler
Move over, presidents, movie stars, and models. Welcome a local government ethics officer to your ranks.

Yes, at last a local government ethics officer's picture is on the cover of a magazine. The ethics officer is City Ethics' own Carla Miller, and the magazine is Northeast Florida's Folio Weekly. And there's even an incredible...

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