making local government more ethical

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Ethics Reform

Robert Wechsler
One of the news media's biggest problems is failing to look at the big picture and, instead, focusing on specific events and issues. This is especially true when it comes to government ethics, where the news media generally considers, and calls for, ethics reforms on a piecemeal basis.

An article on the Innovateli website yesterday shows that this same limited vision applies when a government ethics reform involves the...
Robert Wechsler

Local governments that lack a lobbying oversight program do not have to merely throw up their hands when a huge procurement matter arises. They have the choice to set rules for that matter which, if it works, may later be applied more generally.

This is the lesson that comes from the York, Ontario region which, according to a recent...

Robert Wechsler
The big news in local government ethics yesterday was the publication of the final report of Quebec's Charbonneau Commission, which investigated bid rigging in the Montreal area, involving not only government officials and contractors, but also the Mafia and Hells Angels (see my 2012 blog post on the investigation).

The bad news is that...
Robert Wechsler
In my chapter on local lobbying, I argue that even quarterly disclosure of lobbying activities is not sufficiently timely and that lobbyists' disclosures should be supplemented by the disclosures of high-level officials. According to an article in Sunday's San...
Robert Wechsler
Seattle's public campaign financing Initiative I-122 passed easily on Tuesday. It should prove to be an excellent experiment in campaign finance vouchers, an idea that has been batted about at the federal level, as well.

Here's how it works. Each election cycle (two years) the city's ethics commission will mail four $25 vouchers to each registered voter, to be given, if they choose, to any...
Robert Wechsler
Considering that it reflects a typical approach to lobbying, it is valuable to look at the language of a resolution to improve Austin's lobbying oversight program (attached; see below). It is also valuable to consider the opposition to this resolution by a coalition of local architects, engineers, and contractors, according to an article in the Austin Monitor this week.
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