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Ethics Reform

Robert Wechsler
Happy Fifth Birthday, Atlanta Ethics Office! The Ethics Office has celebrated its birthday with a 40-page report on its first five years of existence. It is well worth looking at.

The report is entitled Ethics Is the Only Deal, from something Mayor Shirley Franklin said:  “Ethics is a big deal...
Robert Wechsler
There are two interesting developments going on in Texas right now, and two bills that will be heard in committee today.

One involves a request to the state legislature by El Paso County to allow local governments to give their ethics commissions teeth (they now can only censure).

According to an article on the KVIA-TV website, there have been ten guilty pleas following a recent public...
Robert Wechsler
Every time I check up on Jackson County, MO, I find something more that's shameful, if that word can be used anymore. This time a blog sent me to a You Tube video of the county legislature passing the new ethics ordinance, which I discussed in a blog entry earlier this week. Eight minutes of parliamentary procedure and slapping each other on the back...
Robert Wechsler
In many states without state enforcement of local government ethics, the compromise position pushed particularly by local government officials is to have the state mandate local ethics codes, but let local governments decide what's right for them. The motto of this position is, "One size does not fit all."

Size does matter, but not nearly as much as is often asserted. A strong ethics code is right for every size town or county. Larger cities and counties can use the same provisions...
Robert Wechsler
On the legislative immunity front, according to an article in the Providence Journal, a date has been set for the Rhode Island Supreme Court to hear the appeal by the Rhode Island Ethics Commission of the decision upholding the old constitutional legislative immunity clause against a more recent...
Robert Wechsler
An article in yesterday's New York Times points to yet another clever end run around ethics laws involving municipal bonds. Bond underwriters are not allowed to make campaign contributions, to prevent a pay-to-play environment. However, financial advisers, the people who hook local governments up with bond underwriters, are allowed to make campaign contributions. And so they do, in large...