making local government more ethical

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Robert Wechsler
Two months ago, I wrote a blog entry about the en masse resignation of the Jackson County (MO) ethics commission, and said that this was a sign that things were seriously wrong in that county. Little did I know.

One thing I didn't know was the conflict that lies at the center of the commission's selection process. I praised the fact that independent organizations sat on an ethics selection committee. What I didn't...
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
Sometimes, those who write or amend local government ethics codes forget to make it clear exactly who is covered by an ethics code. Sometimes there is discussion about who should have to file annual disclosure statements, and sometimes there is discussion about whether volunteers should be covered. But too often individuals and bodies not central to local government are ignored.

There are three groups that are often not expressly dealt with in an ethics code. One is consultants,...
Robert Wechsler
I hate to harp so often on the problem of ethics matters being handled by criminal authorities, but when I read an article in the Nogales (AZ) International that begins as follows, I get angry.
    While there was “ample evidence of incompetence,” it took more than two years for Nils Urman, former Santa Cruz County Commerce and Economic Development Director, to...
Robert Wechsler
Special districts are an important and growing form of local government, and yet they often fly beneath the radar. In fact, I've only mentioned them once in my blog. And most citizens have no idea what they are or that they exist in their area (I myself can't name one in my area). For this reason, conflicts of interest involving special districts also remain, for the most part, invisible.

Special districts are set...
Robert Wechsler
The decision of the Louisiana First Circuit Court of Appeal in In re Arnold (May 23, 2008) causes serious problems with respect to ethics enforcement against local government legislators, at least in Louisiana. It opens up a can of worms that I haven't seen discussed (I'd appreciate being alerted to where it has been discussed).

The court decided that the Legislative...