making local government more ethical

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Jurisdiction

Robert Wechsler
I've written many blog posts about various cases where the legislative immunity defense has been made, but I haven't pulled together in one post the three alternative, preventative approaches local governments can take to deal with the issue of legislative immunity before anyone raises it as a defense. It is far better, and far less expensive, to prevent local legislators from raising the defense of legislative immunity than it is to litigate this complex issue. It is also damaging to the...
Robert Wechsler
This week, according to an article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Cuyahoga County (which includes Cleveland) passed a new ethics code, largely based on the recommended code drafted in October by the Code of Ethics Workgroup, set up by the Cuyahoga County Transition Advisory Group Executive Committee (the transition referred to is a change in form of government; see...
Robert Wechsler
Two types of independence often clash when it comes to government ethics. It is important that government ethics programs be administered by independent commissions. But independent agencies often do what they can not to be subject to a local government ethics commission.

It is clear which sort of independence is more important, but independent agencies still put their interest in self-regulation ahead of the public's interest in an effective, trustworthy ethics program. This has...
Robert Wechsler
Some Problems with Mayoral Executive Orders in Philadelphia
On January 25, Philadelphia Mayor Nutter signed three ethics-related executive orders, which I would love to link you to, but cannot. How effective, except as a way to get the council moving on ethics reform, are executive orders that can't be found online? These orders deal with nepotism, family-oriented conflicts, outside employment, and gifts.

Their limitations don't stop at inaccessibility. First, although...
Robert Wechsler
A recent decision of the Wilton, NY ethics board (attached; see below) raises important issues regarding the selection of ethics commission members, their withdrawal from participation when they have a conflict, and the way an ethics commission handles allegations that are not covered by the ethics code.

Allegations That Do Not Constitute Violations
The only allegation in the complaint that was covered by...
Robert Wechsler
Seeking Order in Government
All government officials seek order, not just in the sense of law and order, but also in the sense of having everyone know their roles, their authority, and their relationships to other individuals and agencies.

Nonviolent actors seek order in societies where some kinds of disorder are taken for granted, for example, in dictatorships that have usurped authority and destroyed relationships.

In this sense, government ethics seeks...

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