making local government more ethical

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Lobbyists

Robert Wechsler
“If you hold a tiger by the tail, you have a difficult choice to make: Do you let go or not? It’s not a good thing to alienate any legislative leader.”

—Richard Runes, lobbyist for Glenwood Management, a large New York state real estate developer that allegedly gave tax work to a law firm that then made undisclosed payments to the state's Assembly Speaker, who had allegedly recommended the law firm. The quote refers to continuing the use of this law firm, knowing that if it...
Robert Wechsler
“I think people should know right from wrong, and if folks are going to do something they’re not supposed to, they’re going to do it. If people are calling up commissioners at night on their personal cellphones, I have no idea about it. … If I knew something was going on, I would go directly to (County Attorney) David Escamilla.”
—Travis County, TX (Austin) Purchasing Agent Cyd Grimes. Travis County has no lobbying law.

“[El Paso County's lobbying law] puts ethical...
Robert Wechsler
In some counties, when a company seeks small-business or women- or minority-owned business designation for a county contract, this designation also applies to the municipalities within the county. Why can't the same sort of thing apply to lobbying? Tampa council member Lisa Montelione has asked this question, according to a September Tampa Bay Times...
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
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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Robert Wechsler
Rarely do agencies' own lobbyists get caught by their agency breaking agency rules on communications. This is what just happened in Houston. According to an article last night on Houston's Channel 13 website, an individual who, under a contract, lobbies state and federal officials for the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, TX (METRO) disclosed that he had spoken with a judge...

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