making local government more ethical

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Lobbyists

Robert Wechsler
This is the second post on Alan Rosenthal's The Third House: Lobbyists and Lobbying in the States (CQ Press, 1993). This post focuses on the importance of connections over influence, the role of money and constituents in local lobbying, and local lobbyists as relatively unprofessional, and what that means for lobbying regulation.

Professionalization
Because there are fewer professional...
Robert Wechsler
Although twenty years old and about the state level, Alan Rosenthal's The Third House: Lobbyists and Lobbying in the States (CQ Press, 1993) provides valuable food for thought about lobbying at the local level. This first of two posts looks at such topics as the importance of relationships to lobbying and what makes local lobbying so different.

One of the principal interests of this book is that it...
Robert Wechsler
Small towns don't need lobbying registration, because no lobbying of any consequence occurs there.

Small towns don't need lobbying registration, because no lobbying of any consequence occurs there.

Say it often enough — as local government and lobbying associations do — and people believe it's true. But it's not. And here's a good example why.

According to...
Robert Wechsler
The mayor of Miami-Dade County has announced the formation of a Procurement Review Task Force to, according to his May 6 memo (attached; see below), "improve and simplify our procurement process."

The principal goals of the task force are:
To ensure that all procurements continue to be conducted with the maximum level of transparency, fairness and integrity."

To "make procurement more efficient, easier to navigate for vendors," in other words, to...
Robert Wechsler
One of the areas where government ethics laws are weakest is the indirect relationship, such as when a gift is given not to an official, but to an official's spouse or child; an official's business relationship is not with a developer, but with the owner of the developer's parent; an official's aide participates on a recused official's behalf; or an official participates in a contract matter when she has a family relationship with the owner of a subcontractor that is not directly involved in...
Robert Wechsler
Many government ethics professionals don't like waivers. I think they're valuable. Basically, they are requests for an advisory opinion in which the official recognizes that certain conduct would constitute an ethics violation, but wants a determination that he can engage in the conduct due to special circumstances. The result of such a determination is the creation of a new, narrow exception to a rule. This is a good way of preventing bad unforeseen consequences of a rule. But waivers must be...

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