making local government more ethical

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Robert Wechsler
Are those who draft local government ethics codes unusually eccentric? Unusually clever? Or just lazy? Whichever it is, they don't seem to consider best practices, or even the practices of better ethics programs. Across the U.S.A., ethics code drafters seem to pull many of their provisions out of a hat. And as with Rocky the flying squirrel, sometimes they pull out a rabbit, sometimes a rhino, and sometimes Bullwinkle the moose.

The inspiration for this mini-rant is...
Robert Wechsler
There are three interesting issues in this one minor matter, involving a Louisiana sheriff's purchase of a house at a foreclosure sale handled by the sheriff's office.

The Application of Ethics Laws to Foreclosure Purchases
The first issue involves the transaction itself, the particular law in Louisiana, and how more common conflict laws may be interpreted in such a situation.

Louisiana has an unusual law that deals with this sort of transaction:...
Robert Wechsler
A local lobbying law is only as good as its enforcement, especially when local government leaders provide no leadership.

According to a column by Scott Cooper Williams in the Green Bay (WI) Press Gazette yesterday, Green Bay passed a lobbying registration law three years ago and, since that time, only seven lobbyists,...
Robert Wechsler
A must-read for lobbying reformers! A series of fascinating amendments that were made to New York City's lobbying law last December will take effect this month. There are some reforms here that I've never seen anywhere else, and they raise some issues that need to be more widely discussed.

The amendments, made in Local Law 129 (attached; see below), are based on recommendations made by a special reform task force, the...
Robert Wechsler
Sometimes even a wrongheaded ethics complaint can do good, by showing how wrongheaded a town's government ethics program is.

According to an editorial in The Day this week, the head of a local political party, Independence for Montville, filed an ethics complaint alleging that a former council member who owns a hot dog stand pushed to have the town's street vendor law changed so that street...
Robert Wechsler
According to a post in the Crain's Insider blog last week, the New York City council hired as deputy general counsel a lobbyist whose firm recently had been the council speaker's campaign consultant (the speaker is the leader of the NY city council, elected by its members). This raises an interesting conflict issue relating not only to hiring...

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