making local government more ethical

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County Related

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
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...
Robert Wechsler

Mixing Election Oversight and Professional Contracts

According to an Illinois Business Times article on April 5, the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners is chaired by an attorney whose law firm has received presumably no-bid contracts to lobby for city agencies, that is, contracts from the administration whose mayor and alders were...

Robert Wechsler
Partial withdrawal from participation is not a sufficient cure for an apparent conflict of interest. When there is any involvement, it can be seen as providing preferential treatment, as being unfair. Once again this is made clear, in the most controversial local government problem of the year:  a white police officer's killing of a black man in Ferguson, MO.

According to...
Robert Wechsler
According to an article yesterday in the Rockdale Citizen, Rockdale County, GA's county commission is having a debate on how to select its three-member ethics board and its alternates. Unfortunately, it's a debate that is being waged with no reference to best practices and almost no outside professional input. It's as if a debate about a construction project...
Robert Wechsler
According to an editorial in the Orange County (CA) Register this week, Orange County citizens will soon vote on an initiative that would make their county the second one to turn its campaign finance program over to the state's Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC). But the initiative's wording calls the FPPC "the ethics commission," which causes confusion, because many in the county...

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