making local government more ethical

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Robert Wechsler
In third world countries, corruption is said to grease the wheels of commerce. We don't like to believe that this is true in the U.S., and we certainly don't have to grease the palms of ordinary government employees in order to get any service.

But what would happen if pay-to-play were truly brought to its knees?

Robert Wechsler
An article in yesterday's New York Times points to yet another clever end run around ethics laws involving municipal bonds. Bond underwriters are not allowed to make campaign contributions, to prevent a pay-to-play environment. However, financial advisers, the people who hook local governments up with bond underwriters, are allowed to make campaign contributions. And so they do, in large...
Robert Wechsler
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It's refreshing to feel good after reading a mayor's statement in response to a warrant for his arrest. According to an article in today's Hartford Courant, Hartford Mayor Eddie Perez...
Robert Wechsler
Here's a more interesting story out of Massachusetts, this one from the state Senate. Former state senator Dianne Wilkerson admits having accepted up to $70,000 from friends and supporters in what is being called personal fundraising, that is, raising money to pay off personal debts. She says that the gifts were approved by the state ethics commission and by lawyers. She...
Robert Wechsler

There are municipal ethics issues that will never find their way into any ethics code, but which should certainly be covered in ethics training courses. Many of these issues involve the relationship between government and businesses.

If there were no money to be made in and through municipal government, there would be far less need for ethics programs. Power does corrupt, but it's no accident that corruption so often involves relations with developers and contractors. It's also no...