making local government more ethical

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Robert Wechsler
One of the most important ways of preventing ethical misconduct usually does not appear in an ethics code, because it does not involve a traditional conflict of interest. I am referring to non-legislative roles played by local legislators, especially roles that enable them to create a pay-to-play environment. These roles are played in the two principal areas where ethical misconduct occurs:  procurement and land use decisions.

In past blog posts, I have focused on land use...
Robert Wechsler
Yet Another Mayoral Charity Mess, This Time in Toronto
According to an article in the Toronto Star this week and another in the Globe and Mail yesterday, today Toronto's...
Robert Wechsler

This post looks at the final three essays in Corruption and American Politics, an essay collection edited by Michael A. Genovese and Victoria A. Farrar-Meyers (Cambria, 2011).

Pay to Play in the Municipal Bond Market
In "Influence Peddling and Voter Suppression," Thomas A. Hollihan looks at the municipal bond market, where sweetheart deals have...
Robert Wechsler
A New Use of a Nonprofit as a Conduit
Pay to play appears to be as creative a field as cellphone apps. An article in the Washington Examiner on Sunday points to a new way to get developer money into an official's pockets via a nonprofit organization. A zoning agreement stipulated that the developer would donate $55,000 to the Business Council as...
Robert Wechsler
A big controversy surrounding the race for mayor of Honolulu is focused on the state's pay-to-play culture of the past, and what pay to play actually is. The reason for this is that a former Hawaii governor is running for mayor, and he is being supported by Bob Watada, a former state Campaign Spending Commission executive director who is known for bringing the state's pay-to-play culture to its knees during his 1994-2005 term in office.

According to...
Robert Wechsler
If you read the newspapers and blogs, the big issues in the Chicago Chick-fil-A controversy are free speech and government boycotts. But it's really a government ethics issue.

All rational voices acknowledge that a local legislator should not block a store opening just because it has given large sums to help an unpopular political cause. What they aren't saying is that a local legislator shouldn't be able to block a store opening in his district at all. Zoning matters should not be...