making local government more ethical

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Robert Wechsler
It is important to take state laws into account when drafting ethics provisions, especially in local governments that do not have home rule charters. Here are two situations in the news where this was not done, and ethics reform has been undermined. Dealing with the state laws from the beginning could have made the ethics codes, and the ethics reform process, far better.

Numerous Ethics Provisions Declared Illegal in Kane County, IL
According to...
Robert Wechsler
Just because it happens in New York City doesn't mean it will happen in the average city or, especially, town. Right? No, it can happen, only the numbers will probably be smaller. Two situations described in today's New York Times, both of them effectively centered on the hiring and failure to oversee consultants, are worth knowing about.

Elected Judges Selecting and Overseeing Distressed Property Receivers
The first one involves business property foreclosures...
Robert Wechsler
On December 6, according to an article on the Chicago Talks website, Chicago mayoral candidate Rahm Emanuel promised that he would make many ethics reforms to “change the culture” of corruption and cronyism at City Hall.

Emanuel said he would require city employees to wait two years after leaving their city jobs before lobbying their former colleagues. He...
Robert Wechsler
Two months ago, a book was published called The Jersey Sting, by two Star-Ledger reporters, Ted Sherman and Josh Margolin. It provides the history of an enormous federal sting operation which led to the arrest of dozens of government officials, most of them from local governments, on July 23, 2009 (see...
Robert Wechsler
In a letter to the editor in yesterday's New York Times, two lawyers who represent clients seeking to gut Arizona's Citizens Clean Elections public campaign financing program end by calling Arizona's program "a vision of unconstitutional dystopia, not free speech."

I administer the public campaign financing program in New Haven, CT. These programs are intended to...
Robert Wechsler
A Clever Use of Government Employees for Political Purposes
According to an article in the Miami Herald, it appears that the mayor of Miami-Dade County, currently facing a recall election, is playing a clever little game that involves the use of government employees for political purposes.

The administration "excused 12 county transit employees...

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