making local government more ethical

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Political Activity/Patronage

Robert Wechsler
The most underrated aspect of accountability is the need for government officials to honestly and publicly explain why they do what they do. This need is strongest for two groups of officials:  elected representatives and their watchdogs.

It is, therefore, painful to see the chair of a major county board of ethics refusing to even speak to the press about his own possible conflict of interest. You can see it, too, in...
Robert Wechsler
There are several problems with Houston's new ethics provisions, in addition to what I pointed out in my last blog post. Some of them are typical, some of them are unusual. The ethics reform ordinance is attached; see below; the old ethics ordinance can be found by clicking here and scrolling down on the left to Code of Ordinances Chapter 18).

Impropriety and...
Robert Wechsler
I've written before about some of the problems relating to the Hatch Act's prohibition of local government employees running for office if their agency gets any funding from the federal government (1 2). Jason C. Miller has written an article for the Southern...
Robert Wechsler
"You say that [we are] corrupt and I'll jump over this table and punch you out." Those are the words of Philadelphia city commissioner Margaret Tartaglione, according to an article in yesterday's Philadelphia Inquirer. She was upset by a journalist's questions regarding the handling of elections in Philadelphia.

What got the...
Robert Wechsler
Investigations of purported ethics violations by the Middlesex County (MA) sheriff apparently led to his suicide on Saturday. According to a Boston Globe chronology, the sheriff filed papers for retirement on October 28, while running for re-election on November 2. His plan was to get a pension and a salary.

When interviewed...
Robert Wechsler
The spread of corruption from local to state to national is often ignored. And when corruption is discovered, there is much litigation. In fact, it's often hard to see corruption clearly here in the U.S. That's why the occasional look at corruption abroad is useful, like looking in an only slightly distorted mirror.

This is true of an Indian matter written about in yesterday's New...