making local government more ethical

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Political Activity/Patronage

Robert Wechsler
Political activity by local government employees can be a sign of misuse of office. And when election problems arise, they generally involve local government employees, as has happened in Essex County (NJ; home of Newark), according to an article in Friday's Star-Ledger.

The principal problem with political activity involves patronage, the...
Robert Wechsler

Good and Bad News from Memphis
The good news from Memphis is that newly-elected mayor A. C. Wharton, Jr. issued an ethics executive order last week (attached; see below). The order's provisions, which do not apply to council and its staff, are less valuable in their own right than as a prod to the council to improve the current ethics code.

The order's provisions are to be...
Robert Wechsler
It's been a year since the Council on Governmental Ethics Laws (COGEL), the association of state and local government ethics professionals, met in Cook County, IL. But the day before COGEL meets in Scottdale, AZ, it's time to take another look at one of America's most unethical counties, which includes Chicago.

This time the focus is on the county's townships. The problem is summed up professionally in the abstract to a paper published last year. It's called...
Robert Wechsler
According to an article in the Times-Herald, a Montgomery County (PA) judge ruled that the county commissioners do not have authority to prohibit employees of the district attorney or sheriff's offices from participating in political activities or running for office.

This is an unusual rule. Generally, the limitation of political activity by local government...
Robert Wechsler
In your county, a major corruption investigation is being conducted by the FBI. Already, nearly twenty county employees, city building inspectors, and businessmen have pleaded guilty (see an earlier blog post on the investigation). Others are holding out. What do you do?

The usual answer is to create an effective ethics program. In Cuyahoga County, which includes Cleveland, two sets of officials are instead talking about the...
Robert Wechsler
Some news in Greensboro, NC led me to a blog post on old news in Greenburgh, NY, so here's the new news and the old news about two cities with nearly the same name.

In Greensboro, NC, a council candidate has thrown down a challenge to fill out and post online the state financial disclosure form. It's not quite appropriate, since all its references are to the state, but it does require a good deal of...