making local government more ethical

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Political Activity/Patronage

Robert Wechsler
A three-year FBI investigation of Cuyahoga County (which includes Cleveland) appears to have begun with a sting operation involving building inspectors, where an undercover agent offered bribes, and they were accepted, according to an article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer...
Robert Wechsler
The two best defenses against dealing responsibly with a conflict are that the local government attorney told me it was okay, and I didn't know there was a conflict. The first can be dealt with by getting the local government attorney out of the government ethics picture. But the second requires something few local government ethics codes require: applicant disclosure.

Applicant disclosure is a disclosure of interests and relationships when an individual or firm applies for money...
Robert Wechsler
See Update Below
The accusations made by New York's Inspector General that the executive director of New York's Commission on Public Integrity leaked information about an investigation to a close associate of the target of the investigation (the governor) are very upsetting. But there are two important lessons to be learned here.

One, ethics commissions should be as independent as possible, so that when such things occur, it is clear that they are personal rather than...
Robert Wechsler
Most of the Illinois Reform Commission's report, which was published yesterday, has little to do with local government ethics, but there is enough overlap to make it worth skimming through. The IRC was charged with recommending changes in the state's ethics and campaign finance programs.

Of special interest is the section entitled Inspiring Better Government (p. 73 of...
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?

This question arises from a column by Bob Herbert in Tuesday's New...
Robert Wechsler
The ethics provision that is probably most consistently violated is the one about political activity in city or county hall.

The City Ethics Model Code Project version reads as follows:
    An official, employee, or municipal candidate may not knowingly request, or authorize anyone else to request, that any subordinate or potential future subordinate participate in an election campaign or make a political...

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