making local government more ethical

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Post-Employment/Revolving Door

Robert Wechsler
City Attorney Ethics Enforcement in San Francisco
An article in the San Francisco Chronicle this week says that the city attorney filed a lawsuit against a former member of the board of supervisors (the city's legislative body) who acted as a lobbyist, but failed to register (in arguing that he was acting as an attorney, the supervisor pointed to an...
Robert Wechsler
Government officials leaving office do not have to do just the minimum necessary to help gain the public's trust. They can do a lot more. And they can even make the rules they're following clear, so that they suggest an alternative to others and provide guidance.

What is needed are role models. Jesse Eisinger of ProPublica wrote about two possible role models in his New York Times column on Thursday. One is Sheila Bair, former head of the FDIC who, in order to prevent conflicts, was...
Robert Wechsler
Over the last few decades, governments have privatized many of their functions. One function that governments have begun privatizing in recent years is lobbying higher-level governments. Since every government is at a higher level than a local government (think not just regional, state, and federal, but numerous agencies at each of these levels), local government has the most lobbying to do.

Most local government lobbyists are in-house (or officials do the lobbying themselves), but...
Robert Wechsler
It's Not the Dead Bodies, It's the Living Ones
"He knows where the bodies are buried at Metro." According to a local mayor as quoted in an article yesterday in the Surrey North Delta Leader, this is an important qualification for someone going from Metro Vancouver (BC) treasurer to lobbyist for the company that runs the local landfill. It just so happens that the mayor's town is working with...
Robert Wechsler
I am a proponent of ethics waivers. But only if they are provided by an independent ethics commission. When they are provided by high-level officials or their appointees, they appear to be self-serving. Why self-serving? Because they create precedents that will enable those who make the precedents to themselves get ethics waivers.

Westchester County, NY has an ethics waiver process that allows the county legislative body to provide waivers. According to...
Robert Wechsler
The first blog post on the West Palm Beach Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) matter looked at it from the point of view of the timing of withdrawal from participation. This post will look at it from the point of view of post-employment issues. A third post will look at this matter in the context of multiple CRA problems in Florida.

The West Palm Beach matter raises the...

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