making local government more ethical

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Robert Wechsler
When a city or county attorney's office does not represent the ethics commission, should that office play any role in an ethics proceeding? I don't believe it should.

But that is what happened recently in Cobb County, GA, according to an article last week in the Marietta Daily Journal. After an ethics complaint was...
Robert Wechsler
What should be done when an official withdraws from participation in a matter and gives a reason for withdrawal that appears to be false? Why would an official provide a false reason for withdrawal? There are at least two possible reasons:  (1) the real conflict situation would look worse than the given conflict situation, or (2) the real reason is that the official doesn't want to anger the people on either side of the matter, that is, the official really wants to abstain, but doesn't want to...
Robert Wechsler
What should an ethics program do when an agency or department takes ethics advice and enforcement into its own hands? This issue has arisen in Hawaii County, according to two articles in West Hawaii Today, one from two years ago, the other from last week.

Robert Wechsler
Sometimes Withdrawal and Formal Processes Are Not Enough
It never looks good when a high-level elected official gets a job with the government while in office or soon after leaving office. It looks like he got the job because of his influence and relationships with those who made the decision.

According to an article in the Observer-Reporter, the North...
Robert Wechsler
When a lawyer decides to represent a private client, she does not give up her right to vote or petition governments on her own behalf. But what about when a lawyer decides to represent a public client, especially as a lobbyist? Does such a lawyer give up her right to vote on issues relating to the city government (assuming she sits on another government's board) or petition a government on behalf of her own beliefs?

These questions arise from a case in Cincinnati, where a city...
Robert Wechsler
In a New York Times column today, Michael Powell has unearthed an ugly-looking government ethics situation in New Jersey involving apparent misuse of government ethics authority to win a vote.

The fact situation is fairly typical. What is not typical is the way it has been handled. A gas company is seeking permission to put a...