making local government more ethical

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States and Municipal Ethics

Robert Wechsler
When is a conflict sufficient to require an official to resign (or not take a position in the first place)? This question involves a lot of gray area, and little black and white. What sorts of interest are enough to undermine public trust, and what sorts of interest provide opportunities for officials to benefit unfairly from their positions? Here are three recent situations where an official's external job was seen or not seen as creating a conflict serious enough to require resignation...
Robert Wechsler
Ethics training is a problem at the local level. It's expensive, and there aren't many experienced local government ethics trainers around. Online ethics training has recently become the answer, but even this is difficult to get people to do. As I wrote a couple of years ago in a blog entry and a comment to the City Ethics Model Code, many officials...
Robert Wechsler
So much of government ethics involves the contrast, and sometimes the collision, between ethics and law. Too often the personal aspect of government ethics is overlooked. All three get twisted together in a very simple matter that occurred last week in the Escondido (CA) city council, according to an article in the North County Times.
Robert Wechsler
I hate to harp so often on the problem of ethics matters being handled by criminal authorities, but when I read an article in the Nogales (AZ) International that begins as follows, I get angry.
    While there was “ample evidence of incompetence,” it took more than two years for Nils Urman, former Santa Cruz County Commerce and Economic Development Director, to...
Robert Wechsler
Special districts are an important and growing form of local government, and yet they often fly beneath the radar. In fact, I've only mentioned them once in my blog. And most citizens have no idea what they are or that they exist in their area (I myself can't name one in my area). For this reason, conflicts of interest involving special districts also remain, for the most part, invisible.

Special districts are set...