making local government more ethical

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Transparency

Robert Wechsler
One of the news media's biggest problems is failing to look at the big picture and, instead, focusing on specific events and issues. This is especially true when it comes to government ethics, where the news media generally considers, and calls for, ethics reforms on a piecemeal basis.

An article on the Innovateli website yesterday shows that this same limited vision applies when a government ethics reform involves the...
Robert Wechsler
In my chapter on local lobbying, I argue that even quarterly disclosure of lobbying activities is not sufficiently timely and that lobbyists' disclosures should be supplemented by the disclosures of high-level officials. According to an article in Sunday's San...
Robert Wechsler
Lobbyist Extortion
According to an article yesterday on Columbus, Ohio's NBC 4 website, a lobbyist for a red-light camera company pleaded guilty to charges that he solicited campaign contributions for elected city officials from his client by creating the impression that the money was needed to bribe the city officials. The lobbyist had helped the company win the city contract...
Robert Wechsler
What are the government ethics implications of private security when it goes beyond protecting specific businesses, malls, universities, and gated communities, becomes an adjunct to or replacement of an ordinary police force, and is done in conjunction with the public police force and, often, using off-duty public police officers?

Favoritism
One problem is that such private forces generally protect the most wealthy neighborhoods. Setting up a neighborhood force with the...
Robert Wechsler
Robert E. Goodin's book Manipulatory Politics (Yale Univ. Press, 1980) is valuable for its "cataloguing [of] various modes of political manipulation," as the author wrote in his Preface. Goodin found only a few of the cases "ethically worrisome," but the fact that I disagree does not make the catalog any less valuable.

Definitions
Goodin's definition of "manipulation" is "power...
Robert Wechsler
David A. Marcello, the Executive Director of the Public Law Center at Tulane University Law School in New Orleans, has been keeping close tabs on New Orleans' troubled ethics program. In 2011, he published a report on how Hurricane Katrina (2005) led New Orleans' officials to turn a moribund ethics program into one...

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