making local government more ethical

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Robert Wechsler
In February, I wrote seven blog posts applying some of the concepts and practices of nonviolence to the field of government ethics. This is effectively an eighth post. This time the inspiration is not a book, but the latest issue of the journal New Routes, entitled "Peace Without Borders: Regional Peacebuilding in...
Robert Wechsler
Annapolis is an unusual little city in many ways. It may only have 40,000 residents, but it's the state capital, the county seat, the home of the U.S. Naval Academy, and equidistant, and not far, from Baltimore and Washington, D.C. With respect to government ethics, the county for which it is the county seat, Anne Arundel County, has a relatively good ethics program, complete with an executive director, which is very...
Robert Wechsler
On November 29, Florida State University’s LeRoy Collins Institute and the new good government group Integrity Florida released a report entitled "Florida Counties Bridge the Ethics Policy Gap", which analyzes the results of a survey of government ethics programs and reforms in 45 of Florida’s 67 counties.

Besides a lot of statistics of the sort lacking in local government ethics, this report...
Robert Wechsler
One of the most important ways of preventing ethical misconduct usually does not appear in an ethics code, because it does not involve a traditional conflict of interest. I am referring to non-legislative roles played by local legislators, especially roles that enable them to create a pay-to-play environment. These roles are played in the two principal areas where ethical misconduct occurs:  procurement and land use decisions.

In past blog posts, I have focused on land use...
Robert Wechsler
According to an investigative article on Nashville's WTVF-TV site yesterday evening, a former property assessor had help from a developer in disposing of her home and buying one from the developer, and also undervalued nine of the developer's properties by a total of $9.5 million over three years.

The assessor says that the developer offered the...
Robert Wechsler
One of the wonderful things about local government ethics is that every mayor or county executive feels qualified to act as if he was establishing the first local government ethics program ever. It's sort of like choosing what will go in a bento box, except that there are no rules (e.g., only one sushi roll, or you've got to have miso or the clear soup).

A new bento box is being put together in the infamous Prince George's County, MD. It was only a year and a half ago that...