making local government more ethical

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Robert Wechsler

Laws are highly over-rated. This is one reason why the City Ethics Model Code Project is not just about codes, but the centerpiece of a wide-ranging discussion of all the issues involved in creating, improving, and maintaining local government ethics programs.

Laws may be too highly over-rated, but budgets and priorities are too often under-rated. Take Denver. Denver requires political candidates to disclose the employers and occupations of anyone who gives them $200 or more. And yet...

DonMc

We have been doing a lot of research into the scene in Iraq, and in doing so, I have formed an opinion regarding what single form of corruption has been the most significant in creating the situation there...
It is the selection of people for roles there based on political persuasion, rather than demonstrated competence in the required field. Of course other things have occurred that warrant mention, but in all cases, the sheer stupidity of some of those actions stems in most...

Robert Wechsler

A former chancellor of Maricopa Community College in Phoenix, Arizona continued to work for the college on contract, while also having a business on the side that did business with the college on a no-bid basis. The business was set up by the college when he was chancellor and was given to him a few months after he retired.

The former chancellor denies any conflict of interest because his business (Sedona Conferences and Conversations, which does business with colleges around the...

Robert Wechsler

In Isle La Motte, Vermont, according to a recent article in the Burlington Free Press, the longtime town clerk and treasurer diverted $100,000 of town funds to her own use. Before the town learned of this, its Selectboard (the town's elected executive board) had arranged to allow her to pay back the money along with interest and audit and legal expenses.

One member of...

Robert Wechsler

Personal interest vs. public interest is central to government ethics. We tend to think, however, that it's central to them (officials) not to us (citizens), and that we have nothing to learn from this sort of ethics. Well, we're wrong. Take flu shots, for instance. People get flu shots because they feel they are personally likely to be seriously harmed by the flu (older people, very young children) or likely to contract it (people who work in hospitals and schools).

But what if...

Robert Wechsler

Before I got around to putting up a blog entry on the ethics mess in Louisiana, it took a turn for the worse. What started as two legislators protecting the jobs, respectively, of their father and their brother, has turned into a full-fledged constitutional battle that could undermine the concept of recusal for conflicts of interest nationwide.

As it is now, ethics codes usually require that legislators, state and municipal, refrain from participating or voting in matters where they...

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