making local government more ethical

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Robert Wechsler
It's important to be careful when it comes to conflicts of interest, but it's also important not to be too careful. When you're too careful, you send the wrong message to members of the community and you miseducate them about government ethics.

This is what happened this week in my own town of North Haven, Connecticut. According to an article in the July 16 North Haven Citizen, the first...
Robert Wechsler
A Poor Approach to Being Ethical
It's great when candidates talk up acting ethically. But it's going too far, and setting a bad precedent, when a candidate takes a lie-detector test in which he says that he never engaged in unethical activities in private- or public-sector work, as reported in the Moultrie (GA) Observer.

The candidate said...
Robert Wechsler
I recently wrote a blog post about a false statements in elections law in Ohio, and the problems with enforcing such laws. I have often written about the problems with self-enforcement of ethics laws. In the Wisconsin case of a state supreme court justice's misrepresentations in an election ad, the two have come together, big-time. The result is far more injurious, even crippling, to public trust in the...
Robert Wechsler
There's an interesting issue at the heart of a judicial inquiry into possible misconduct by the mayor of Mississauga, Ontario. The council sought the inquiry to “investigate any supposed breach of trust or other misconduct of a Member of Council, an employee of the municipality or person having a contract with the municipality” and to inquire into “any matter connected with the good government of the municipality or the conduct of any part of its public business." In short, it is an open-ended...
Robert Wechsler
Note: I completely rewrote this post after Mark Davies set me straight about the state law on which disclosure forms an official must file.

Poor draftsmanship of ethics codes can cause serious ethical problems. This is certainly true of New York Municipal Law §811(1)(b), which put Suffolk...
Robert Wechsler
How many wrongs does it take to make a right?

According to a Sun-Sentinel article, a county commissioner in Broward County, home of Ft. Lauderdale, resigned on Tuesday after being arrested on seven counts of...