making local government more ethical

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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
When gifts from lobbyists to government officials are discussed, what they consist of is usually money (including campaign contributions), meals, trips, and services. A pending Missouri House bill  (2059; attached, see below) seeks to extend the definition of reportable "gift" from lobbyists in this context to include:

sexual relations between a registered lobbyist and a member of the general assembly or his or her staff. Relations between married persons or between persons...
Robert Wechsler
A couple of weeks ago, in a City and State column, veteran NYC reporter Wayne Barrett hit the nail on the head regarding the responsibility for failures to deal responsibly with conflicts of interest, specifically with respect to the conviction of former state assembly speaker Sheldon Silver, a Democrat:

Robert Wechsler

Local governments that lack a lobbying oversight program do not have to merely throw up their hands when a huge procurement matter arises. They have the choice to set rules for that matter which, if it works, may later be applied more generally.

This is the lesson that comes from the York, Ontario region which, according to a recent...

Robert Wechsler
When it comes to lobbying disclosure, local government agencies should lead the way. According to an article in the San Diego Reader, this is not the case with the San Diego Airport Authority, whose lobbying firm did not disclose any of the lobbying it did for the Authority in the first half of 2015.

According to the article, this summer the Authority...
Robert Wechsler

"At the end of the day, anybody could fall into a trap like I did."
— Former New York state senator Thomas W. Libous, after being sentenced to a $50,000 fine and probation for lying about the fact that he helped get his son a job with a local law firm and then arranged for a $50,000 payment to the law firm by a lobbying firm that represented clients with matters before him. It is rare for indirect pay to play to be prosecuted. It happened only because the senator lied about...