making local government more ethical

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Robert Wechsler
In The Kingdom of Individuals (Cornell University Press, 1993), F. G. Bailey's principal concern is what he calls svejks (pronounced "shvikes"), that is, individuals in organizations who put their personal, but not usually financial interests ahead of the organization, and yet act as if they are loyal to...
Robert Wechsler
Update: February 19, 2010 (see below)

This blog post is about Chicago, and things are more complicated in Chicago than in other American municipalities. So please read slowly and carefully.

According to an article in yesterday's Chicago Tribune, the first deputy in the mayor's Office of Compliance resigned a few weeks after...
Robert Wechsler
It's not an unfamiliar story. Council candidates promise ethics reform. They are elected, and actually fulfill their promises with a proposed ethics ordinance. But there's not really much to the proposed ethics ordinance, and there's no enforcement mechanism.

This is what is happening in Yorba Linda (pop. 71,000), just outside Anaheim. The...
Robert Wechsler
DuPage County, IL, a county of nearly a million people just outside Chicago (its largest town is Naperville), is juggling two ethics ordinance revision processes, one for the county, the other for the county election commission. Both appear to have attracted some controversy.

Robert Wechsler
I was in Chicago for the Council on Governmental Ethics Laws annual conference for a week, which is why I haven't been blogging lately. I was there when Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich was arrested, so the arrest and the tales of selling a Senate seat and blackmailing the Chicago Tribune are old news now. But there are a couple of interesting facts about the situation which have been largely ignored.
Robert Wechsler
My state, Connecticut, has just added itself to the at least 14 states that provide for public official pension forfeiture. Like some of the other states, its new law covers municipal officials.

Pension forfeiture is the capital punishment of government ethics.  It makes legislators look like they care about ethics, and it makes people feel that justice has been done. And with all these "good" emotions sparking supportive editorials, few think about the arguments pro and con, or...