making local government more ethical

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Advisory Opinions

Robert Wechsler
When it comes to post-employment restrictions, a mayor should not be considered as just a member of the legislative or executive branch, no matter what the form of government (strong mayor or mayor-council). A mayor has a special status that sets her apart from other local officials. Post-employment restrictions that apply only to one's branch or agency should not be relevant to a mayor. During the cooling-off period, a mayor should not do business with or lobby the government at all.
Robert Wechsler
Ethics Code Amendment Without a Scandal
Sometimes conflict situations, when they are handled responsibly, lead to changes in an ethics code. This happened recently in Prince William County, Virginia, according to an article on the website.

A county supervisor wanted to give $100,000 of his discretionary funds to his...
Robert Wechsler
Providing incentives to attract companies or get them to expand their operations in a city or county has always been a controversial issue. Incentives are seen as necessary to attract, keep, or expand jobs locally, but they can also be an unnecessary way to get local governments into bidding wars (or what is presented to them as a bidding war) with other local governments, to the benefit of companies who are going to build or expand no matter what local governments offer.

Robert Wechsler
There is a section of my new book Local Government Ethics Programs (click and scroll down to subsection 9) on the need for more transparency in the provision of ethics advice. What I just realized is that this is another government ethics topic on which Stephen Colbert, who has...
Robert Wechsler
Erosion of an ethics program can occur in many ways (see the section of my book on backsliding). In Louisiana (where the state ethics program has jurisdiction over local officials), there has been a great deal of erosion, regarding the ethics board's role in the ethics process, the standard of proof, and the exemption of state...
Robert Wechsler
One of the things that always fascinates me is that, while politicians have no problem asking experts legal, financial, engineering, or human resource questions, they feel they know what they need to know about government ethics questions.

Take D.C. council member Vincent Orange. According to an article yesterday on the WAMU-FM website, for the third time he introduced a...