making local government more ethical

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Advisory Opinions

Robert Wechsler
A post yesterday in Coates' Canons: NC Local Government Law Blog raises an interesting issue about the situation of a local government candidate who has an interest in a contract with the local government which, by NC law, is prohibited not for candidates, but for a winning candidate the day he or she takes office. This provides a good occasion to look at the intersection of candidates and local government ethics...
Robert Wechsler
How many hats can a local government attorney wear when it comes to government ethics? This question arises out of a state bar grievance filed against Houston's city attorney by a member of the city council.

According to an article in the Houston Chronicle last week, the council member alleged that the city...
Robert Wechsler
A trash board member attends a homeowners association meeting to talk about potential changes to the city’s residential trash service. Also in attendance is a representative from the company that has the city's landfill contract. After the trash board member makes a short speech, she leaves the meeting and asks the company representative to answer questions from the audience. This was apparently not planned.

The city's trash collector, under a contract up for renewal and for which...
Robert Wechsler
Update: June 30, 2011 (see below)

One thing you can say for James Bopp, Jr. (an attorney who has taken many campaign finance cases to the Supreme Court for organizations that oppose certain campaign finance regulations) is that he doesn't beat around the bush. He's a straight shooter. The problem is the "shooter" part. Shooting is not what people should do when it comes to ethics advice.

According to...
Robert Wechsler
Good news:  Westminster is not alone. No, I am not referring to the British Parliament or the New York dog show. I am referring to the Westminster, CO law that says that a campaign contributor has a relationship with the recipient of a sizeable campaign contribution that gives rise to a conflict of interest and requires the recipient's withdrawal from participation in any matter involving the contributor (see my blog post on...
Robert Wechsler
"The appropriate authority" is a vague phrase to base a major ethics reform proposal on, but that is just what the District of Columbia's draft Comprehensive Ethics Reform Act of 2011 does.

Introduced Tuesday by the council chair, this act is neither comprehensive nor does it create the accountability that the name of the new ethics office, the Office of Government Accountability,...