making local government more ethical

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Complaints/ Investigations/Hearings

Robert Wechsler
Two former public works employees are in the news this week for misconduct.

Robert Wechsler
Here's a mind-twister of a situation, from St. Marys City (GA; pop 17,000). According to an article on, four members of the city council wrote the state attorney general asking for a ruling on whether a fifth council member violated state law by refusing to disqualify himself from voting on the proposed relocation of the St. Marys Airport...
Robert Wechsler
Update - see below (9/2/09)
One of the biggest limitations on local government ethics codes can be state ethics laws. In Connecticut, for example, state laws seriously limit how much local ethics commissions can fine violators of an ethics code. In fact, the language is so vague, many lawyers insist that local ethics commissions can't fine at all. State legislators, most of whom are former local government legislators, don't want to let local ethics commissions get out of hand...
Robert Wechsler
Open Records Requests and Ethics Proceedings
In an unusual twist on the confidentiality of ethics proceedings, counsel for the Colorado Springs mayor's former client, the person who gave rise to the mayor's apparent conflict of interest, has made an open records request for all documents related to the ethics proceeding against the mayor, according to an article in the Colorado...
Robert Wechsler
Update: June 29, 2010 (see below)

I thought I would never write about anything concerning Gov. Sarah Palin again, but the report on an ethics complaint against her, regarding the fund created to pay the legal expenses from her defense against prior ethics complaints, is too interesting and valuable to ignore.

The report (attached; see below) deals with two provisions that appear in most local government ethics codes:  misuse of office and gifts. The report's...
Robert Wechsler
Nepotism is often left out of ethics codes because it does not seem all that unethical. Another reason for leaving nepotism out is that it is so common, especially in the uniformed departments, that local government officials are afraid to touch it. When nepotism rules do appear, they often provide for grandfathering in current nepotism, and for waivers, even if waivers are not available for other ethics code violations.