making local government more ethical

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Complicity and Knowledge

Robert Wechsler
A Failure to Respond to an Ethics Complaint
It's always interesting to see how many ways there are not to deal with ethics complaints. When you think you've seen them all, a new one comes out of nowhere.

In this case, nowhere is Taylor, Michigan, a city of 65,000 outside Detroit. According to an article in the News-Herald on Saturday...
Robert Wechsler
I recently read a book by Stanley Cavell called Cities of Words: Pedagogical Letters on a Register of the Moral Life (2004). Despite its title, it is not about cities; in fact, much of the book uses movies to discuss this Harvard professor's ethical philosophy. What is relevant about this book to government ethics is Cavell's idea of "moral perfectionism," which isn't about being...
Robert Wechsler
Investigations of purported ethics violations by the Middlesex County (MA) sheriff apparently led to his suicide on Saturday. According to a Boston Globe chronology, the sheriff filed papers for retirement on October 28, while running for re-election on November 2. His plan was to get a pension and a salary.
Robert Wechsler
I find it fascinating that, although kickbacks (also known as "thanks giving") are one of the central elements of unethical conduct in local governments, I have only mentioned them three times in my blog posts.

Kickbacks are a dirty secret for one principal reason:  they are difficult to prove. Along with bribes, they require hard-to-obtain proof to tie money to conduct. Coincidentally, these are the two forms of conduct that the Supreme Court, in...
Robert Wechsler
The spread of corruption from local to state to national is often ignored. And when corruption is discovered, there is much litigation. In fact, it's often hard to see corruption clearly here in the U.S. That's why the occasional look at corruption abroad is useful, like looking in an only slightly distorted mirror.
Robert Wechsler
Another interesting ethics matter is raised in the article on the school board member in Santa Clara County (CA), which I discussed earlier today.

The DA's office notes that the contractor, for whom the school board member had worked as...