making local government more ethical

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Contractors and Vendors

Robert Wechsler

Local governments that lack a lobbying oversight program do not have to merely throw up their hands when a huge procurement matter arises. They have the choice to set rules for that matter which, if it works, may later be applied more generally.

This is the lesson that comes from the York, Ontario region which, according to a recent...

Robert Wechsler
The big news in local government ethics yesterday was the publication of the final report of Quebec's Charbonneau Commission, which investigated bid rigging in the Montreal area, involving not only government officials and contractors, but also the Mafia and Hells Angels (see my 2012 blog post on the investigation).

The bad news is that...
Robert Wechsler
I have all but called for prohibiting mayoral golf tournaments and similar pet nonprofit events, because they are an unnecessary form of pay to play that is legal primarily because they help good causes in the community. China, which tends to take things too far, has gone extremely far in the latest order of the Communist Party's Central Committee, according to...
Robert Wechsler
Seattle's public campaign financing Initiative I-122 passed easily on Tuesday. It should prove to be an excellent experiment in campaign finance vouchers, an idea that has been batted about at the federal level, as well.

Here's how it works. Each election cycle (two years) the city's ethics commission will mail four $25 vouchers to each registered voter, to be given, if they choose, to any...
Robert Wechsler
Considering that it reflects a typical approach to lobbying, it is valuable to look at the language of a resolution to improve Austin's lobbying oversight program (attached; see below). It is also valuable to consider the opposition to this resolution by a coalition of local architects, engineers, and contractors, according to an article in the Austin Monitor this week.
Robert Wechsler
Rarely do agencies' own lobbyists get caught by their agency breaking agency rules on communications. This is what just happened in Houston. According to an article last night on Houston's Channel 13 website, an individual who, under a contract, lobbies state and federal officials for the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, TX (METRO) disclosed that he had spoken with a judge...