making local government more ethical

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Ethics Codes

Robert Wechsler
Many of the most difficult situations in government ethics involve relationships that are not direct. For example, situations where the company that provides a benefit does not do business with the local government, but is owned by someone who owns another company that does do business with or have an interest in legislation before the local government (click here for a recent example). Technically, the company...
Robert Wechsler
Dallas council members' control over development in their districts led earlier this month to the conviction of one council member and four associates for extortion.

Now the Dallas mayor, Tom Leppert, is effectively forcing the hand of the city council to enact...
Robert Wechsler
According to an article in this week's Atlanta Journal-Constitution, a rule prohibiting Georgia state employees from accepting gifts over $25 is not being enforced. At all.

How does the paper know these gifts are being made? Because lobbyists have to disclose their spending on state employees as well as on legislators (who are not restricted from taking such gifts). Governor...
Robert Wechsler
This week, Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox announced a "toolbox" for local governments to create local ethics policies. Local government ethics is already governed by state statutes, but local governments can apparently supplement these rules with local laws and ethics boards. The toolbox consists of a ...
Robert Wechsler

Updates: November 28, 2009 (see below, with December 23 correction)

When a local government official co-owns a company, is it enough to create a separate company owned solely by another co-owner to do business with the official's city?

Robert Wechsler
Is political deal-making a government ethics violation? This is a tough area. Government ethics is about the conflict of personal and public interests. Political interests are generally left out of the equation unless non-political benefits are involved. In politics, you are allowed to put your personal interests first, at least until you win.

According to an article in yesterday's Atlanta ...