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Ethics Codes

Robert Wechsler
State or local ethics laws, state or local ethics training, state or local disclosure forms, state or local ethics enforcement? This is probably the biggest issue in local government ethics. And it's a very complicated one, which I have only rarely dealt with. There are good (and bad) arguments on both sides, as well as practical, political, constitutional, and funding considerations to take into account.

I raise this matter not to deal with all its aspects, but due to reading...
Robert Wechsler
I recently wrote about the problem of having a toothless ethics commission in a Connecticut city. According to an article in yesterday's Danbury News-Times, it's good that another Connecticut municipality's ethics commission is toothless.

But the story has less to do with teeth than it has to do with what government ethics is all about. It's that word "ethics" again. Ethics is about good...
Robert Wechsler
Every time I check up on Jackson County, MO, I find something more that's shameful, if that word can be used anymore. This time a blog sent me to a You Tube video of the county legislature passing the new ethics ordinance, which I discussed in a blog entry earlier this week. Eight minutes of parliamentary procedure and slapping each other on the back...
Robert Wechsler
In many states without state enforcement of local government ethics, the compromise position pushed particularly by local government officials is to have the state mandate local ethics codes, but let local governments decide what's right for them. The motto of this position is, "One size does not fit all."

Size does matter, but not nearly as much as is often asserted. A strong ethics code is right for every size town or county. Larger cities and counties can use the same provisions...
Robert Wechsler
Two months ago, I wrote a blog entry about the en masse resignation of the Jackson County (MO) ethics commission, and said that this was a sign that things were seriously wrong in that county. Little did I know.

Robert Wechsler
A favorite ploy in local government ethics is for a council to vote for an ethics code that includes an ethics commission, and then either not actually appoint members to the commission or, when they resign, not fill their seats, so that there is, effectively, no enforcement mechanism.

But a legislative body cannot do this when it self-enforces. It has to be more creative. The Tennessee House has just that sort of creativity. According to...