making local government more ethical

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Ethics Commissions/Administration

Robert Wechsler
Here is the story of a good settlement reached in an Ohio ethics proceeding involving a council member from a very small city. According to a recent article in the Canton Rep, the council member voted on an addendum to the lease of a golf course despite the fact that he lived on adjoining property. He admitted to having violated the state's conflict of interest provision, but the state ethics...
Robert Wechsler
According to an article yesterday in the Seguin (TX) Gazette, there will be a perfectly ordinary local government ethics occurrence next Monday in Seguin, a town of 25,000 outside San Antonio: the city's ethics commission will meet in closed session to discuss a recently filed ethics complaint.

There doesn't seem to be anything wrong with this. But there are two...
Robert Wechsler
The Boss of the Ethics Director's Bosses
According to an article this week in the Free Times, an FOI lawsuit was filed against South Carolina's ethics commission, because its director had said that a letter informing the governor of an ethics violation had not been sent and had been destroyed, when in fact it was sent and did exist.

Not only...
Robert Wechsler
In 2008, New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine established a special task force to take a look at the state's local government ethics program. In September 2010, the task force filed a report that recommended substantial changes to the program (attached; see below). Nothing was done.

The state's local government ethics rules were set to expire in September of this year. The Local Finance Board, which administers...
Robert Wechsler
Crowdfunding is a 21st-century way of funding projects that are not being funded by the government, the stock market, venture capitalists, or even angel investors. But it's really not as 21st-century as people think. For example, the Statue of Liberty's pedestal was crowdfunded back in 1885 (without the Internet, the crowdfunding was led by Joseph Pulitzer, the publisher of New York World newspaper).

Very few local government ethics programs are funded at all, and those that...
Robert Wechsler
I've been writing a lot about government ethics and behavioral psychology over the last few years. I consider some of the findings of behavioral psychology, especially about blind spots, essential to understanding what leads to ethical misconduct and, therefore, essential to ethics training, ethics advice, and ethics enforcement. But behavioral psychology has not yet been embraced by American government ethics programs, at least as far as I have seen.

The first reason that comes to...