making local government more ethical

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Ethics Commissions/Administration

Robert Wechsler
A new online collaborative effort in the field of campaign finance was launched yesterday. Known as the SUN Center (SUN stands for States’ Unified Network, even though it includes cities or, at this point, city), it is intended, according to a press release announcing the launch, for the sharing of "innovative ideas, strategies and legislation related...
Robert Wechsler
Is it too much to ask that an ethics commission member lead the way, set an example, with respect to the single most important aspect of a government ethics program:  ethics advice?

According to an article last week in the Winston-Salem Journal, a member of the North Carolina ethics commission entered into a $312,000 contract with the state,...
Robert Wechsler
There is usually another side of the coin, and that other side is often ignored in drafting a government ethics code. The other side of the nepotism coin came up recently in an ethics proceeding in Stamford, CT.

According to an article this week in the Stamford Advocate, a former finance board member filed an ethics complaint against a former...
Robert Wechsler
"It was like dandelions. You just accept them. They were there, something you've seen all your life."

Dandelions are a perfect metaphor for institutional corruption. In this case, the dandelions were extra payments (beyond those due to retirees) made by Detroit's two pension funds, to active employees (54%), retirees (14%), and the city itself (32%), the latter to lower annual contributions to the funds, according to...
Robert Wechsler
I wrote about it in a June 2011 blog post, and then again in a June 2012 post, but it hasn't gone away. In fact, it became a big issue again this week when the Atlanta Journal-Constitution provided new evidence...
Robert Wechsler
This is the second of three posts on how Richard W. Painter's recommendations for federal ethics reform in his book, Getting the Government America Deserves: How Ethics Reform Can Make a Difference (Oxford U.P., 2009), may be applied to local government ethics programs.

At the federal level, many ethics rules are made by the ethics...