making local government more ethical

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Ethics Commissions/Administration

Robert Wechsler
The Council on Governmental Ethics Laws (COGEL), an association of American and Canadian practitioners in the areas of conflicts of interest, campaign finance, transparency, elections, and lobbying, is looking into the possibility of offering certification programs in these areas. I assume the courses would be both about the topics and about administering programs in these areas. It might involve giving credits for attending sessions at the annual COGEL conference (it's in Pittsburgh this year...
Robert Wechsler
There are three interesting issues in this one minor matter, involving a Louisiana sheriff's purchase of a house at a foreclosure sale handled by the sheriff's office.

The Application of Ethics Laws to Foreclosure Purchases
The first issue involves the transaction itself, the particular law in Louisiana, and how more common conflict laws may be interpreted in such a situation.

Louisiana has an unusual law that deals with this sort of transaction:...
Robert Wechsler
A must-read for lobbying reformers! A series of fascinating amendments that were made to New York City's lobbying law last December will take effect this month. There are some reforms here that I've never seen anywhere else, and they raise some issues that need to be more widely discussed.

The amendments, made in Local Law 129 (attached; see below), are based on recommendations made by a special reform task force, the...
Robert Wechsler
An Oakland Ethics Reform Proposal
According to an article this week in the Mercury News, an Oakland, CA council member has proposed to more than triple the city ethics commission's staff, expand its oversight powers to include campaign finance and lobbying (currently handled by the city clerk), have its executive director report to the commission, and...
Robert Wechsler
Sometimes even a wrongheaded ethics complaint can do good, by showing how wrongheaded a town's government ethics program is.

According to an editorial in The Day this week, the head of a local political party, Independence for Montville, filed an ethics complaint alleging that a former council member who owns a hot dog stand pushed to have the town's street vendor law changed so that street...
Robert Wechsler
The mayor of Miami-Dade County has announced the formation of a Procurement Review Task Force to, according to his May 6 memo (attached; see below), "improve and simplify our procurement process."

The principal goals of the task force are:
To ensure that all procurements continue to be conducted with the maximum level of transparency, fairness and integrity."

To "make procurement more efficient, easier to navigate for vendors," in other words, to...