making local government more ethical

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Ethics Commissions/Administration

Robert Wechsler
Reading in The Economist a distinction made by Paul Kingsnorth, a leader of the uncivilization movement, a response to climate change, made me wonder whether it is also important with respect to government ethics. His distinction is between a "problem" and a "predicament." A "problem" is something that can be solved. A "predicament" is something that must be endured, for which there is no real solution. When faced with a predicament, the appropriate response is not to try to solve it,...
Robert Wechsler
Can local legislators be trusted with the discretion to reimburse their colleagues for legal fees in ethics proceedings? This question is raised by a decision of the Wellington, FL council a few weeks ago.

According to an editorial in the Town-Crier Online, Wellington's mayor was found by the county ethics commission to have accepted an illegal gift to his defense fund, was sent a letter of...
Robert Wechsler
When a city or county attorney's office does not represent the ethics commission, should that office play any role in an ethics proceeding? I don't believe it should.

But that is what happened recently in Cobb County, GA, according to an article last week in the Marietta Daily Journal. After an ethics complaint was...
Robert Wechsler
Is local government ethics enforcement appropriate for local legislators? This question is currently being asked in Sarasota County, FL and Wyandotte County/Kansas City, KS. A key to whether this is the right question is who is asking the question. In both cases, it is local legislators who have been respondents in ethics enforcement proceedings, and some of their legislative colleagues.

Robert Wechsler
Many local legislative bodies have ethics committees, even where there is an ethics commission. The reason for these self-regulatory committees is that these bodies have their own codes of conduct that go beyond conflicts of interest, and which are enforced, discussed, and amended separate from the city or county's ethics program. Some local ethics programs consist of nothing more than a council ethics committee and code of conduct, but that situation is not the topic of this blog post.
Robert Wechsler
In a blog post ten days ago, I predicted that Florida state senator Joe Abruzzo, the sponsor of SB 1474, would realize that the newly amended bill would not do what he really wanted and make the appropriate changes, so that the amended SB 1474 would be consistent with HB 1315.

And so he did. He has drafted an amendment to the amended bill that makes it somewhat consistent...