making local government more ethical

You are here

Ethics Commissions/Administration

Robert Wechsler
There's a lot of talk among government ethics practitioners about how important it is for ethics commissions to have teeth, that is, the ability to at least reprimand and fine government officials for ethics violations. Requiring council approval of ethics recommendations brings elected officials into the ethics process and politicizes it. And politicizing an ethics program undermines its goal of gaining the public's trust in elected officials to govern for the public, not for themselves and...
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...
Robert Wechsler
I've always felt torn with respect to whether citizens should be allowed to ask for advisory opinions that have to do with local government officials, as can be seen in the advisory opinion provision and comments in the City Ethics Model Code Project.

On the one hand, advisory opinions are generally seen as dealing with the requestor's conduct, which I think is why most ethics codes limit requests to city...
Robert Wechsler
What could provide a better education for local government ethics practitioners than reading through a greatly expanded 261-page list of all the cases the New York City Conflicts of Interest Board has decided or settled from 1992 through last week? The ethics provisions may not be the same as everywhere, but the problems usually are.

Robert Wechsler
A city full of casinos has no need for an ethics board, right? Well, according to an article in yesterday's Press of Atlantic City, that's the decision the Atlantic City council made last week.
Robert Wechsler
Update below:

The Internet has been around for some time now, and yet local government officials still get away with saying things like, “If you have a better process or procedure [than having the city council enforce the ethics code], I would like to hear about it.”

According to an article yesterday on in Tulsa,...