making local government more ethical

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Family Members/Nepotism

Robert Wechsler
Chicago politicians are endlessly creative. A few weeks ago I wrote about an alderman on the zoning committee who pushed for zoning changes to help developers who used his wife as their realtor. It turns out that his boss, William J. P. Banks, head of the zoning committee, is going to have a retirement party. The party's guests are being asked to send personal checks for $200 (or more), according to...
Robert Wechsler
Nepotism is often left out of ethics codes because it does not seem all that unethical. Another reason for leaving nepotism out is that it is so common, especially in the uniformed departments, that local government officials are afraid to touch it. When nepotism rules do appear, they often provide for grandfathering in current nepotism, and for waivers, even if waivers are not available for other ethics code violations.

Robert Wechsler
The Politicization of Officials Selecting Ethics Commission Members
People should not be political footballs, and ethics commission members even moreso. But that's what can happen when officials are allowed to select ethics commission members. According to an article in yesterday's Tulsa ...
Robert Wechsler
Rarely does someone make a comment to one of my blog posts that brings such a fresh look at a standard conflict of interest issue as the one made recently by Catherine Mullhaupt, Esq., Director of Member Information Services at the Michigan Townships Association.

It is important to recognize that the interest in having government officials both make and be seen to make decisions in the public interest rather than in...
Robert Wechsler
One of the biggest problems with local government lobbyists is that they invariably have close contacts with those who run the city or county. So whenever they are involved in a matter, especially the bidding of large contracts, there is a strong appearance of impropriety, and people don't trust the bidding process.

This is why some local governments place a ban on the lobbying of government officials with respect to large contracts and developments. Phoenix is one local government...
Robert Wechsler
Technicalities should play little role in discussions about local government ethics. But because there are ethics laws, people unashamedly talk about ethics technicalities. They see ethics laws as like any other law, not as minimal requirements that deserve more thinking about what's appropriate than about what's legal.

According to an article in Saturday's ...