making local government more ethical

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Robert Wechsler
The situation of Rose Pak, a power broker for San Francisco's Chinese-American community who was featured a week ago in a New York Times article, raises some interesting questions. A paid consultant to the Chinese Chamber of Commerce, she has never held public office. Nor has she ever registered as a lobbyist or been an official member of a campaign...
Robert Wechsler
“The concern with potential corruption does not stop just because the relationship has entered the bedroom.’’

For those of you who think my blog needs a little spice, this is a good ice breaker. These are the words of Kathay Feng, head of California Common Cause, spoken at a meeting of the Fair Political Practices Commission, California's state ethics commission, which has jurisdiction over local officials and employees (quoted from...
Robert Wechsler
Lawrence Lessig's excellent new book Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts Congress—and a Plan to Stop It (Twelve, Oct. 5, 2011) is about Congress and mostly about campaign finance, but it is also an important look at institutional corruption that has some valuable things to say that are relevant to local government ethics.

Lessig, who is director...
Robert Wechsler
What can be done when a public agency that gives gifts to public officials destroys its gift records?

This question arises from an article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution last week about the Alpharetta (GA) Convention and Visitors Bureau, an independent agency funded partially by a local hotel tax. According to the article, the bureau's CEO destroyed her records...
Robert Wechsler
I came across a decision in Patty Salkin's Law of the Land blog today involving a federal statute that allows federal prosecution of those who give gifts to local officials in amounts greater than $5,000. Proof of bribery is not...
Robert Wechsler
It is a given (although not a fact) that everyone wants to make it as easy as possible to vote. Voting is the principal way most people participate in a democracy, and choosing our local officials is the way we determine the direction and quality of management of our community. In most countries, voting day is a day off, but this is not true for most people in the U.S. So it is important to find other ways of making voting easier for people with full-time jobs.

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