making local government more ethical

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Robert Wechsler
I've noted on several occasions that indirect conflicts are among the most problematic areas in government ethics. Blind Spots: Why We Fail to Do What's Right and What to Do about It, a new book by Max H. Bazerman and Ann E. Tenbrunsel (Princeton University Press), looks into some of the psychological aspects of the indirectness problem. The authors' analysis is especially relevant to the use of...
Robert Wechsler
Without giving it any thought, it would be hard to think of a better fit than a city politician running the local chamber of commerce. After all, the goals of a chamber of commerce and of a city government are pretty much the same:  security, good government, good services, low taxes.

But when you think about it more, you realize that a chamber of commerce is not just a cheerleader for the city, but also a powerful organization that lobbies city politicians on a variety of issues,...
Robert Wechsler
Update: March 19, 2011 (see below)

Last December I wrote a long blog post about the pay-to-play culture of Prince George's County, Maryland. The new county executive and the county's state representatives appear to have been working hard to make changes to end this pay-to-play culture, although you wouldn't know it from...
Robert Wechsler
My last blog post raised an interesting question. When an annual financial disclosure form (or, in some jurisdictions a special declaration of gifts received) requires the disclosure of all gifts from restricted sources, what are the expectations of an official who pays rent to a restricted source...
Robert Wechsler
On February 10, 2008, Bobby Jindal, the newly elected governor of Louisiana, said in a big speech:
    Today, we take the first step towards building a better Louisiana where our ethics laws are the gold standard - letting the rest of the world know that corruption will no longer find a home here. The actions that we will take over the coming days will have...
Robert Wechsler
Conflicting Employment Is Nothing to Rave About
Some forms of conflicting employment are wrong to the extent that the only way to handle the conflict responsibly is to resign from one of the jobs. If this is not done, even a minor conflict can be very damaging, especially when there are already other problems. This is the case with an administrator at the Los Angeles Coliseum who worked on the side as a consultant for a company that annually produced a rave at the Coliseum.