making local government more ethical

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Robert Wechsler
City Attorney Ethics Enforcement in San Francisco
An article in the San Francisco Chronicle this week says that the city attorney filed a lawsuit against a former member of the board of supervisors (the city's legislative body) who acted as a lobbyist, but failed to register (in arguing that he was acting as an attorney, the supervisor pointed to an...
Robert Wechsler
What should an ethics program do when an agency or department takes ethics advice and enforcement into its own hands? This issue has arisen in Hawaii County, according to two articles in West Hawaii Today, one from two years ago, the other from last week.
Robert Wechsler
This is the third of four blog posts on Florida Senate Bill 606 (attached; see below), one of the worst ethics reform bills I have ever read.

This post considers just one sentence of the bill: "A political subdivision is prohibited from imposing additional or more stringent standards of conduct and disclosure requirements upon the officers and employees of another political subdivision." The first...
Robert Wechsler
Who should be allowed to file an ethics complaint? Certainly any citizen of the jurisdiction. But what about multiple citizens of the jurisdiction? Should an ethics commission exclude a complaint from them?

This is what happened recently in Brookfield, CT, according to an article in the News-Times. A petition signed by a few hundred people in town was...
Robert Wechsler
Here's a new role for an ethics commission:  mediator in a dispute between other government oversight offices. According to an article in the Advocate last week, New Orleans' ethics board has appointed two of its members to mediate in an ongoing dispute between the city's Inspector General and its new...
Robert Wechsler
Some jurisdictions have an ethics provision entitled Prestige of Office that, among other things, limits work that officials can do outside of government. Here is the language that the Baltimore school district uses (this is essentially the same as the city government's Prestige of Office provision, but with the addition of the phrase "public position," which turns it into a basic misuse of office provision):
An official may not intentionally use the prestige of office or public...