making local government more ethical

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Local Government Attorneys

Robert Wechsler
The Colorado ethics commission matter that I discussed in my last blog post points to yet another reason why ethics commissions must have their own counsel, and a sufficient budget to pay that counsel.

According to a January article in the...
Robert Wechsler
A February draft advisory opinion from the Colorado Independent Ethics Commission (attached; see below) raises two different issues. One is the problematic nature of a total gift ban, that is, a ban on all gifts from anyone, accompanied by a whole host of exceptions. The other is the important differences among gifts, campaign contributions, and contributions to an official's legal defense fund...
Robert Wechsler
Some very interesting issues arise out of a past (and present) conflict situation that has become an issue in this week's mayoral primary in the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, KS ("UG").

The conflict situation appears simple at first glance, but it is not. In 2007, a UG commissioner became the paid executive director of the Argentine Neighborhood Development Association ("ANDA"), a nonprofit Community...
Robert Wechsler
I'm a big supporter of making ethics commissions independent of those over whom they have jurisdiction. Milton, Georgia and, now, Forsyth County, Georgia have come up with an interesting approach to ethics commission independence that has one good point and several bad points.

The recent amendments to the Forsyth County ethics code (...
Robert Wechsler
It's been six years since I last wrote about local government ethics in Tennessee. In a January 2007 comment to the forum on recusal, I focused on the fact that the University of Tennessee's Municipal Technical Advisory Service (MTAS) (which operates in cooperation with the Tennessee Municipal League) had prepared...
Robert Wechsler
Update: December 19, 2012 (see below)

I am always amazed at what contraptions people are willing to set up to justify the participation of a city attorney in the ethics program of a large city or county that has sufficient resources to hire an ethics commission staff member or independent ethics officer. I raise this issue because controversial ethics reforms are being voted on today by Fort Worth's council, and one of them includes making a city attorney's ethics advice an...