making local government more ethical

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Robert Wechsler
In my estimation, Seattle voters made a big mistake last week. They voted for two related changes to their government. One was a public campaign financing program for citywide council elections. The other was a change from citywide council elections to district council elections, which would leave only two citywide positions.

Public financing was rejected 51.6% vs. 48.4%. Council districts were accepted 65.6% vs. 34.4%. Both votes will lead to more institutional corruption in...
Robert Wechsler
According to a press release from the American League of Lobbyists, the association that lobbies for lobbyists, the membership has voted to change its name and "brand" to the Association of Government Relations Professionals.

It's good that lobbyists do not run election campaigns, because their branding is pretty blind. The acronym for their new name is going to be, whatever they may say,...
Robert Wechsler
Toward the end of a video of the November 4 meeting of the Florida Joint Legislative Auditing Committee, the committee vice-chair says that the testimony he heard was very "troubling." I felt the same way about the meeting as a whole, but for completely different reasons. What occurred at this meeting is as troubling as anything I have seen in seven years of following local...
Robert Wechsler
One of the most powerful lobbyists in the United States has come out strongly in favor of independent, effective local government ethics programs. The lobbyist is AARP. Here is a quote from p. 1-13 of the Government Integrity and Civic Engagement chapter (notably, Chapter 1) of AARP's latest Policy Book:
Government at all levels should establish and adequately fund independent...
Robert Wechsler
This is the third of three posts on how Richard W. Painter's recommendations for federal ethics reform in his book, Getting the Government America Deserves: How Ethics Reform Can Make a Difference (Oxford U.P., 2009), may be applied to local government ethics programs.

Lobbying is not as big a problem for most local governments as it is at...
Robert Wechsler
It is a pleasant surprise to find an intelligent conversation about local government ethics in an article and the comments to it. The latest example of this occurred yesterday in the New Haven (CT) Independent, an online newspaper.

The conflict situation involves two instances of lobbying before the city's Board of Zoning Appeals by the city's former...