making local government more ethical

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Robert Wechsler
People in Alabama are falling over each other claiming that their ethics reforms give the state the best, toughest ethics laws in the nation. But when you take a closer look, some of them don't look all that good.

Robert Wechsler
One group of individuals with a great deal of power in local government is not covered by local ethics codes or the other aspects of local ethics programs. That group consists of officers of local political parties.

Sometimes a party chair is the most powerful individual in the city or county, the individual who selects candidates and, if an elected official is disloyal, throws party support to another candidate in the next primary. In other situations, the party chair is the...
Robert Wechsler
Do expertise and conflicts go together more like love and marriage, or like horse and carriage? In other words, are they necessary or are they outdated in this age of government ethics?

Interested people making important decisions that affect their livelihood was the American way for most of our nation's history. Beginning with Watergate, the public has moved past this horse and carriage approach, toward a more selfless public service where people deal responsibly with conflicts...
Robert Wechsler
Targeting Ethics Reform
In May, I wrote a blog post about ethics reforms proposed by a Cook County (IL) commissioner. I felt they didn't have much chance of passing.

Lo and behold, according to an...
Robert Wechsler
The law on limiting campaign expenditures has been changing over the past couple of years. But the law on limiting campaign contributions has not. The standard in many instances is more liberal than with campaign expenditures, in others it is the same. And the application of the standard is highly contextual. A law in one jurisdiction, or at a particular time, might be constitutional, while in another jurisdiction, or at a different time, it is not.

Contribution limits are an...
Robert Wechsler
Update: August 9, 2010 (see below)

You've got to hand it to them:  Broward County (FL) commissioners don't give up. Some of them have fought and fought against the prospect of having a new ethics code, written by the county ethics commission. August 10 is the deadline by which they must either approve the new ethics code, or it will appear on the...