making local government more ethical

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Robert Wechsler
Ethics reform aimed at political opponents is a good way to undermine the whole idea of ethics reform. This is what is happening in San Jose.

San Jose starts off with an odd ethics program. Title 12: Ethics Provisions does not even have a conflict of interest provision, nor does the city have an ethics commission. It is primarily a campaign finance and lobbying law, with a gift...
Robert Wechsler

“People seem to listen to you more when you’ve got a bagful of cash.”

Thomas J. Donohue, president of U.S. Chamber of Commerce (from today's New York Times)
Robert Wechsler
Many of the most difficult situations in government ethics involve relationships that are not direct. For example, situations where the company that provides a benefit does not do business with the local government, but is owned by someone who owns another company that does do business with or have an interest in legislation before the local government (click here for a recent example). Technically, the company...
Robert Wechsler
Dallas council members' control over development in their districts led earlier this month to the conviction of one council member and four associates for extortion.

Now the Dallas mayor, Tom Leppert, is effectively forcing the hand of the city council to enact...
Robert Wechsler
According to an article in this week's Atlanta Journal-Constitution, a rule prohibiting Georgia state employees from accepting gifts over $25 is not being enforced. At all.

How does the paper know these gifts are being made? Because lobbyists have to disclose their spending on state employees as well as on legislators (who are not restricted from taking such gifts). Governor...
Robert Wechsler
Update: October 21, 2009 (see below)
Two interesting issues come out of a long, detailed Kansas City Star article yesterday about Missouri political consultant, and recent house speaker, Ron Jetton.