making local government more ethical

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Robert Wechsler
A New Use of a Nonprofit as a Conduit
Pay to play appears to be as creative a field as cellphone apps. An article in the Washington Examiner on Sunday points to a new way to get developer money into an official's pockets via a nonprofit organization. A zoning agreement stipulated that the developer would donate $55,000 to the Business Council as...
Robert Wechsler
A Complex School Board Conflict Situation
Should someone closely associated with an organization that has been awarded a sizeable preschool contract be prevented from sitting on a school board when the contract was not with the school board? That is one of the questions raised by an article this week in the Connecticut Post. The Bridgeport, CT school...
Robert Wechsler
Update: June 20, 2012 (see below)

The saying goes that there are two sides to every story. But more commonly there is a story and ways to spin the story. The problem is telling them apart.

This week, a Daily Oklahoman editorial took to task the state ethics commission, which has jurisdiction over local officials. The editorial's...
Robert Wechsler
One of the most damaging aspects of ethical misconduct in government is that it decreases the amount of citizen participation in government activities. People feel that their local government is rigged to help politicians and their families, friends, and business associates. It's not worth spending time getting involved in a rigged system, unless your goal is to be part of the in crowd.

It was nice to read...
Robert Wechsler
The situation of Rose Pak, a power broker for San Francisco's Chinese-American community who was featured a week ago in a New York Times article, raises some interesting questions. A paid consultant to the Chinese Chamber of Commerce, she has never held public office. Nor has she ever registered as a lobbyist or been an official member of a campaign...
Robert Wechsler
Constituent service is a basic legislative role that I have pretty much ignored in my blog (click here to read the principal exception). Government ethics focuses too much on votes and self-serving conduct, and too little on the ways in which council members and other government officials help their constituents in special or inappropriate ways. Constituent service is central to Dennis F. Thompson's book ...