making local government more ethical

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Robert Wechsler
It's hard to know where to start with a situation in Crescent City, CA, a town of 7,500 in northern California that has already been the subject of a City Ethics blog post.

One of the most striking things about the situation is that it is the first time I have seen an anti-SLAPP-suit defense used successfully against someone who appears to have been found guilty of an ethics violation in order to stop her criticism...
Robert Wechsler
Two types of independence often clash when it comes to government ethics. It is important that government ethics programs be administered by independent commissions. But independent agencies often do what they can not to be subject to a local government ethics commission.

It is clear which sort of independence is more important, but independent agencies still put their interest in self-regulation ahead of the public's interest in an effective, trustworthy ethics program. This has...
Robert Wechsler
There are several problems with Houston's new ethics provisions, in addition to what I pointed out in my last blog post. Some of them are typical, some of them are unusual. The ethics reform ordinance is attached; see below; the old ethics ordinance can be found by clicking here and scrolling down on the left to Code of Ordinances Chapter 18).

Robert Wechsler
Local government vendor or supplier codes of conduct are not commonly found in the U.S. In a limited search, I couldn't find one. But corporations commonly have them, as do some Canadian cities and some states and state agencies. And they sound like a good idea.

The reason I raise this idea is that Cuyahoga County's new county executive says he will have one drafted (see my most...
Robert Wechsler
One Moore County (NC) commissioner has been faced with two conflict of interest matters in 2010, one of which led him to recently resign from a board. Although the two have nothing to do with each other, they have become politically intertwined which, along with the lack of an ethics program, has prevented the responsible handling of the conflicts.

Robert Wechsler
An editorial in the Lake Forester last week questions whether the county board of Lake County (IL) should be taking a fresh look at the county's ethics program.
    The call for an ethics committee to review Lake County's ethics ordinances and policies sounds laudable on the surface, but the question has to be begged:  Is this really needed? We don't think so...