making local government more ethical

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States and Municipal Ethics

Robert Wechsler
This is a very serious blog post, but I want to start it with a game. Here are the headlines of stories that are said to be "related" to an article on the WLTX website yesterday relating to local government ethics in South Carolina:

  • Naked Woman Creates Ruckus on Delta Flight
  • ...
Robert Wechsler
Cook County assessor Joseph Berrios is becoming a regular character in this blog (see below for prior posts on him). This time he is declaring unconstitutional a law passed by the county to limit his fundraising from lawyers who appeal property tax assessments. And he has the support of a questionable opinion from the local state's attorney, according to...
Robert Wechsler
According to an article in the Metro West Daily News on Friday, the Ashland (MA) board of selectmen sent two reported allegations of possible acts of ethical misconduct to the state ethics commission. The request sought not enforcement, but clarification. I hope by "clarification" the board meant that it is seeking advice about continuing the...
Robert Wechsler
I'm going to keep showing how wrong the criminal enforcement of ethics laws is until there is at least some sign of movement away from it. This time I will do it by looking at two recent proceedings in which serious penalties are involved, one criminal, the other civil. The criminal penalties are about punishment, the civil penalties about strengthening the ethics program and sending important messages to other officials and employees.

Robert Wechsler
Update: August 26, 2011 (see below)

At the same time there is talk of local government ethics reform in New York State, the new attorney general has his own plan for local government oversight. But it is all criminal in nature.

His idea is to place public integrity officers in all thirteen attorney general offices in the state, starting with Rochester. The new attorney general's predecessor, now...
Robert Wechsler
On January 28, the New York State Bar Association issued a report on government ethics reform in New York State, which includes a section on local government ethics reform. The report points out the many inadequacies of...