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States and Municipal Ethics

Robert Wechsler
In March I wrote a blog post about a situation in La Crosse, Wisconsin where the mayor brought his father, who runs a refuse business, to meet with a county official about a county solid waste assessment. A council member sought advice from the city attorney rather than the city ethics board, and then the mayor said he would put the matter before the ethics board. His father's company has a refuse...
Robert Wechsler
Update: August 2, 2010 (see below)

I've long said that conflicts of interest should not be limited to financial interests or, in other terms, situations where a possible financial benefit or loss is involved (see, for example, this 2009 blog post). My position is confirmed by the twisted yet necessary logic in...
Robert Wechsler
Update: January 11, 2011 (see below)

According to a July 2 unpublished opinion by Judge Flanagan of the Washoe County (NV) district court, Carrigan v. Commission on Ethics of the State of Nevada (attached; see below), a city council member has a first amendment free speech right to vote where there is not "an actual, existing conflict of interest." (p. 13)

Due process also comes into play in the opinion:  "In the absence of an actual, existing conflict of...
Robert Wechsler
Yesterday, four Pennsylvania state representatives, two from each of the major parties, announced a proposal to create a public integrity commission that would have greater powers than the current state ethics commission, and would jurisdiction over officials at all levels of government.

Robert Wechsler
If you're a city of a quarter million people with an ethics board that “has not met in many years and ... is effectively non-existent,” according to a council member who has proposed a new ethics ordinance, what do you do?

Not, I think, what the proposed ordinance (p. 16ff) does, which is create a new ethics board solely for council members, and consisting of two...
Robert Wechsler
I hate to see people resign with statements such as this, as typical as they are:
    While I have been assured that I have violated no existing code, ordinance or statute, I cannot permit my integrity — and, by insinuation, Councilwoman Hermann’s — to be attacked.
Sadly, these are the words of a former Kansas City (MO) ethics commission member, according to an article in the...