making local government more ethical

You are here

States and Municipal Ethics

Robert Wechsler
There are two ways to write a nepotism provision. One is to have a short, straightforward prohibition, and allow requests for a waiver under special circumstances. The most frequent circumstance would be a small town or school system where there are not a lot of prospective employees to choose from.

The other way is the one chosen by Louisiana:  three pages of exceptions from the general rule (attached; see below).

There are two ways to define "family" in terms of a...
Robert Wechsler
Two weeks ago, the Better Government Association-Alper Services Integrity Index was published, the first since 2008. It grades each state's conflicts of interest, freedom of information, open meetings, and whistleblower-protection laws.

As far as it goes, this is an excellent report. It sets forth best practices and shows how each state has fallen short. With 100% as...
Robert Wechsler
Two of the most important elements of a government ethics program are the appearance (and reality) of independence and a monopoly on ethics advice and enforcement. The government ethics program that has jurisdiction over the greatest number of local officials and employees in the U.S. has problems with respect to both of these elements. And its commission's selection of a new executive director, after two years without a formal director, emphasizes both of these problems.

Robert Wechsler
Applicant Disclosure Is Good for Officials
If Ontario or Mississauga required broad applicant disclosure, Mississauga's mayor would not be in court this week arguing that she didn't know that her son had invested in a huge hotel and convention center deal. According to an article yesterday on the 680 News Radio site, she has been alleged...
Robert Wechsler
Appearances are very important in government ethics. A situation that has arisen with respect to a proposed state audit of the Palm Beach County ethics commission has created serious appearance problems.

Robert Wechsler
“Incompatible offices” is a form of conflict that is usually left out of ethics codes. One reason is that there is a common law prohibition against officials holding incompatible offices. But whether or not the conflict is common law or in an ethics code, this is an important kind of conflict that should be included in ethics training so that it is understood. It should also be a topic for which officials may seek ethics advice.

There are many offices that one individual should not...