making local government more ethical

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Robert Wechsler
Going by the reaction of the news media and the Pulitzer committee, the most serious government ethics scandal of 2010 occurred in Bell, California, where the city's top officials were paying themselves huge salaries, taking advantage of an uneducated, uninvolved citizenry.

Well, guess what. According to an article in Friday's Los Angeles Times, a Los Angeles...
Robert Wechsler
In a letter to the editor in yesterday's New York Times, two lawyers who represent clients seeking to gut Arizona's Citizens Clean Elections public campaign financing program end by calling Arizona's program "a vision of unconstitutional dystopia, not free speech."

I administer the public campaign financing program in New Haven, CT. These programs are intended to...
Robert Wechsler
Wow! Get a Load of Those Salaries!
It's official. People get more upset over big salaries to government officials than over bribes, kickbacks, unbid contracts, and the like, which cost taxpayers far, far more.

Robert Wechsler
Is the attorney-client privilege, in the context of an inspector general's (or, for that a matter, an ethics commission's) investigation of misconduct in city government, "sacred," as Chicago's corporation counsel insists? Is it even appropriate?

This is a long post that will be fascinating to many, will raise hackles in some, but will be of less interest to others. If you want to cut to the chase, read the summary paragraph at the end and move on.

Robert Wechsler
Transparency is one of the most controversial aspects of government ethics. It's so controversial that it is rarely discussed in terms of transparency. It is almost always discussed in terms of confidentiality, which is rarefly referred to by its popular name: secrecy. This careful use of words leads people to devalue transparency.

The first statement in any discussion of transparency in government ethics should be that transparency is one of the three areas of government ethics (...
Robert Wechsler
It's hard for ethics codes to deal with every kind of relationship where nepotism might be a problem. In a matter involving the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD), the relationship involves oversight.

According to an article in Sunday's Palm...