making local government more ethical

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Robert Wechsler
Update: October 22, 2010 (see below)

Recently, I wrote a blog post on the political use of ethics complaints and the manipulation of the press. Yesterday, the third circuit court of appeals effectively, and I think wrongly, disagreed with one of my principal arguments in that post, and therefore came to the wrong decision.

Robert Wechsler
There's a good opinion piece by Austin American-Statesman columnist Jason Embry this week on the political use of ethics complaints. The instances of abuse of the ethics process is what has led many jurisdictions to prohibit any mention of filing an ethics complaint and to prohibit the filing of ethics complaints within sixty or so days of an election.

Robert Wechsler
A situation in the city of Alameda, CA once again points out that government officials dealing with the possibly unethical conduct of other government officials is not a good thing.

According to an article today in the San Francisco Chronicle, the city of Alameda asked the city's outside counsel to investigate whether a council member had disclosed confidential...
Robert Wechsler
The great majority of what is written about legislative redistricting focuses on state and federal redistricting. But many cities, even some towns, have districts too, and resetting district boundaries is an important political process designed to prevent public participation and to undermine public trust.

In January, an advisory board of experts and representatives of good government groups got together to articulate principles of transparency in the redistricting...
Robert Wechsler
Image by Joe Wu

Following up on the previous blog post, here is the first of two examples of local government ethics matters involving anonymity outside of an internet context.

An article in Thursday's Bangor Daily News discusses a state ethics commission investigation into anonymous...
Robert Wechsler
In my recent blog post on Maricopa County, I referred to the problem of harassment and intimidation by government officials against other government officials and employees. I have also referred in the past to the even more serious problem of harassment, intimidation, and ad hominem attacks by government officials against citizens. There is a new sort of fear...