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Robert Wechsler

Term limits, the recession, a new kind of governmental district, and a drive to save and manage local parks have all contributed to a fascinating ethics situation in Pierce County, Washington, home of Tacoma. Just last year I stayed in Pierce County and visited some of these parks, so this story is a little more concrete to me than most I write about.

Robert Wechsler
Here are three interesting conflict of interest case studies from Tuesday's news.

Conflicts That Make You Act Differently, and Imaginative Resolutions
According to an article in the Los Angeles Daily Breeze, a former Los Angeles airport attorney, who reviewed the paperwork submitted by four companies bidding on concessions at the airport, is married to an attorney who works for a law...
Robert Wechsler
An article in the Bismarck (ND) Tribune this weekend raised the issue of when a board or commission member may withdraw from a matter in which he feels he has a conflict, but where there is not a direct, pecuniary interest. It turns out that, back in 2007, the Burleigh County state's attorney had asked the attorney general for...
Robert Wechsler
You know you're doing a pretty poor job with government ethics when a grand jury recommends that you be all but abolished. This is the case with the Broward County School Board, according to a report published on Frday. It concludes, on p. 48:
    Unfortunately based on the history of this Board as an institution, we have no confIdence in their ability to...
Robert Wechsler
It's nice to be able to write about a difficult conflict situation that is handled responsibly. It's unusual to be able to write about a resolution where the local newspaper ends its editorial saying that the right thing has been done.

According to...
Robert Wechsler
Transparency, although not generally part of a local ethics code, is central to a local government's ethics environment. A lack of transparency is both a tell-tale sign that things are wrong, and an impediment to discussing ethics issues and enforcing ethics violations. Unfortunately, ethics codes do have confidential information provisions, making it appear to those who do not understand government ethics that it is more important to hide confidential information than to let the sunshine in...