making local government more ethical

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Robert Wechsler
While on the topic of ex parte communications, it's a good time to mention a very special ex parte communications provision, Miami-Dade County's renowned "code of silence" provision. It's also a good time because, according to an article in the Miami Herald, the provision was reconsidered earlier this month by the Budget and Finance Committee of the county commission. Here's how the...
Robert Wechsler
One way to deal with possible conflicts is to nip them in the bud by not allowing any personal communications between officials and interested parties ("ex parte communications"). All communications must be official, either documentary or at formal meetings or negotiations.
Robert Wechsler
What stronger personal interest is there than family relationships? And yet so many people don't get the problems nepotism in government poses, at least until it takes a chunk out of their wallets.
Robert Wechsler
Update below:
Back in August, I wrote a long blog entry praising the way San Diego's Centre City Development Corp.'s  (CCDC) board handled a conflict matter. I focused on the board's refusal to pull the usual San Diego (and elsewhere) stunt of denying that anything serious had occurred. Instead, it looked into possible conflict problems with other projects, and it shelved the big project tainted by the too-late-...
Robert Wechsler
There's a national local government annual ethics report that is worthwhile taking a look at. It comes from the International City/County Management Association (ICMA), the professional organization of city, county, and town managers. To my knowledge, no other local government executive or legislative professional organization allows ethics complaints to be brought against its members and enforces its code.

Its annual report on its ethics program can be found by clicking at the...
Robert Wechsler
Because local governments' annual ethics reports serve so many purposes -- publicizing the ethics program's existence, educating officials and the public about what an ethics program includes, and making an example of those who do not file disclosure forms or are found to have participated in unethical conduct -- they should be made as easily, widely, and inexpensively available as possible.

And that means putting them up on the local government's website.