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Robert Wechsler

Transparency is often seen as a technical, often annoying part of municipal ethics. All those notices and agendas that have to be filed at the right time in the right place, all those document requests from the news media and opposition parties. Is all this really necessary for good government? Does it lower taxes, provide better services? Or is it just a pain in the neck?

Sometimes you need a big disaster – Enron, for example – for people to understand the cost of not acting...


In a very interesting step recently, the "Zionsville Town Council approved 5-0 Monday, Dec. 3, an expanded conflict of interest policy that includes a clause urging council members to recuse themselves from any vote involving a campaign contributor."


In this article published in the Orlando Sentinel, the "Consultant" referred to was Carla Miller, of CityEthics, in a workshop presented in the spring of 2007.


Richard Foglesong | Special To The Sentinel   (Orlando)
December 17, 2007
Robert Wechsler

I've just finished reading a book called Illicit by Moises Naim, about the trafficking of everything from people and drugs to artworks and counterfeit DVDs .

One of the things Naim focuses on is why governments have so much trouble putting a dent into any of these types of trafficking. The principal reason is the structure of relationships. Government bureaucracies lose out to increasingly flexible networks of individuals.

In the municipal ethics world, the situation is...

Robert Wechsler

Is there an ethical requirement to discuss matters that are not being discussed?

Dan Goleman, the author of Emotional Intelligence, refers to something he calls the Four Attentional Rules. 'In any group, from the family, to organizations, to entire societies, there are these unstated rules that we learn tacitly about the questions that can't be asked.'

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Robert Wechsler

My first experience with municipal politics in New Jersey, where I lived for nine years before moving to Connecticut, was accompanying some neighbors to a council meeting, because a couple of them wanted to speak about a change in zoning that affected the street we lived on. A neighbor asked the mayor when they could speak, and was told people would be alerted when it came time to speak. The council debated the issue and then, without a pause, started to vote on it. I rose in protest and had...