making local government more ethical

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Robert Wechsler

'It doesn't serve the people to have an ethics commission responsible to the body of government it reviews. It's counterintuitive.'

'Anonymous comment to an Eye on Miami blog entry about the desire of the Miami-Dade County Ethics Commission to strengthen its powers and responsibilities

Robert Wechsler

Having politicians on the Queensbury, NY Ethics Board has created a mess. According to an article in the Glen Falls PostStar, one council member brought a complaint against another council member, and when the ethics board found that the respondent should have recused himself on a vote, the respondent insisted that some of the ethics board members were acting out of political spite.


Robert Wechsler

Who should be in charge of writing and revising municipal ethics codes?

Generally, ethics codes are the work of a mayor or a council, or sometimes they both jockey for the position of being seen as more ethical (this is especially true when a council member is considering a run for mayor). Sometimes they're the work of the city attorney, who in any event often does the drafting for his or her boss, who may be the council, the mayor, or the city manager. And sometimes they're the work...

Robert Wechsler

Below is an op-ed piece I wrote this week for the North Haven Post about the unethical conduct involved in my town's budget process. Nothing was done illegally or in violation of the town's mediocre ethics code. My question here is, What can be done about this sort of deviousness, which most town residents do not understand, which the town's political leaders almost unanimously deny, and which the newspapers present only (at best) with 'both sides of the story,' taking no editorial...

Robert Wechsler

I was inspired to take a different point of view of municipal ethics while reading Charles Taylor's review of Jonathan Lear's new book, Radical Hope: Ethics in the Face of Cultural Devastation in the latest issue of the New York Review of Books. Please bear with me as I describe the book before I say why it is relevant to municipal ethics.

The book looks at cultures that have been devastated by having their way of life destroyed. The result is that people's actions no...

Robert Wechsler

When an official makes an Ad Hominem attack, everyone realizes there is an attack. And when an official makes an Ad Populum defense, everyone realizes that there is a defense. But when an official sets up a Straw Man, the situation isn't so clear. It's not an attack or a defense, but a response to an argument. Straw Men dress in the camouflage of discussion, but they are deeply disrespectful of...