making local government more ethical

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Robert Wechsler

There is so much valuable material in Terry L. Cooper's book The Responsible Administrator: An Approach to Ethics for the Administrative Role (1998) that it's difficult to sum up in a review. So instead I will look at some of its most important points in a few separate blog entries.

Responsibility is the key to municipal ethics as well as administration. It is central to democratic accountability, to recognizing and dealing with sometimes conflicting obligations, to being a...

Robert Wechsler

In an earlier blog entry, I took the side of the Louisiana Board of Ethics in its dispute with the state legislature over whether it has jurisdiction over legislators who participate in debate when they have a conflict of interest. In another case, which the Board of Ethics lost on appeal, I feel the Board of Ethics was wrong, and I feel it is instructive to say why.

The matter involved two parish council members who voted for...

Robert Wechsler

It is not enough to reform a city's ethics program. One must also let the world know about it. Most municipalities reform their ethics in a vacuum. They might look at a nearby town or city, or two, but the people in charge rarely know what is happening elsewhere, what are the norms and what are the latest reforms. This is one of the reasons we have put this website together.

Until recently, Chinese orphanages, run by municipalities, gave their orphans two kinds of surnames, either a...

Robert Wechsler

With apologies to Louisiana, since this week I've already focused on its legislators' dispute with its Board of Ethics, I'm going to return to the state to discuss a situation where local government ethics can make a great difference.

On the front page of today's New York Times, an article looks at reasons why so little money has made it from Washington to local government infrastructure...

Robert Wechsler

Who should and who should not sit on elections commissions? Other than land-use commissions (and, sadly, ethics commissions), elections commissions are probably the most abused in terms of membership.

Take the election commission in Hamblen County, according to the March 7-10, 2007 entries in the noe4accountability blog. It has five members. One has a son running for the county commission, one is the father of a mayor in the county (who is...

Robert Wechsler

Those who have been closely following the dismissal of U.S. Attorneys by the Bush Administration may know that one of them involves a U.S. Attorney who did not move fast enough with an investigation into possible kickbacks relating to the building of a county courthouse in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Yesterday, according to an article in the Albuquerque Tribune, a former Albuquerque mayor, and two...