making local government more ethical

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Robert Wechsler

A former chancellor of Maricopa Community College in Phoenix, Arizona continued to work for the college on contract, while also having a business on the side that did business with the college on a no-bid basis. The business was set up by the college when he was chancellor and was given to him a few months after he retired.

The former chancellor denies any conflict of interest because his business (Sedona Conferences and Conversations, which does business with colleges around the...

Robert Wechsler

In Isle La Motte, Vermont, according to a recent article in the Burlington Free Press, the longtime town clerk and treasurer diverted $100,000 of town funds to her own use. Before the town learned of this, its Selectboard (the town's elected executive board) had arranged to allow her to pay back the money along with interest and audit and legal expenses.

One member of...

Robert Wechsler

Personal interest vs. public interest is central to government ethics. We tend to think, however, that it's central to them (officials) not to us (citizens), and that we have nothing to learn from this sort of ethics. Well, we're wrong. Take flu shots, for instance. People get flu shots because they feel they are personally likely to be seriously harmed by the flu (older people, very young children) or likely to contract it (people who work in hospitals and schools).

But what if...

Robert Wechsler

Before I got around to putting up a blog entry on the ethics mess in Louisiana, it took a turn for the worse. What started as two legislators protecting the jobs, respectively, of their father and their brother, has turned into a full-fledged constitutional battle that could undermine the concept of recusal for conflicts of interest nationwide.

As it is now, ethics codes usually require that legislators, state and municipal, refrain from participating or voting in matters where they...

Robert Wechsler

No, the class exception does not except classy people from ethics codes. It excepts people from recusing themselves when the interests they have that would be affected by an act or decision are similar to a broad class of people. The biggest class is, of course, taxpayers. Municipal officials can vote for budgets even though their taxes are affected by it. Other classes excepted without controversy include homeowners, renters, members of a pension plan, and business owners. But the smaller...

Robert Wechsler

'No Retreat, No Surrender: One Man's Fight.' If only this were the title of a civil rights leader's memoir. But no civil rights leader would talk about 'one' man's fight; it was a group effort. Only someone who falsely sees himself as walking into a sunset alone after a gunfight would use that subtitle for his memoir.

The memoir is Tom DeLay's. It is a title chosen by someone who sees himself as an unrepentant victim.

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