making local government more ethical

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Robert Wechsler
Time is a very important element of conflicts of interest. Some conflicts simply exist, but others either occur suddenly or suddenly become relevant.

For example, an official can have a piece of property for twenty years and then suddenly the owner of a neighboring piece of property asks the local government to help turn it into something that would significantly raise the value of the official's property. That's an easy to problem to deal with.

More difficult is the...
Robert Wechsler
It's been almost two years since the New York Times broke the story on the abuses of New York City council earmarks slush fund, which totaled about $50 million a year. This week, the council member featured in the Times article was expelled from the state senate for a violent act committed against his female companion, according to...
Robert Wechsler
Some lawyers abuse or misrepresent the lawyer-client privilege and client confidentiality to protect their own unethical conduct. But no one does it better than elected government officials who also happen to be lawyers, and have the ability to draft ethics laws.

A report by the New York City Bar Association, Reforming New York State's Financial Disclosure...
Robert Wechsler
The ethics war in San Diego is heating up. It has escalated from elected officials pointing out problems they have with the city's ethics commission to the future existence of the EC. The latest battle presents an excellent window into the mindset of those who oppose government ethics, especially, in this case, the enforcement of campaign finance rules.

Robert Wechsler
(Update: March 1, 2010: Also see this excellent Times-Union editorial on the importance of an independent ethics commission that has authority over independent authorities. A particularly valuable observation: "The city Ethics Commission needs the ability to obtain independent legal advice. The city General Counsel's Office advises the mayor, City Council and the Ethics...
Robert Wechsler
India and China have not only been the home of new varieties of entrepreneurialism. In these countries, creative individuals have also come up with novel approaches to dealing with local government corruption.

An expatriate Indian physics professor in the U.S. came up with the brilliant idea of a Zero-Rupee Note to hand out in situations where local officials expect or ask for bribes.