making local government more ethical

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Model Code

All stories and pages related to the Model Code Project

Robert Wechsler
Update below
The only thing worse than stacking ethics commissions with politically active, and apparently loyal, members is refusing to renew the term of a member who has been a vocal advocate of government ethics, in other words, a thorn in the side of officials who do not follow the local government's ethics codes. Clever officials know that one or two members of any board can have a strong effect on what the board does.

Robert Wechsler
One problem local governments have in drafting ethics codes is that they want it to be too many things, to serve too many purposes. They want it to be an aspirational code of conduct, making local government more civil and government officials more honest and fair. They want it to make officials follow all relevant laws and constitutional provisions. And they want it to deal with conflicts of interest, that is, with the situations where personal interests may be placed above the public interest...
Robert Wechsler
See update below:
An issue that arises in many local governments involves campaign contributions from local government employees, which often appear to be coerced or required, that is, they appear to result from a misuse of office by elected officials. Often, it appears that the giving occurs because employees are concerned about keeping their jobs. This concern includes concern about retaliation as well as concern about what will happen if the candidate loses.

Robert Wechsler
In yesterday's miscellany, I talked about an ethics commission member conflicted due to having played a role in the campaign of an official brought before the commission. There are two ways to deal with such a conflict. One is to deal with it like any conflict, when it arises. The other is to prevent the conflict from occurring.

Robert Wechsler
The Politicization of Officials Selecting Ethics Commission Members
People should not be political footballs, and ethics commission members even moreso. But that's what can happen when officials are allowed to select ethics commission members. According to an article in yesterday's Tulsa ...
Robert Wechsler
In the midst of a big corruption probe, a pair of back-and-forth ethics complaints filed with a nearly toothless ethics commission in El Paso doesn't seem like much. But it does sheds some light on how much El Paso government is about the players rather than the citizens. And it touches on some issues that are important everywhere, including the use of lawsuits to cripple ethics commissions, legal fees for ethics...