making local government more ethical

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All stories and pages related to the Model Code Project

Robert Wechsler
Requiring supermajority votes by ethics commissions to find probable cause or a violation is probably the best obstacle elected officials can place in the way of effective ethics enforcement. This is especially true of the probable cause phase, if there is one.

Robert Wechsler
When I saw the lead headline in Wednesday's New York Times, "In Adopting Harsh Tactics, No Inquiry into Past Use," I thought of local government ethics, even though the article was about torture. Okay, I suppose I spend too much time thinking about local government ethics, but bear with me for a minute.

The C.I.A. used, and the Justice Department approved, interrogation methods that were used in American military training. If the methods are there, in print, in a...
Robert Wechsler
Who is covered by an ethics code can be very important. In Baltimore, for instance, as I wrote in a recent blog entry, the city solicitor has interpreted the ethics code to require disclosure of gifts only from companies doing business with the city, not from their owners, officers, or employees.

I also wrote recently about jurisdiction over...
Robert Wechsler
According to an article in the Tulsa World, last week the city's Ethics Advisory Committee (EAC) ruled in favor of one of its members, Michael Slankard, with respect to an advisory opinion request by the city attorney. This situation raises several interesting issues.

Robert Wechsler
State or local ethics laws, state or local ethics training, state or local disclosure forms, state or local ethics enforcement? This is probably the biggest issue in local government ethics. And it's a very complicated one, which I have only rarely dealt with. There are good (and bad) arguments on both sides, as well as practical, political, constitutional, and funding considerations to take into account.

I raise this matter not to deal with all its aspects, but due to reading...
Robert Wechsler
Last month, I wrote about the responsibility of lawyers and other professionals for doing something about the deeply unethical conduct of two judges in Pennsylvania who unjustly, and to their own financial benefit, incarcerated hundreds of juveniles.

A few days ago, the New York Times ran a follow-up article on this. It...