making local government more ethical

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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
Many complex conflicts of interest involve the spouses and other close family members of local government officials, as can be seen in Broward County (FL, home of Ft. Lauderdale) according to an article in the Sun-Sentinel.

These conflicts are often legally complex, but from the point of view of citizens they are very simple:  when a close family member is...
Robert Wechsler

Outside Ethics Commission Members
According to an article in yesterday's Salisbury (MD) Daily Times, the mayor of Snow Hill (pop. 2400) has decided to look outside his town for members of an ad hoc ethics commission to deal with an ethics complaint arising from a zoning appeals board decision.

"It's not that the...
Robert Wechsler
One can learn a lot about local government (and judicial) ethics by listening to local officials talk about a conflict situation they're in. Here's one from Dallas County,  where the district attorney's wife is a political consultant for the campaigns of seven judges before whom the D.A.'s office practices.

According to an article in today's Dallas...
Robert Wechsler
Here are two interesting local government ethics case studies from matters in the news this week.

A Job Can Effectively Be a Gift
According to an article in the Spokesman-Review, a Spokane council member requested an advisory opinion from the city's ethics committee after his successful push to change city regulations to allow bus bench...
Robert Wechsler

Updates: November 28, 2009 (see below, with December 23 correction)

When a local government official co-owns a company, is it enough to create a separate company owned solely by another co-owner to do business with the official's city?

According to an article in the Baton Rouge Advocate, this has become an issue in Lofourche Parish. The parish sheriff co-owns an ignition interlock device...