making local government more ethical

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Ethics Commissions/Administration

Robert Wechsler
City Attorney Ethics Enforcement in San Francisco
An article in the San Francisco Chronicle this week says that the city attorney filed a lawsuit against a former member of the board of supervisors (the city's legislative body) who acted as a lobbyist, but failed to register (in arguing that he was acting as an attorney, the supervisor pointed to an...
Robert Wechsler
What should an ethics program do when an agency or department takes ethics advice and enforcement into its own hands? This issue has arisen in Hawaii County, according to two articles in West Hawaii Today, one from two years ago, the other from last week.

Robert Wechsler
Although citizen participation is not part of government ethics, it's important to keep reminding ourselves that it is central to government ethics, because it is a principal goal of government ethics programs.

Officials' ethical misconduct undermines citizen trust and participation, but there are also other obstacles that get in the way. One of these is the lack of opportunity to express opinions in public forums at a time when input can make a difference. This post will look at...
Robert Wechsler
Since most local ethics commissions do not have the authority to initiate their own investigations or draft their own complaints (although in many cases this authority is not expressly withheld), there is a special role that former EC members, especially chairs, can play:  filing complaints that no one else will file.

According to a Santa Fe Reporter blog post this week, a...
Robert Wechsler
Updates: February 5 and April 16, 2014 (see below)

Here is a must-read Star-Ledger op-ed piece by Paula Franzese, a professor at Seton Hall Law School and former chair of the New Jersey Ethics Commission (2006 to 2010). She provides a short history of the selection process for the executive director of the state EC, and then looks more closely at the context of...
Robert Wechsler
This week, the Broward County (FL) inspector general filed a Review of the Existing Ethics Structure (attached; see below) of the countywide ethics program that he oversees, and which came into being via charter amendments overwhelmingly approved by the county's voters in late 2010. The 21-page report focuses on a two-part reform recommendation:  (1) an...