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Ethics Environments

Robert Wechsler
I thought that I had covered all the blind spots that wreak such havoc on local government ethics (see the section in my book Local Government Ethics Programs). But Dennis J. Moberg's essay, "Ethics Blind Spots in Organizations: How Systematic Errors in Person Perception Undermine Moral Agency...
Robert Wechsler
"The deep problem with the system was a kind of moral inertia. So long as it served the narrow self-interests of everyone inside it, no one on the inside would ever seek to change it, no matter how corrupt or sinister it became — though even to use words like 'corrupt' or 'sinister' made serious people uncomfortable, so Katsuyama avoided them. Maybe his biggest concern, when he spoke to city residents, was that he be seen as just another nut with a conspiracy theory."

This seems...
Robert Wechsler
The subject of Margaret Sullivan's Public Editor column in yesterday's New York Times is the corrupting influence of journalists getting too close to their sources. In other words, in the language of C.J. Roberts, "ingratiation and access." With respect to local government ethics, the subject would be the corrupting influence of relationships between local...
Robert Wechsler
Update: April 3, 2014 (see below)

Every so often, someone comes along and says, What's so bad about government officials' ethical misconduct? Isn't it worth having ethical misconduct if it means an effective government?

This time it's Hilary Krieger, a Washington Post editor, who recently made the argument in...
Robert Wechsler
I just finished reading the classic political science book Who Governs? Democracy and Power in an American City by Robert A. Dahl (Yale University Press, 1961). It might have been the second time around, because I did take an Urban Politics course forty years ago. The book happens to focus on New Haven, the city in whose suburbs I live and whose public campaign financing program I used to administer.
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...