making local government more ethical

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Ethics Officers

Robert Wechsler
Update: March 19, 2011 (see below)

Last December I wrote a long blog post about the pay-to-play culture of Prince George's County, Maryland. The new county executive and the county's state representatives appear to have been working hard to make changes to end this pay-to-play culture, although you wouldn't know it from...
Robert Wechsler
Conning Citizens
Car towing is one of the biggest temptations in local government. A police officer goes to the scene of an accident, and one or more drivers needs to have their cars towed. The drivers are injured or at least in shock, and rarely thinking straight. The officer has been offered so many dollars per car that he steers to a towing company or a bodywork shop with a tow truck. No one will know and no one will be hurt. It might be called a kickback, but it's no more than...
Robert Wechsler
Despite the many differences between corporate and government ethics, sometimes the corporate ethics world has a lot to teach the government ethics world, especially considering that corporate ethics has a zillion times the personnel and budget to work with.

One example of this appears in a Harvard Business Review blog post yesterday by Francesca Gino, a Harvard Business School...
Robert Wechsler
Update: August 26, 2011 (see below)

At the same time there is talk of local government ethics reform in New York State, the new attorney general has his own plan for local government oversight. But it is all criminal in nature.

His idea is to place public integrity officers in all thirteen attorney general offices in the state, starting with Rochester. The new attorney general's predecessor, now...
Robert Wechsler
You can learn something from every local government ethics code there is, and especially from codes that have only been proposed. Today I'm going to look at a proposed ethics code for Glen Ellyn, IL, a western suburb of Chicago (pop. 27,000). The proposed code and resolution are attached; see below.

Aspirational Policies
One of the most striking things about the Glen Ellyn proposal is not...
Robert Wechsler

I have abstained because some unnamed person tried to question my integrity and silence my voice on this issue. So I was forced to ask the Ethics Officer for an opinion, and she gave me one. She told me I could participate in the debate and that I could actually vote on this issue. But because we're dealing with politics, and, as Jim Maddox always said, you can never take the p out of politics, I've got to think and calculate down the road to see if someone would try to use my vote against...