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Ethics Officers

Robert Wechsler

Things are moving along well with the Palm Beach County ethics initiative, which I've written about in earlier blog posts (1  2). An inspector general, selected by the ethics commission and two state government attorneys, started work on June 28,...
Robert Wechsler
Indefinite benefits, like indirect benefits, are often not dealt with by ethics codes, and this means that they can cause confusion and controversy. This is one reason I tend to speak in terms of "possible conflicts," because possible conflicts based on indefinite benefits can be just as injurious to the public trust as certain conflicts based on certain benefits.

In the current situation in Cincinnati, it is not certain whether the streetcar project will benefit the council member...
Robert Wechsler
According to an article in yesterday's Morning Journal, the Law Director of Lorain, OH (a city of 70,000), advising a council member, said, “If his employer had a direct financial interest, he would have a conflict. But it does not.”

A council member who was vice president of a regional firefighters association (a union), although no longer a firefighter...
Robert Wechsler
Gray areas in local government ethics don't necessarily have to be gray areas.

According to an article last week in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, a council member whose brother is a lieutenant in the city jail has been very vocal in opposing a plan to lease the jail to the county in which Atlanta sits. It is possible that the council member's brother would lose his job...
Robert Wechsler

City Ethics' president and Jacksonville ethics officer, Carla Miller, is taking best practices to a new level in Florida. She is organizing a statewide local government ethics swap meeting, where local government ethics officials will share information and talk about swapping software and programs.

For example, Jacksonville has developed an online transparency compliance program, and other Florida local governments have developed online lobbying registration software. Local...
Robert Wechsler
When a major newspaper's editorial on a city council's handling of an important ethics issue begins with "Sneaky. Real sneaky." it's something worth sharing with those interested in local government ethics.

The newspaper is the Jacksonville Times-Union, and the editorial on a new bill to take the city's ethics commission and ethics...