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Ethics Training

Robert Wechsler
Last week, the Houston council passed a number of amendments to its ethics ordinance. They were billed as a big step forwards, but I do not agree. In this post, I will look at what people have been saying about the reforms and how the role of the ethics commission has changed. In the next post I will take a critical look at the new provisions.

State Law and Criminalizing Ethics
"We had no intention to prosecute someone for an offense under the ordinance that would not be...
Robert Wechsler
Government Executives and the Ethics Commission Selection Process
Should government chief executives appoint ethics commission members or their staff? The common practice is that they usually do. But the common practice is not necessarily the best practice, especially when it puts a conflict of interest at the heart of the conflict of interest process.

This issue has arisen in a very concrete way in Montana, where the governor is faced with appointing a new...
Robert Wechsler
Referendum Requires Ethics Training and Increases Penalties
I learned at the COGEL conference last week that a referendum passed in New York City last month requires all city officials and employees to receive conflict of interest training. The Conflicts of Interest Board (COIB) does provide training, but officials and employees are not required to take it. This change is extremely valuable.

The referendum also increased penalties for violating the conflicts of...
Robert Wechsler
I recently read a book by Stanley Cavell called Cities of Words: Pedagogical Letters on a Register of the Moral Life (2004). Despite its title, it is not about cities; in fact, much of the book uses movies to discuss this Harvard professor's ethical philosophy. What is relevant about this book to government ethics is Cavell's idea of "moral perfectionism," which isn't about being...

At the annual Council on Governmental Ethics conference in Washington D.C.

From left:

  • Kurt Nemes, World Bank Ethics Office
  • Carla Miller, City Ethics
  • Matt Cross, Office of Governmental Ethics

Each presented as a part of an ethics training seminar in Washington DC, Dec. 2010


Robert Wechsler
Hidden in the middle of Question 2 on the New York City ballot this week are two important changes in the city's conflicts of interest law (to my knowledge, the nation's only aptly named ethics code). The current conflicts of interest section of the city charter can be found at pp. 319 ff.

The first is...