making local government more ethical

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Robert Wechsler
This is the third blog post on the West Palm Beach Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) matter. This post considers the matter in the context of a wide range of problems affecting CRAs throughout southern Forida, which can be seen in reports in the area's newspapers and blogs. Several CRAs have also been investigated by various offices and commissions.

A CRA is, as...
Robert Wechsler
On April 17, the District of Columbia ethics board filed recommendations for ethics reform with the council (see my blog post on the recommendations). Council member Kenyan R. McDuffie has introduced a bill that includes some of these recommendations (attached; see below). On...
Robert Wechsler
Gifts to a local official can fall between jurisdictional cracks, as shown in an article today in the New York Times. They can also fall between definitional cracks. And between these cracks it's gray.

The article reports that, a couple of years ago, Newark NJ's mayor, Cory Booker, who is running for U.S. Senate, was given money by several high-tech...
Robert Wechsler
Yesterday, Oregon's Statesman Journal reported an interesting case that involves a number of important government ethics issues.

The state's Department of Corrections (DOC) deputy director allegedly used his position to influence an Oregon Corrections Enterprises (OCE) administrator into hiring his son and later giving him a higher salary and...
Robert Wechsler
A "placeholder" is someone who agrees to run on a ticket with a mayoral candidate or be appointed by him, but has no interest or intention in actually doing the work required by the position. Such a candidate does not attend many meetings of the body to which she was elected (often she is not even in town much of the year) and, when she does attend, is usually not prepared. When her support is needed, she will sometimes read a short speech prepared for her by someone else.

Robert Wechsler
Most of George Frederickson's lecture, "Searching for Virtue in the Public Life: Revisiting the Vulgar Ethics Thesis," involves what he calls "the modern extended state," the "vast public sea" in which governments float. This public sea includes entities with various "shades of publicness":  nonprofit and professional organizations, contractors and developers, lobbying firms,...