making local government more ethical

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Local Government Attorneys

Robert Wechsler
Ethics reform can take the oddest forms, especially when those doing it put on blinders and consider nothing but the situation before them, thereby failing to consider best practices or, in fact, the practices of any other jurisdiction.

This is the kind of ethics reform that recently happened in Park Ridge, IL, a suburb of Chicago with 37,000 inhabitants. According to...
Robert Wechsler
Another day, another grand jury report recommending government ethics reform. This report (attached; see below) comes from Orange County, NY, a county northwest of New York City, whose biggest town is Newburgh and whose most famous towns include the very different Tuxedo and Kiryas Joel.

The report criminally exonerates the county legislator who is its subject, because he did a couple things right:  he sought ethics advice from the ethics board, and he disclosed his employment with...
Robert Wechsler
According to an article this week in the Sun-Sentinel, the Broward County, FL commission is discussing changes to the countywide ethics program, focusing on gifts and ethics advice.

Gift Bans
Conversations about the problems with gift bans are like Hollywood monsters:  they never die (see ...
Robert Wechsler
When a city or county attorney's office does not represent the ethics commission, should that office play any role in an ethics proceeding? I don't believe it should.

But that is what happened recently in Cobb County, GA, according to an article last week in the Marietta Daily Journal. After an ethics complaint was...
Robert Wechsler
"'Public Service Must Begin at Home': The Lawyer as Civics Teacher in Everyday Practice" by Bruce A. Green and Russell G. Pearce (William & Mary Law Review, Vol. 50, p. 1207, 2009) provides an excellent basis for something that I consider extremely important to government ethics, but with which many government ethics practitioners disagree:  going beyond the law in the provision of government...
Robert Wechsler
In most cities and counties throughout the United States, the city or county attorney is in charge of the government ethics program. I have written a great deal about why this is not a best practice, but city and county attorneys still keep providing further reasons. Here's one from Tioga County, NY.

According to an article in the Star-...