making local government more ethical

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Local Government Attorneys

Robert Wechsler
My second blog post on the Chicago ethics task force's second report identified what I considered to be its worst ideas. Mayor Emanuel's recommendations accepted its bad ideas just as much as its good ideas.

I considered the task force's worst idea to be having the corporation counsel play the role of prosecuting attorney in ethics...
Robert Wechsler
A front-page article in today's New York Times looks on a conflict situation that is usually ignored:  the unpaid adviser who effectively sells her inside, often confidential information to her clients. She is not technically a lobbyist, because her communications with officials are not intended to push for her clients' goals (although it is impossible to...
Robert Wechsler
Update: October 10, 2012 (see below)

So far, I have ignored this year's most famous local ethics proceeding, against San Francisco sheriff Ross Mirkarimi. The reason I ignored it is the reason I am writing about it now:  I think the proceeding should have been dismissed because the sheriff's misconduct involved neither a conflict of interest nor his official duties.

The fact that the complaint was brought by the mayor against an opponent on the city's board of...
Robert Wechsler
According to an article in the San Antonio Express-News this week, San Antonio's deputy city manager is concerned about whether he mishandled a conflict situation. It involved his participation on a bid review committee for a $300 million contract for an expansion to the city's convention center. While on the bid review committee, he interviewed for...
Robert Wechsler
This is the first of a series of looks at the ethics programs of smaller cities, towns, and counties. These local governments have the resources to create an independent, comprehensive ethics program, but they rarely do. It is valuable to look at both the good ideas and the bad ideas in the programs they have chosen to create.

I will start with League City, Texas, whose new ordinance dealing with electronic communications...
Robert Wechsler
Now that I am no longer administrator of the New Haven Democracy Fund, a public campaign financing program, I can once again write about ethics issues that arise in New Haven. An interesting issue arose when, according to an article in Monday's New Haven Register, a member of the city's ethics board took a part-time job with the city. The questions this raises are (1)...