making local government more ethical

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Robert Wechsler
Booms and busts are common not only in a financial system. They are also common in government ethics.

Booms are when things are good, when local politicians seem worthy of our trust. Busts are when we find out that things aren't what they seemed. In other words, when there's a scandal.

In an Economist guest article last week, economist Raghuram Rajan wrote about the...
Robert Wechsler
One of the principal reasons I have focused my energies on local government ethics is that most people learn their government ethics at the local level. What they see people doing on councils and zoning boards, they do on state legislatures and commissions, and then again at the federal level.

But things go the other way, as well. Disdain for government ethics at the state level can affect the ethics environments of that state's local governments. This appears to be happening in...
Robert Wechsler
Anonymous complaints are both important and problematic. Without anonymous tips and hotlines, our justice system would not work nearly as well as it does. With ethics programs, officials involved in unethical conduct often have great power in the community, and the people who know what they are doing are often the very people most vulnerable to their retribution.

And yet there is an air of cowardice around anonymous complaints, possibly even moreso now that people make anonymous...