making local government more ethical

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Robert Wechsler
According to a post in the Crain's Insider blog last week, the New York City council hired as deputy general counsel a lobbyist whose firm recently had been the council speaker's campaign consultant (the speaker is the leader of the NY city council, elected by its members). This raises an interesting conflict issue relating not only to hiring...
Robert Wechsler
A conflict situation in my state of Connecticut is instructive regarding a basic concept of government ethics, as well as a basic concept of legislative immunity.

Legislators insist that they require immunity because their motives in making decisions cannot be questioned outside their body. Government ethics, on the other hand, does not consider motive, only conduct and relationships. This is one of the principal reasons why I argue that legislative immunity does not protect...
Robert Wechsler
Earlier this month, a bill came before the Israeli legislature, the Knesset, called the Machers Bill. Its goal is to expand the Knesset's lobbying law to the executive branch as well as to municipalities, something that is rare in American states.

But what is a "macher"? It's a Yiddish term that, in the U.S., is most frequently used with respect to people in the Jewish community who always have their fingers in everything that's going on. They make (machen) things happen...
Robert Wechsler
On Monday, Anthony Man of the Sun-Sentinel wrote an excellent analysis of the lobbying elements of Florida Senate bill 846 (a copy of the bill is attached; see below), which was recently passed by the senate unanimously.

The law would prohibit local officials from registering as a lobbyist of state legislators or agencies, except on behalf of...
Robert Wechsler
Rarely is a non-politician celebrity the subject of a local government ethics matter. So with David Beckham the subject of a Miami-Dade County ethics commission investigative report last week, and with important issues to boot [pun intended], this is an impossible matter to pass by.

Initiating Contact
The most interesting issues in this matter are whether lobbying is a one-way street, and the underlying issue: whether motive or intent is relevant to lobbying. That is,...
Robert Wechsler
Here's another story involving the lack of transparency. This time, the lack of transparency involves a company getting government grants.

According to an article from a week ago on, Brevard County, FL's commissioners approved a $205,000 grant for Project Magellan, a business development at the Melbourne...