making local government more ethical

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Robert Wechsler
A recent post on Philadelphia's Parents United for Public Education blog raises an issue that pulls together FOI and confidential information issues. Entitled "Is 'right to know' the new 'pay to play'?", the post is about Parents United's attempt to make public a report that contains a list of Philadelphia schools recommended for closure and the criteria used for developing the list...
Robert Wechsler
In my estimation, Seattle voters made a big mistake last week. They voted for two related changes to their government. One was a public campaign financing program for citywide council elections. The other was a change from citywide council elections to district council elections, which would leave only two citywide positions.

Public financing was rejected 51.6% vs. 48.4%. Council districts were accepted 65.6% vs. 34.4%. Both votes will lead to more institutional corruption in...
Robert Wechsler
Update: February 7, 2014
It took the Jon Stewart Show three months to catch up with the City Ethics blog, but it was worth the wait. You have to watch the video they made about the Coralville, IA situation I discuss below. The defense of what occurred is truly incredible.

There has always been independent spending in local elections, and it has always been (and been seen as) a source of...
Robert Wechsler
Updated: November 20, 2013 (see below)

The gift regulation proposed by Philadelphia's ethics board last week (attached; see below) provides a great opportunity to consider many issues involving gift bans and exceptions.

It's a great thing that the ethics board has chosen to provide guidance with respect to the city's gift ban, which is not itself very clear. However, I don't think it did a very good job. I'm a big fan of Philadelphia's ethics program, but this...
Robert Wechsler
It all started with the indictment, on charges of bribery and theft, of a Fats, Oil & Grease inspector back in November 2010. It led to an 83-page grand jury report in August 2013, which set out the misconduct involving the DeKalb County (GA) Department of Watershed Management (DWM) procurement process, and made recommendations not only for indictments, but also for an...
Robert Wechsler
The Privatization of Economic Development
A fascinating report has just been published by Good Jobs First, entitled "...