making local government more ethical

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Post-Employment/Revolving Door

Robert Wechsler
(Note: This post has been revised, based on a response from Steve Berlin, executive director of Chicago's ethics board. I had made the silly assumption that the underlined language in the ethics reform ordinance was new. It turns out that much of that language has been there for some time. So I've deleted some comments and made changes to others.)

Recently, the Chicago council passed a series of ethics reforms (attached; see below) in response to the first report of the city...
Robert Wechsler
When it comes to post-employment restrictions, a mayor should not be considered as just a member of the legislative or executive branch, no matter what the form of government (strong mayor or mayor-council). A mayor has a special status that sets her apart from other local officials. Post-employment restrictions that apply only to one's branch or agency should not be relevant to a mayor. During the cooling-off period, a mayor should not do business with or lobby the government at all.
Robert Wechsler
Despite writing this blog for six years, I keep finding important areas of government ethics that I have not discussed. One such area involves dealing with the possible conflicts of outside auditors. Large cities and counties have internal auditors or comptrollers, but most local governments employ the services of external auditing firms, just as companies do. These auditors have special duties toward their clients, that is, to the community, not to the individuals who hire them and with whom...
Robert Wechsler
At the Institutional Corruption Conference sponsored by Harvard's Safra Center last Saturday, Bruce Cain, a professor at UC Berkeley, pointed out that the permeable boundary between government and business (and, I would add, business law) brings into government many individuals who have a different concept of ethics. That is, in the business world, loyalty to one's supervisors (or clients) and to the company is the most important thing. In government, loyalty should be to the public. Of course...
Robert Wechsler
On December 6, according to an article on the Chicago Talks website, Chicago mayoral candidate Rahm Emanuel promised that he would make many ethics reforms to “change the culture” of corruption and cronyism at City Hall.

Emanuel said he would require city employees to wait two years after leaving their city jobs before lobbying their former colleagues. He...
Robert Wechsler
It's been a year since I last wrote about placement agents, so it's time for an update, based on an article put up yesterday on the Forbes Magazine site, designated for the May 23 issue.

Placement agents are intermediaries between pension boards and companies that invest pension boards' funds. They are paid by the investment companies to win...