making local government more ethical

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Post-Employment/Revolving Door

Robert Wechsler
In a letter to the editor in yesterday's New York Times, two lawyers who represent clients seeking to gut Arizona's Citizens Clean Elections public campaign financing program end by calling Arizona's program "a vision of unconstitutional dystopia, not free speech."

I administer the public campaign financing program in New Haven, CT. These programs are intended to...
Robert Wechsler
It is generally agreed that it is best to preserve an ethics commission's jurisdiction over officials and employees after they quit or leave office. There are two reasons for this. One, to prevent them from escaping enforcement by quitting or leaving office. This is especially important because it can take a long time for information to come out that an ethics violation might have occurred, and for an ethics proceeding to be completed. The second reason is to allow for post-employment...
Robert Wechsler

Term limits, the recession, a new kind of governmental district, and a drive to save and manage local parks have all contributed to a fascinating ethics situation in Pierce County, Washington, home of Tacoma. Just last year I stayed in Pierce County and visited some of these parks, so this story is a little more concrete to me than most I write about.

Park Districts
According to...
Robert Wechsler
The U.S. is not the only country with a revolving-door problem. In Japan, the problem is deeply institutionalized. It is as much a part of the retirement system as pensions.

But the Japanese name for the revolving door shows that not only does the system work in a different manner than ours, but that the Japanese have a different opinion of the relative value of government and business. The name is amakudari, which means "descent from heaven," the way Shinto gods used to...
Robert Wechsler
According to an article in Tuesday's Hartford Advocate, a complaint has been filed with Hartford's ethics commission by a council member against the former corporation counsel on the grounds that he had taken a job with a law firm that had received hundreds of thousands of dollars in contracts overseen by the corporation...
Robert Wechsler
At last week's COGEL conference, I learned about a judicial case involving the Anne Arundel County (MD) Ethics Commission, which has been going on for six years. A decision of the Court of Special Appeals last November is worth a look. There's a lot of interesting material for local government ethics professionals. Two of the issues the case raises are the difference between legal ethics and government ethics,...