making local government more ethical

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Post-Employment/Revolving Door

Robert Wechsler

Outside Ethics Commission Members
According to an article in yesterday's Salisbury (MD) Daily Times, the mayor of Snow Hill (pop. 2400) has decided to look outside his town for members of an ad hoc ethics commission to deal with an ethics complaint arising from a zoning appeals board decision.

"It's not that the...
Robert Wechsler
While on the subject of pension boards in California, it's worth mentioning a new California bill, Bill 1584, signed into law on October 18. It is an amendment to the County Employees Retirement Law of 1937 (Section 22212.5 of the Education Code, Sections 20098 and 31528 of the Government Code, with the addition of Sections 7508.5, 7513.8, 7513.85, 7513.9, and 7513.95 to...
Robert Wechsler
Preferential treatment is one of the most difficult ethics provisions to deal with, because it seems on its face so open-ended. Every time a decision is made, someone is preferred over someone else, whether it's a hiring decision, a contract award, or a zoning change. But if these decisions are made fairly and through the appropriate legal process, there is no preferential treatment.

Preferential treatment involves acting unfairly and outside the appropriate legal process to give...
Robert Wechsler
It may be midsummer, but it's still a busy season for local government ethics. Here's how a few local governments are dealing with ethics reform.

Palm Beach County commissioners agreed to create an inspector general and ethics commission, according to an article in the Palm Beach Post. The commission says it will ask voters in November 2010...
Robert Wechsler
In yesterday's miscellany, I talked about an ethics commission member conflicted due to having played a role in the campaign of an official brought before the commission. There are two ways to deal with such a conflict. One is to deal with it like any conflict, when it arises. The other is to prevent the conflict from occurring.

Normally, the right way to handle conflicts is the first way, when they arise...
Robert Wechsler
We here in the U.S. like to think of Canadians as like us, but better. More honest, less greedy, more accepting of diversity, etc. And they pay for it by being dull.

In the realm of government ethics, this sadly isn't true. At least in Montreal. According to a recent article in The Economist, Montreal was not only notorious for its...