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Abstract

The New York Temporary State Commission on Local Government Ethics was constituted in 1987 in response to several ethics scandals in New York City government. The commission was tasked primarily with aiding local governments in evaluating and revising their own ethics standards, and with proposing new municipal ethics legislation for the State of New York. The commission's proposal for local ethics reform rested on the propositions that most local officials are honest and ethical; that local governments are heavily dependent on volunteers; that local government ethics must be enforced at the local level; that ethics rules must be reasonable, sensible, and uniform; and that enforcement of ethics rules must be inexpensive and flexible. The proposed ethics revisions conceive of a tripartite approach that combines a comprehensive code of ethics, with disclosure requirements, and effective but flexible enforcement mechanisms. Despite widespread approval by local government and print media sources, and the governor's office, however, the New York State legislature did not act on the commission's proposals.

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