Corruption and American Cities

Essays and Case Studies in Ethical Accountability


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About the Book

Corruption is a chronic public concern affecting America’s cities. Greed, ethical lapses and lack of accountability have drained untold millions in tax dollars. Corrupt practices range from embezzlement, graft, bribery, kickbacks, extortion, nepotism and patronage to the misuse of funds, vehicles, equipment, supplies and other public resources. Court proceedings to investigate and prosecute perpetrators add to the cost. Media exposés have magnified the spectacle of abusive and unethical government. This book investigates the reasons behind corruption and imparts guidelines for better accountability.

About the Author(s)

Joaquin Jay Gonzalez III, Ph.D., is vice provost for global affairs as well as chair and Mayor George Christopher Professor of Public Administration at Golden Gate University. He founded GGU’s law enforcement and security program and is a San Francisco advocate for the safety and security of Filipino American kids and their families.

Roger L. Kemp, Ph.D., ICMA-CM, has been a city manager on both the East and West coasts for more than 25 years. He is presently Distinguished Adjunct Professor of Public Administration at Golden Gate University and a Fellow of The Academy of Political Science.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Joaquin Jay Gonzalez III and Roger L. Kemp

Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 240
Bibliographic Info: appendices, index
Copyright Date: 2016
pISBN: 978-1-4766-6577-1
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2714-4
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vi
Preface 1
Part I: The State of Corruption
1. The Town That Can’t Seem to Govern Itself (Daniel C. Vock) 7
2. Drained (Josh Goodman) 11
3. Dilemmas Faced When Contracting Out Public Services (Andrea Headley) 15
4. Chicago and Illinois, Leading the Pack in Corruption (Dick Simpson et al.) 17
5. The Dark Side of Awards and Accountability (Ken Miller) 21
6. Public Corruption: An Ethical Challenge (Dulce Pamela Baizas) 25
7. Corruption—An Enlightened ­Self-Interest? (Ravi Subramanian) 27
8. When Does Politicians’ Unethical Behavior Become a Crime? (Alan Ehrenhalt) 29
9. Managing Public Mistrust of Government (Brynne VanHettinga) 32
10. Coffee and Doughnuts: Building Accountability (John J. Carroll) 34
11. Can Police Departments Reduce Implicit Bias? (Paul Figueroa) 37
Part II: Practices and Possibilities
A. Classic
12. Cuyahoga County’s Road to Recovery from Corruption  (Josh Goodman) 41
13. How Public Professionals Stay Politically Neutral  (Roger L. Kemp) 43
14. How Would It Look in the Paper?  (Bob Stone) 45
15. Charlotte Mayor Resigns After Arrest on Corruption Charges (Mark Washburn, Jim Morrill and Michael Gordon) 47
16. The Costs of Public Corruption  (Patrick Fitzgerald) 51
17. Whistleblowers Anonymous  (Tom Arrandale) 53
18. Regaining the Public’s Trust  (G. Edward DeSeve) 57
19. New York Corruption Investigation Trends  (Chelsea A. Binns) 59
20. Lack of Oversight Led to ­Ex-Water Agency Head’s Conviction  (Dan Ivers) 61
21. How We’re Losing the War on Corruption  (Mark Funkhouser) 63
22. Municipal Employees Retirement System Faces Questions (Kevin Litten) 65
23. Responding to an Ethical Crisis (Kevin Duggan) 67
24. Ethics: Focus on the Fundamentals (Martha Perego) 69
25. Ethics, Front and Center (Troy Brown) 71
B. Contemporary
26. Local Government Ethics Reform (Robert Wechsler) 75
27. Assessing the Ethical Culture of Your Agency (JoAnne Speers, Jan Perkins and Arne Croce) 81
28. Building a Strong Local Government Ethics Program (Michael W. Manske and H. George Frederickson) 85
29. Ethics: Alive and Well  (Elizabeth Kellar and Jan Perkins) 91
30. Ethics in Public Management Education  (Alicia Schatteman 94
31. Key Elements to Building Transparent Communities International City/County Management Association 96
32. A Dose of Transparency (Penelope Lemov) 101
33. Introducing the Cycle of Transparency (Paul Blumenthal) 105
34. Council-Manager or Strong Mayor? International City/County (Management Association and California City Management Foundation) 108
35. A ­Cost-Effective Way to Bust (and Prevent) Contractor Fraud (Jim Sullivan) 111
36. City-State Oversight of Funds Given to Nonprofits Lacking (Zach Patton) 113
37. Vigilance Required for New York Government Employees (Chelsea A. Binns) 120
38. Lessons of Bell, California (Michael McGrath) 122
39. Where Our Profession Is Making a Difference (Kevin Duggan) 126
40. Prudent Options for Balancing Public Budgets (Roger L. Kemp) 133
41. The Seven Deadly Sins of Public Finance (Liz Farmer) 138
42. Body-Worn Cameras: Using the Wealth of Data Effectively (Paul Figueroa) 143
43. Report Grades Cities’ Spending Transparency Websites (Mike Maciag) 148
44. Using Technology to Increase Access and Transparency (Brian A. Moura) 150
45. Unlike Zoos, Public Health Departments Don’t Need National Accreditation  (Mattie Quinn) 153
Part III: Caveats and the Future
46. Speak Out, Do the Right Thing and You’re Fired! (Brynne VanHettinga) 155
47. Dealing with Public Mistrust  (Dana K. Lee) 157
48. When Transparency Fails to Produce Accountability  (Pospere Charles) 160
49. When Transparency Becomes the Enemy of Accountability (Stuart C. Gilman and Howard Whitton) 162
50. How to Embed Transparency into Collaborative Governance (Jusil Lee and Erik W. Johnston) 165
51. Corruption, Ethics and Accountability (Rod Erakovich et al.) 168
52. Anti-Corruption Effort Targets All the States (Neal Peirce) 170
53. States Disclose Economic Development Subsidies (Mike Maciag) 172
54. Why It Might Finally Get Easier to Access Public Data (Liz Farmer) 175
55. The Truth about Public Employees in California (Sylvia A. Allegretto and Jeffrey Keefe) 177
56. Disclosing Public Employee Pay Troubles Some Officials (Mike Maciag) 186
I. Professional Code of Ethics (Government Finance Officers Association) 189
II. Code of Ethics with Guidelines  (International City/County Management Association) 191
III. Proposed Code of Ethics for Municipal Officials (State of Connecticut) 196
IV. Transparency in Government Procurement (National Institute of Governmental Purchasing) 213
V. Glossary of ­Anti-Corruption Practices (Joaquin Jay Gonzalez III) 220
About the Editors and Contributors 223
Index 225

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “This is an outstanding compilation of data addressing government corruption. A must read for anyone wishing to hold their local government accountable.”—Edward Hazel, Prosecutor
  • “If you care about good governance, you need to read this examination of one of its most difficult issues.”—James Nordin, Treasurer, City of Rio Vista, California
  • “An essential resource for practitioners and academics committed to curbing corruption and promoting ethical governance.”—Donald C. Menzel, Past President, American Society for Public Administration
  • “This is a remarkable collection of stories and analyses of corruption and anti-corruption attempts in the United States…America leads the world in anti-corruption legislation but it lags in enforcement. This volume underscores the challenges and opportunities facing reformers on the look-out for the public good.”—Emil Bolongaita, Professor, Carnegie Mellon University
  • “The book touches upon a very sensitive issue to Americans—public integrity! America was already tormented before by a ‘Spoils System’ of government and the book does a fine job of highlighting similar ethical issues and providing inspiring anti-corruption practices.” —Lt. Carlos Sanchez, San Francisco District Attorney’s Office
  • “Very interesting and timely book, with a unique mix of analysis and relevant case studies… demonstrates the problem of corruption and mismanagement from an angle not always analyzed in the literature in such lucid terms.”—Gambhir Bhatta, Technical Advisor (Governance), Asian Development Bank
  • “This is an important work. Shinning a light on corruption in America is essential for the health of our democracy.”—Ruth S. Astle, Administrative Law Judge (retired), State of California