This column is a service of the Institute for Local Government
(ILG) Ethics Project, which offers resources on public service
ethics for local officials. For more information,
visit www.ca-ilg.org/trust. ILG
thanks the following individuals for their contributions to this
article: Buck Delventhal, San Francisco City Attorney’s Office;
Joe Pannone, Aleshire and Wynder; Richard P. Shanahan,
Bartkiewicz, Kronick & Shanahan; and Louis Leone, Stubbs & Leone.
As the chief executive for a local government agency, I have seen
elected officials become bogged down in the details of various
ethics laws. Instead of examining the proper thing to do in a
specific situation, the focus shifts to whether a certain course
of action will get an official in trouble with the law.