making local government more ethical

Save time and effort

by reading our introduction to local government ethics or using the City Ethics Model Code. Also check out our top ten lists of books, or movies.

Open Source Tools

A review of the various products of Carla's network fellowship at the Safra Center for Ethics @ Harvard University.

Review our Publications

We now have several publications available in various digital formats, including all major e-Reader formats! Please go HERE to view.

Session Materials

Session Notes for recent presentations by Carla Miller. e.g. #UNRIG 2018

Robert Wechsler

"Passion" is not the first word that comes to mind when one thinks about municipal ethics (but it would be interesting to know what word does first come to mind). And yet passion is what you can find in an article and on-line discussion about a current conflict controversy in Billings, Montana.

At first glance, it seems to be a minor conflict problem (which is what many discussants passionately...

Robert Wechsler

One thing that's good about local government is that so much of it is done by volunteers. Volunteers aren't professional politicians. They have something better to do with their time.

Yes, most of them do. But for many, government service is central to what they do with the great bulk of their time.

An article in the Alamogordo, New Mexico Daily News (12/27/06) focuses on the most basic and, apparently,...

Robert Wechsler

The first antitrust probe of the municipal bond market began in November, and except for one article from Bloomberg, it has been entirely ignored.

According to the Bloomberg article, the Justice Department's Antitrust Division is looking for evidence of bid rigging, that is, collusion between banks and brokers to fix prices on guaranteed investment contracts (GICs). GICs are arrangements by...

Robert Wechsler

Local government attorneys have special conflict of interest problems. Should there be ethics rules particularly aimed toward them?

Here's a recent example of a situation that could have been prevented by such rules. In Reading, Pennsylvania, a city councilman asked the city's Board of Ethics for an advisory opinion concerning the fact that the Reading Area Water Authority had contracts with a company owned by the authority's executive director. The Board of Ethics determined that...

Robert Wechsler

Gerald Ford's passing revives the memory of one of the least remembered parts of the story of the Watergate affair: the pardon of Richard Nixon.

Remembering the pardon is important because it shows two important things about government ethics enforcement. First, how ethics rules are enforced is more important than the rules themselves. If rules are enforced with vengeance or if rules are enforced mechanically, they will not be respected except by those who desire vengeance instead of...

Robert Wechsler

In the November 5 issue of the New York Times Book Review, Michael Kinsley wrote, "The biggest flaw in our democracy is ... the enormous tolerance for intellectual dishonesty. Politicians are held to account for outright lies, but there seems to be no sanction against saying things you obviously don't believe. ... Yet one minor exercise in disingenuousness can easily...