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

Hello all members,

Our Research Director, Robert Wechsler has been following this issue with interest, and would like to get some Ethics practitioners to weigh in on the issue.

Robert Wechsler

Early on, I did a blog entry on apology. I even included apology in 107(1) of the Model Ethics Code, as a stated option for officials, so that their municipality does not have to go to the trouble of investigating their actions and holding hearings.

Yesterday, I attended a lecture by Nancy Berlinger of the Hastings Center in Garrison, NY on apology in the medical context. I think...

Robert Wechsler

Personal interest vs. public interest is central to government ethics. We tend to think, however, that it's central to them (officials) not to us (citizens), and that we have nothing to learn from this sort of ethics. Well, we're wrong. Take flu shots, for instance. People get flu shots because they feel they are personally likely to be seriously harmed by the flu (older people, very young children) or likely to contract it (people who work in hospitals and schools).

But what if...

Robert Wechsler

Buried in my blog entry on the Louisiana legislators' attempt to undermine recusal on constitutional grounds is a short discussion of what I refer to as 'the public-interested side' of recusal. I would like to talk a little more about this, because I think the failure to discuss it enough is a serious problem.

When a government official has a conflict of interest, he or she is forced to choose between conflicting obligations. We all...

Robert Wechsler

Before I got around to putting up a blog entry on the ethics mess in Louisiana, it took a turn for the worse. What started as two legislators protecting the jobs, respectively, of their father and their brother, has turned into a full-fledged constitutional battle that could undermine the concept of recusal for conflicts of interest nationwide.

As it is now, ethics codes usually require that legislators, state and municipal, refrain from participating or voting in matters where they...

Robert Wechsler

No, the class exception does not except classy people from ethics codes. It excepts people from recusing themselves when the interests they have that would be affected by an act or decision are similar to a broad class of people. The biggest class is, of course, taxpayers. Municipal officials can vote for budgets even though their taxes are affected by it. Other classes excepted without controversy include homeowners, renters, members of a pension plan, and business owners. But the smaller...