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. [20.34]

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Session Materials

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

Robert Wechsler

The highest median income in 2005, and the fastest-growing county in the United States between 2000 and 2005. How does that translate in terms of local government ethics?

Sadly, not very well. The county is Loudoun in Virginia (principal town: Leesburg), not far from Washington, D.C. Although the issue politics is all about the pace of development (sold as "property rights"), the people politics has been all about connections with developers and realtors. Loudoun County provides an...

Robert Wechsler

North Carolina's 2006 state ethics reform turned out the lights, according to an article in yesterday's Charlotte Observer. The new system provides that there will be no public hearings before the new state ethics commission unless the accused asks for one. In many cases, when a case is dismissed or a reprimand is given, no one will ever know.

Hugh Stevens, a Raleigh attorney, is quoted as saying, very aptly, '...

Robert Wechsler

Lobbyists, lawmakers, and charitable fundraising form a triangle that is both virtuous and harmful.

Community leaders like to be identified with charitable groups, and charitable groups like to be identified with community leaders. It's a natural combination. But what is not natural, or even easy to see, is the line between charitable fundraising and campaign fundraising, when lobbyists, contractors, and developers enter into the picture.

The typical problem involves a mayor's...


The fact is that there is a failure on the part of the educational system to establish the differences between ethics, morals and justice. We expect the courts to provide justice, we deplore the lack of morals, but we as a group do not understand or apply or discuss ethics. Ethics, from the Greek "Ethos" or reason, had been the gold standard for educated minds since before the Reformation, but even the discussion of ethics is now seen to be a matter for university professors only and has...

Robert Wechsler

Here's a difficult case involving a board of education's attorney.

The board of education in a wealthy, medium-sized Connecticut town is represented by a large law firm that represents 80 boards of education across the state (half the state's total). That same firm is representing a developer that is suing the town's planning and zoning commission, and it appears to be a controversial matter.

There is no doubt that the state's rules of professional conduct allow a firm to...

Robert Wechsler

With the first quotation of the week, let's start at the beginning:

We become just by doing just acts. -Aristotle