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. [20.25]

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

The ethics reforms coming out of New York and Utah provide two contrasting, yet equally questionable approaches. In New York state, ethics legislation was negotiated among the new governor, the assembly speaker, and the senate majority leader, behind closed doors. In Utah, the governor said he would issue an executive order.

The background for each of these approaches is the same: the legislature could not or would not come up with ethics reform on its own. The Utah governor said he'd...

Robert Wechsler

As I state in my comments to section 207 of the model code, cutting the funding of ethics commissions is a popular way for politicians to prevent investigations from happening. Therefore, ethics reformers are always looking for new ways to ensure funding.

In Oregon, legislators decided to turn to local governments as a dedicated source of funding of an ethics commission that oversees local government officials.

Click here to read the...

Robert Wechsler

What's the difference between wearing multiple hats and having conflicts of interest?

Former Vancouver City Manager Ken Dobell is the project manager (contractor, not employee) for a cultural precinct in Vancouver, British Columbia. He is also chair of the finance committee of the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. He is also a long-time adviser to British Columbia's Premier, Gordon Campbell (under contract; formerly Deputy Minister to the...

Robert Wechsler

One of the most serious obstacles to ethics training is cynicism. For example, a councilman in South Lake Tahoe, California said, according to a recent article in the Tahoe Daily Tribune, that the California requirement of ethics training for all municipal officials is an indication of a breakdown in trust in local government and "It's not going to change behavior. [It] creates a job for someone."


Robert Wechsler

How can an ethics commission be truly independent?

In the model code I wrote as the beginning of what I hope will be a long public conversation about all aspects of municipal ethics, I suggest that a municipality's legislative body appoint members from a list given to them by the local League of Women Voters.

I did not mean to prefer this particular organization, but to get people thinking (and talking) about the possibility of having an independent,...

Robert Wechsler

When an ethics commission is appointed by the city's principal officials, can it possibly clear the air with respect to allegations against them? Baltimore's Board of Ethics has five members, four of them appointed by the mayor, three of those confirmed by the Council, and the fifth member appointed by the city solicitor, who is in turn a mayoral appointee.

According to...