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 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...

Robert Wechsler

On November 15, 2006, David Damron of the Orlando Sentinel reported on Lawson Lamar, the local state attorney's call for "sweeping new ethics laws he said would limit the influence of developers and other special interests on city and county governments. In a Nov. 2 letter to city and county leaders in Orange and Osceola [counties], Lamar urged them to pass new laws that would dramatically limit campaign...

Robert Wechsler

Open Letter to Illinois Chief Justice Robert R. Thomas:

The news media are probably the most important single element in providing oversight in government ethics matters. And the most effective way to keep the news media from doing their job is to file a libel suit.

The New York Times ran an excellent article yesterday by Katharine Q. Seelye, which focused on a libel suit you brought against a...