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

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...

Robert Wechsler

The New York Times has been running a series of articles about municipal pension funds (by Mary Williams Walsh, Michael Cooper, and Danny Hakim, August 20, 22, 27, September 1, 4, 2006). The articles focus on two principal problems: (1) pensions have been increased, largely in order to get short-term cuts in negotiations with unions, and (2) calculations to determine the health of pension plans usually have little relationship to reality. Each problem is essentially an ethical problem...

Robert Wechsler

Contracting is one of the municipal ethics issues that is most often overlooked as an ethics issue. One reason is that the laws governing competitive bidding are often at the state level. Another is that municipal competitive bidding laws often appear outside codes of ethics (often because they are state mandated). But municipal contracting should be at the center of ethics concerns, because it is a relatively secret area where a great deal of wrongdoing and harm can occur.


Robert Wechsler

Reading the newspapers, you might not realize that behind all the fraud, non-disclosure, and "reckless mismanagement" that former S.E.C. Chair Arthur Levitt found in San Diego's pension and wastewater systems were serious conflicts of interest. The sort of conflicts of interest that most people consider "just doing business."

The August 8 New York Times article does refer to these conflicts, recognizing that...

Robert Wechsler

There are municipal ethics issues that will never find their way into any ethics code, but which should certainly be covered in ethics training courses. Many of these issues involve the relationship between government and businesses.

If there were no money to be made in and through municipal government, there would be far less need for ethics programs. Power does corrupt, but it's no accident that corruption so often involves relations with developers and contractors. It's also no...