Issue 105 - November 2020
This year’s virtual Risk Management Educational Forum, Resilient Together, featured a video tribute to the Authority’s members. The tribute video highlighted the many different challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic and also inspired attendees through sharing stories of resilience and overcoming obstacles in these unprecedented times.
The Authority received an overwhelming response to requests for submissions. Several members expressed the challenges of finances and staffing being impacted by the pandemic. Others mentioned the difficulty in continuing to provide a high level of service to the community through solutions such as remote work and proper distancing procedures. Others faced the additional hardship of a natural disaster during the pandemic, such as the fires in the City of Malibu.
Although a wide range of obstacles continue, our members have adapted to the changing times. The City of Calabasas extended a grant program for businesses that was impacted by the pandemic, and the city also offered online community programs. The City of Lakewood carried out a community event through a socially distanced drive-thru. The City of Norwalk set up new cleaning and distancing procedures for its public transportation, which also serves surrounding communities that need the system for work and travel. These are just a few of our members’ amazing efforts that were highlighted during Resilient Together.
The Authority is interested in continuing to hear about members that have undertaken amazing efforts to be resilient during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. If you are interested in sharing your agency’s story, please contact Abraham Han or your assigned Risk Manager.Print Article
The Annual Board of Directors Meeting was held on October 28, 2020 with a quorum of delegates in attendance, representing 83 member agencies. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting recommendations that public health officials and federal, state, and local governments have issued in response, the Annual Meeting of the Board of Directors took place virtually, a first in the Authority’s history.
The Authority’s membership is governed by an appointed Board of Directors and an elected, nine-member Executive Committee. The Board of Directors consists of one representative from the legislative body of each member of the Authority.
“The Board of Directors is a vital aspect of the organization,” says Jon Shull, Chief Executive Officer. “Through the composition of our Board of Directors, elected officials from our member agencies, we ensure that the Authority remains a member-focused organization that makes decisions for the benefit of the entire membership.”
Margaret Finlay, President of the Executive Committee, welcomed delegates and guests and thanked the delegates for their leadership and service to the Authority and their respective member agencies.
President Finlay recognized the Authority’s newest members: Rossmoor Community Services District and the cities of Hemet, Lemon Grove, Pacific Grove, Stanton, Vista, and West Covina. The Authority’s membership is composed of 123 municipal agencies including 98 cities, 18 joint powers authorities, and seven special districts.
The Board of Directors elected Mary Ann Reiss, Vice President of the Executive Committee. Tom Chavez, City of Temple City; Sylvia Muñoz Schnopp, City of Port Hueneme; Steve Tye, City of Diamond Bar; and Mark Waronek, City of Lomita were elected as members of the Executive Committee, each serving a two-year term.
Chief Executive Officer, Jon Shull, and Chief Financial Officer, Alexander Smith presented the Authority’s budgets for fiscal years 2020-2021 and 2021-2022. The Board of Directors unanimously approved the budgets.
Jon Shull presented an operational overview, and current initiatives of the Authority, with emphasis on continued commitment to the foundational principals of integrity, excellence, innovation, and teamwork.
The meeting was adjourned to a meeting to coincide with the 26th Annual Risk Management Educational Forum, September 15-17, 2021 in Carlsbad.Print Article
Although many professional events shifted from in-person to virtual formats this fall, the Authority still reinforced partnerships with and presented risk management best practices to elected officials and municipal staff at the California Contract Cities Association’s Virtual Fall Educational Summit, the League of California Cities’ Annual Conference & Expo, and the Municipal Management Association of Southern California’s Virtual Annual Conference.
The trio of speaking engagements began when Workers’ Compensation Program Manager Jeff Rush and Senior Risk Manager Maria Galvan presented at the California Contract Cities Association’s (CCCA) Virtual Fall Educational Summit on September 17. The Authority supports the CCCA’s efforts to strengthen local control and governance as a Platinum Sponsor. Rush and Galvan’s session, “Employer Risk Management in the COVID-19 Era,” covered how the pandemic has impacted cities—especially because many city workers are also essential workers—as well as what employers must do to keep their facilities safe and not run afoul of employment or safety concerns.
Next, the Authority, a proud Platinum Partner of the League of California Cities since 2016, hosted a booth and presented a session during the League’s Virtual Annual Conference & Expo, October 7-9. Lakewood City Manager Thaddeus McCormack, chair of the Authority’s Managers Committee, as well as former South Gate City Manager Michael Flad, Bell Mayor Ali Saleh, and Bell City Attorney Dave Aleshire, presented on the topic of “Ten Years After the Bell Scandal: Are We More Ethical?”. The panel addressed how, ten years after revelations of corruption, the City of Bell has progressed toward restoring sound ethics and restoring its reputation. Content focused on real life experience with ethical lapses, the heavy lifting involved with overcoming incidents of abuse of public trust, and ethical dilemmas when leaders are forced to choose between competing values and maintain the public’s trust in the process.
The Authority, also a proud Platinum Partner of the Municipal Management Association of Southern California (MMASC), concluded its series of presentations with a panel at the MMASC Virtual Annual Conference on October 27. During the session, “Risk Management 101 for Future City Managers,” Tripepi Smith President Ryder Todd Smith led a discussion among California JPIA Chief Financial Officer Alex Smith, Tripepi Smith Director Mike Egan, and Indian Wells Deputy City Manager Peter Castro about why risk management is important and how to reduce liability exposure.
“It was a great session,” said Arabo Parseghian, division manager for the City of La Cañada Flintridge. “The role of risk management is not to be the group that says ‘no’ to new and innovative ideas under the umbrella of eliminating risk. It is to work with other staff to make projects happen by creating plans to mitigate risk so that the project can come to fruition.”
Also during the MMASC Virtual Annual Conference, Chief Executive Officer Jon Shull had the opportunity to introduce keynote speaker Lawrence Greenspun, director of public sector engagement at Claremont Graduate University’s Drucker Institute. Greenspun discussed planned abandonment—the practice of identifying and abandoning old and unrewarding practices, programs, and services—as a path to innovation.
“The California JPIA is proud to provide learning opportunities for municipal managers and elected officials at all levels,” said Shull. “By supporting organizations including the California Contract Cities Association, League of California Cities, and Municipal Management Association of Southern California, the Authority is investing in the education and enrichment of decision-makers and advancing local priorities at city halls throughout the state.”Print Article
At its meeting of September 23, 2020, the Executive Committee reviewed and approved a pilot program for Cordico. Cordico is a mobile wellness app which provides law enforcement and fire departments with a comprehensive approach to managing stress and mental health.
The Authority has become aware of increasing challenges within the membership in trying to manage stress and mental health, especially among public safety personnel. In recent months, this has become more apparent with the additional challenges of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and civil unrest. As such, Authority staff saw a timely opportunity to begin helping members proactively address these types of challenges in order to reduce exposure to potential claims related to stress and other mental or emotional health issues.
By virtue of on-demand access to wellness content and resources, Cordico addresses the challenge of covering a variety of topics. Cordico covers areas including, emotional health, stress management, injury prevention, depression, and grief and loss.
Cordico users can get immediate and personalized access to wellness resources that might otherwise be difficult to obtain or coordinate. This holistic approach has the potential to allow law enforcement and firefighting personnel to address the direct sources of stress and lessen the likelihood that stress can negatively overlap into other areas of their lives.
Given the increasing demand for wellness services, recent trends in mental stress claims, and positive end-user feedback from agencies which have used Cordico on a first-hand basis, the Authority will begin a small-scale pilot program. Upon the conclusion of the pilot , Authority staff will conduct a review of the various elements of the program to determine whether a full-scale program should be considered and rolled out to the membership at large.
Members who have taken advantage of the Authority’s Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Financing Program likely recognize Management Analyst Abraham Han for his work to help their agencies comply with the ADA. Han commemorates five years of providing analytical support, managing technical resources, and coordinating programs for the Authority this month.
Han, who interned with the cities of Garden Grove and Villa Park, joined the Authority from the City of La Habra Heights, where he advanced his career from intern to management analyst to senior management analyst. He holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Southern California and a master’s degree in public administration from California State University, San Bernardino.
“Because most of my local government experience has been with smaller cities, I am aware of the immense pressure that public servants feel in maximizing resourcefulness for their residents,” he said. “Having personally experienced this, I am attuned to how the Authority can be a tremendous help to agencies whose bandwidths are full because of lean staffing and multiple priority projects. Understanding those kinds of strains allows me to view the Authority’s programs and resources with a more focused understanding of the value proposition.”
Han’s first interaction with the Authority—then as a member agency staff member—occurred when he emailed Training Coordinator Michelle Aguayo with a training-related question. “I do not remember what the question dealt with, but I still clearly remember that I received a very fast and helpful response from Michelle,” he said. “I remember thinking that I would be ecstatic to work for an organization that had colleagues like Michelle.”
When the Authority posted a job opening on LinkedIn, he jumped at the opportunity to apply. And, as he said, the rest is history.
“One of the defining characteristics of Abe’s personality is the way he interacts with others,” said Assistant Executive Officer Norm Lefmann. “He treats everyone with dignity and respect, expressing his intellectual curiosity and drawing others out by asking insightful questions.”
Han is responsible for managing programs and resources that assist members in the areas of sidewalk maintenance, risk technician assignments, and law enforcement and fire manual and training updates. In recent years, he has been more involved in analyzing legislative action at the state level and informing members about key bills of interest by writing articles for the Authority’s monthly newsletter.
Abe also helps manage the ADA Financing Program, part of the Authority’s larger effort to help members make progress towards compliance with the ADA. The program provides members with the opportunity to obtain funding for ADA transition plan development or the removal of ADA-related barriers. Han manages the day-to-day administration of the program and makes sure the Authority is meeting member needs.
“Abe is the ultimate team player,” said Lefmann. “He is always looking for ways to do things better and to improve everything that we do.”
“The Authority treasures genuine relationships with people,” said Han. “My supervisor, Norm, and the executive management team encourage and empower me to express my opinions about what might be best for the Authority and our members. I realize that is an incredible level of trust, and that kind of support validates my ongoing belief that the Authority is a wonderful place to work.”
The Authority congratulates Abe on his five-year anniversary.Print Article
Intrigued by the idea of mitigating risk through education and training, the California JPIA’s Executive Committee President Margaret Finlay, a councilmember for the City of Duarte, applied for and was elected to a position on the Executive Committee in 1997, then elected vice president in 2012 and president in 2020.
“Margaret brings a grounded, pragmatic approach and practical experience to her many roles in public service,” said Chief Executive Officer Jon Shull. “During her more than 20 years as a member and leader of the Executive Committee, the Authority has advanced from largely claims management to innovative risk management.”
Finlay, who was appointed to fill the unexpired term of a City of Duarte councilmember in 1990, has served on the Duarte City Council for 30 years, including six terms as mayor. She also has been elected by her colleagues as president of the California Contract Cities Association and the Southern California Association of Governments and served on the boards of directors of the National League of Cities, League of California Cities, Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts, Los Angeles County Library Association, San Gabriel Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District, and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Liability Trust Fund Oversight Committee.
In addition to her public service as an elected official, Finlay has supported her community as president of both the Duarte Education Foundation and the Royal Oaks Parent Teacher Association and as a volunteer guide for the Tournament of Roses and a church youth leader.
Finlay holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a marketing focus from St. Mary’s College at the University of Notre Dame and a master’s degree in public administration from California State University, Long Beach, where she has taught as an adjunct professor. Finlay also is an alumna of the Senior Executives in State and Local Government Program at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and a member of the Phi Kappa Phi and Pi Alpha Alpha academic honor societies.
Finlay and her husband, Brad, have five children and 18 grandchildren.
Q: How does your experience add value for the Authority and its member agencies?
Because I have been affiliated with many different governmental agencies over the years, I have a good sense of what it takes in the decision-making process to understand the best resolution for a given scenario. There is a lot of common sense involved with making decisions regarding risk management; with the expertise and leadership of our excellent Authority staff, as well as input from elected officials throughout California, we are able to best serve our members in making responsible financial as well as ethical decisions.
Q: How would you describe the Authority to a fellow elected official?
I tell other elected officials all the time that the California JPIA is more than just a risk management pool. We are an organization that helps to reduce losses for members, but more importantly, we do this through education and information dissemination that permeates all facets of their agency. I compare the California JPIA to a fraternity or sorority at a massive university in that it allows the members to belong to a smaller organization, asking questions and receiving answers that help to minimize the enormity and complexity of government.
Q: What competitive advantages can the Authority offer to local government agencies?
We are successful because we are available: available to answer questions whenever they arise, available to offer the kind of training that is needed to minimize risk, available to help member agencies navigate the morass of legalities with which they are faced on a daily basis. This is a massive competitive advantage because there is the perception of disinterest exhibited by many governmental entities—and that is not the philosophy embraced at the Authority.
Q: Why are you proud to be affiliated with the California JPIA?
In my 30 years on the city council, I always have sought to work with organizations that I truly feel have made a difference in the lives of people. The California JPIA is at the top of the list. They have been concerned about the quality of life for citizens in their member cities and agencies. The Authority adds value to any member agency; that is a pretty high standard to achieve.
Q: How has the Authority grown and changed during your tenure?
The organization has not only grown in the quantity of members, but also increased the quality of education that is available to all of the members. And where the education is superior, the number and size of the claims will decrease.
Q: What challenges and new developments do you predict in the field of risk management?
I don’t anticipate the number of claims will go down in the future. I would suspect that the number will increase. But, because the California JPIA always keeps our members on the cutting edge of risk management, I am certain that we will continue to create, innovate, educate, and diversify, continuing our upward trajectory to excellence.Print Article
The California JPIA congratulates El Centro Councilmember Cheryl Viegas-Walker, elected to a one-year term as president of the statewide League of California Cities Board of Directors. The Board of Directors is responsible for the overall supervision, control, and direction of the League.
“The City of El Centro and cities throughout Imperial County are proud of Councilmember Viegas-Walker’s election as the 2020-2021 League President,” said El Centro City Manager Marcela Piedra. “Her knowledge and experience are commendable. Her concern for the needs of local government is admirable. She serves with integrity and passion. Our city is extremely proud of her and we are confident she will be a strong advocate for our cities.”
Councilmember Viegas-Walker, who is past president of both the League’s Women’s Caucus and the Southern California Association of Governments, has served on the El Centro City Council since 1997, including five terms as mayor. She has represented the Imperial County Division on the League’s Board of Directors since 2015. Regionally, Viegas-Walker represents El Centro on the Imperial County Transportation Commission, Imperial County Local Transportation Authority, and the Service Authority for Freeway Emergencies. She also serves as a member of the El Centro Regional Medical Center Board of Trustees.
Councilmember Viegas-Walker contributes to El Centro’s culture of risk management, Piedra said, by encouraging staff to constantly evaluate practices, policies, and procedures to minimize exposure and, when claims occur, to assess the incidents and apply lessons learned to improve future actions.
“As local government officials, whether elected or appointed, we have a responsibility to ensure the safety and well-being of our personnel and the public we serve,” said Piedra. “We thank the California JPIA for providing many valuable resources to us. The staff is great, and the training is invaluable.”
“City of El Centro officials and staff have a good understanding of how following best risk management practices can protect valuable agency resources,” said Senior Risk Manager Alex Mellor. “I am excited that Councilmember Viegas-Walker will bring this knowledge to her role as League of California Cities President and congratulate her on the election.”Print Article
The City of Duarte, 20 miles northeast of Los Angeles along historic U.S. Route 66, prides itself on a Parks and Recreation Department that provides healthy and wholesome programming for its approximately 21,000 residents. With COVID-19 disrupting normal operations, city staff have continued to serve the community by adapting popular events—including the time-honored Halloween Howl—to accommodate new restrictions.
“We are the entertainment of the city,” said Duarte Parks and Recreation Director Manuel Enriquez. “In the current climate, we take that responsibility very seriously, not only in terms of safety, but also in terms of maintaining normalcy for our residents: especially our young people.”
Duarte traditionally holds the Halloween Howl at Royal Oaks Park, a 5.5-acre facility with ample space for a family-friendly fun zone, costume parade, live entertainment, and stationary games, as well as tricks and treats.
This year, the carnival atmosphere was recreated in a drive-thru format at the civic center, which houses city hall, the community, fitness, and senior centers, and the Duarte Unified School District Office. The new event venue allowed for simple entry and exit and encouraged residents to remain in their vehicles while parading through trick-or-treat stations along a one-way circuit festooned with seasonal decorations. Activities were supplemented by a best-decorated vehicle competition and dancing holiday characters, as well as virtual pumpkin carving and “howl-o-ween” pet costume contests.
Planning for the event was driven in part by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health’s Guidelines for Celebrating Halloween and Dia de los Muertos. The guidelines endorsed events during which guests remain in their vehicles, including drive-by costume and decoration contests, drive-through Halloween displays, and drive-in trick-or-treating.
“We rely on expert guidance, including California JPIA resources, to make events safe while upholding traditions,” said Enriquez. “Reviewing public health recommendations was an integral part of identifying and solidifying our final plans.”
“The City of Duarte operates under an enterprise risk management framework and encourages employees at all levels and within all departments to manage risk,” said Senior Risk Manager Maria Galvan. “By having a risk-aware culture and conducting proactive risk assessments, the city has continued to provide safe and enriching programs to its residents during these challenging times.”
In addition to the Halloween festivities, the Duarte parks and recreation team has launched a virtual recreation center that offers free and low-cost programming for residents and implemented daily check ins and drive-through lunch options for seniors.
“I applaud my staff for taking the initiative to develop new content and to package it nicely,” said Enriquez. “We take our time and roll out new programs only when we are ready to ensure that we can keep our residents safe. We’re all in this together. We need to be mindful and respectful of one another.”
This genuine concern for public wellness and sage approach to risk management comes from the top down, with leadership from Duarte Councilmember Margaret Finlay, who currently serves as president of the California JPIA’s Executive Board.
“Councilmember Finlay’s service on the Executive Board of the California JPIA positively affects everything that we do in the City of Duarte,” said Enriquez. “She advocates to her peers, shares knowledge, and connects staff with training, webinars, and e-learning resources. It’s a benefit that positions Duarte to meet our risk and liability responsibilities. We’re very fortunate.”Print Article
Throughout the year, members’ facilities, including community centers, are popular locations by external parties for use such as celebrations, art festivals, recreational activities, meetings, and other events. If someone from the external party gets injured on the premises, the member can be held liable as the property owner. Potential liability can be minimized through a facility use agreement (FUA).
Such an agreement should be used each time a third party uses a member’s facilities, and outlines responsibilities, conditions, and rules for use of the facility. Most important, the FUA should include indemnity language that runs in favor of the member by requiring the facility user to release the member from liability for injuries to any person(s), or damage to property arising at any time during, or in any way connected with, the use or occupancy of the facility and adjoining property.
Additionally, the FUA should include indemnity language that releases the member from liability for communicable diseases, illnesses, or viruses, and requires the renter to abide by all local, state, and federal health, and any other applicable ordinances that may be in effect at the time of the rental.
However, without insurance, there is no guarantee that the facility user will be able to financially meet the indemnity obligations outlined in the agreement. This means that the insurance requirements should not be waived under any circumstance. Otherwise, the renter may be unable to meet its financial obligations, therefore providing an opportunity for the injured party to pursue damages against the member. The Authority also recommends consistency in FUA insurance requirements, to ensure that members do not encounter allegations of preferential treatment of certain groups over the other.
When considering the insurance requirements, a risk analysis should be conducted to determine appropriate coverage and limits. General liability insurance should always be required. At a minimum, limits of $1 million per occurrence/$2 million general aggregate is recommended, including endorsing the member to the policy as an additional insured. Based on the risks associated with the facility rental, higher general liability limits or additional insurance coverage may be needed, such as sexual abuse/molestation coverage if minors are in attendance. When verifying the user’s coverage, a member must obtain an evidence of insurance and additional insured endorsement prior to the facility rental date, otherwise the member is exposing itself to liability for the facility rental’s activities.
Members should always ensure that written agreements are in place for any facility uses, and that agreements do not lapse. Handshake or verbal agreements will not hold up in court, and disagreements over responsibility and coverage can erode previously long-standing relationships.
Members are advised to consult with legal counsel when drafting/revising their agency’s FUA. A facility use agreement template and the Authority’s Contractual Risk Transfer Manual are available to members on the Authority’s website cjpia.org. The Contractual Risk Transfer Manual includes a risk analysis questionnaire, recommended insurance coverage and limits, indemnity language, and techniques for allocating risk using risk transfer principles. Members are encouraged to consult with their assigned Risk Manager.
Additionally, the Alliant Special Events Program is available for members to use and assist facility users with purchasing required insurance. Members administer the program, accept funds, and issue certificates of insurance online with Alliant Insurance Services. There is no deductible, and the member is added as an additional insured, if entered on the certificate. Because it is automatic, members do not need to obtain an additional insured endorsement. Liability limits are purchased in $1,000,000 per occurrence increments. Medical payments are also available with limits of $5,000, with the option to purchase $5,000 in additional limits.
For questions and additional details on the special events program, please contact Penny Dewitt-Holdren at (949) 660-8142 or firstname.lastname@example.org.Print Article
Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the legislative landscape has been a very active one during 2020. Over the past few months, the Authority’s staff and business partners have highlighted several different bills that are of significant interest from a liability or workers’ compensation perspective.
In an effort to highlight many of those bills of interest in one place, this legislative update serves to briefly summarize particular bills that our staff thinks may have the biggest impact on your agency. Each summary will include a link to a deeper dive and analysis of the bill’s implications, as provided in previous articles.
AB 685 imposes new reporting requirements and expands Cal/OSHA’s authority regarding COVID-19. The bill focuses on an employer’s responsibility on how to respond once a notice of potential exposure to COVID-19 is received. There are specific steps that employers must take in that response. Details on what those steps entail, as well as additional resources, can be found in this article.
AB 685 goes into effect on January 1, 2021, though the requirement to notify local health departments is currently in effect.
AB 992 clarifies the interaction between social media and the Brown Act, and which kinds of social media communications and interactions are allowed (or not allowed). Officials subject to the Brown Act are allowed to communicate with members of the public on social media, but they should not directly respond or react to anything posted or shared on social media regarding agency business by another member of the same legislative body. A more detailed overview from a legal perspective can be found in this article.
AB 992 goes into effect on January 1, 2021.
AB 1286 impacts how shared mobility service providers (e.g., Lime, Bird, etc.) can operate within a local jurisdiction. Further, the bill imposes certain requirements on cities and counties to adopt certain rules when those shared mobility service providers operate within the jurisdiction. The bill also requires certain insurance coverage with minimum limits.
AB 1286 goes into effect beginning January 1, 2021. However, certain provisions may extend the requirement to January 1, 2022, depending on the circumstances. A more detailed overview from a legal perspective can be found in this article.
SB 1003 extends immunity to local governments which operate skateboard parks. Now along with skateboards, the bill extends local government immunity at local skate parks for other recreational devices such as bicycles, scooters, and wheelchairs. It is important to note that certain conditions must still be met in order for hazardous recreational activity immunity to apply within a skateboard park. The SB 1003 text should be thoroughly reviewed to determine all conditions that must be met in order to uphold the hazardous recreational activity immunity.
Since SB 1003 was passed as an urgency measure, it went into effect immediately.
SB 1159 creates a rebuttable presumption for COVID-19 that covers a wide range of employees, including the following:
- Peace officers
- Emergency medical technicians
- Fire and rescue service coordinators
- Registered nurses
- Home health agency employees who provide “direct patient care”
- Certain health facility employees
- In-home supportive service employees providing care outside of their own home
The presumption applies from July 6, 2020 through January 1, 2023. This article discusses the specifics of issues such as how long an employer has to investigate a claim that is eligible for this presumption, what type of testing must be performed, how workers’ compensation benefits interact, and other additional employer responsibilities as a result of SB 1159.
Since SB 1159 was passed as an urgency measure, it went into effect immediately.
The Authority will continue to track various bills, especially as the 2021-22 Regular Session is scheduled to convene on December 7, 2020.Print Article