Issue 119 - January 2022
The California JPIA is excited to announce that we are resuming the scheduling of in-person classroom training courses effective immediately. This includes many of our Cal/OSHA regulatory compliance trainings that were previously made available as virtual Zoom-based trainings during 2021.
These trainings include:
- Hearing Conservation and Audiometric Testing
- Aerial Lift Operator Training
- Forklift Operator Safety Certification
- Traffic Control and Flagging Safety
- Confined Space Entry
- Respirator Certification and Fit Testing
Many more in-person trainings are also available. If you would like to schedule any of our in-person or virtual trainings, which are live trainings with an instructor held online over Zoom, please contact our training staff at email@example.com.Print Article
Originally published on January 11, 2022. Reprinted with permission from Burke, Williams & Sorensen, LLP.
Generally, cities may object to Public Records Act requests if they are overbroad and thus “unduly burdensome.” (See Cal. First Amend. Coalition v. Superior Court (1998) 67 Cal.App.4th 159, 166.) However, a recent case (Getz v. County of El Dorado – Case No. C091337) cautions against using this type of “unduly burdensome” objection to justify denial or a refusal to disclose records and is a good reminder to carefully consider how an agency responds to a request for a voluminous amount of documents.
The case involved a request seeking approximately 47,000 of pages of responsive documents. The requester wanted records between the El Dorado County (“County”) and a developer that built and managed the homes that was part of his homeowners’ association. The requester initially requested “all development plans, proposals, reports and applicable correspondence” which included emails between the County and the developer. Although the County produced a number of records, the requester believed there were more documents that were not produced. As a result, the requester made a further request for records that included all emails sent from January 2013 and August 1, 2018, between any email address from four domain names associated with the developer and any County employee, regardless of their content.
The County made an “unduly burdensome” objection and worked with the requester to prepare an index of electronic records from which the requester could select which documents he sought through the request. Instead of selecting specific records to be produced from that index after the initial review, the requester simply asked for all records identified in the index to be produced, claiming that there was no undue burden because the County had already located (but had not yet reviewed) the potentially responsive records. The County did not respond to this further request, presumably because the requester did not further narrow down the response as requested by the County.
The requester sued. The trial court ruled in favor of the County finding that the request was overly broad and unduly burdensome and that the County had indeed fulfilled its obligations under the Public Records Act.
On appeal, the County made several arguments, which were all rejected by the appellate court.
The first County argument, that the request was not focused or specific, failed because the request “did not require interpretation to determine responsiveness,” and noting that the request identified emails from specific email addresses.
The second County argument, that the request was “overbroad and unduly burdensome,” failed for several reasons. The County argued that it would take an extraordinary amount of time to review the records for potentially applicable exemptions under the CPRA, including emails exempt because of a common interest between the County and the developer in separate litigation. However, the Court noted that the County already located and indexed approximately 47,000 emails based upon the requester’s identification of the dates and domain names associated with the records. Further, the County did not provide sufficient evidence that reviewing the 47,000 emails for potential draft or evidentiary privilege exemptions was unduly burdensome and the Court found that the County did not sufficiently support why it needed to review the emails to determine if exemptions applied. Although the County had asserted the exemption for draft documents under Government Code 6254(a), the Court found that the County did not submit sufficient evidence that draft emails were actually retained or why the public interest requires such draft emails be withheld, in accordance with Government Code section 6254(a). The County also asserted the exemption for privileges under Government Code 6254(k). The Court also rejected the application of this exemption finding that the County failed to support why the County needed to review the emails for the attorney-client privilege, since all four types of email domain names were to third parties (thus waiving any attorney-client privilege). The County also did not support why it needed to review the emails for the potentially applicable common-interest privilege, because only one of the four types of email domain names may be subject to that exemption and the County could have easily segregated those emails for review. As a result, the public interest in avoiding this type of burden to the County did not supersede the public interest in potential improper cooperation between the County and the developer.
Lastly, the third County argument, that the request sought items that were not public records based upon the domain names of non-county entities, failed because the County was the recipient of such emails and as such the Court determined that the emails likely involved public business.
- It continues to be difficult to use “undue burden” to justify denial or a refusal to disclose records and courts will scrutinize refusals to disclose records based upon a claim of “undue burden” and weigh it carefully against the public interest in transparency.
- Courts will require substantial evidence of what the undue burden is and may not accept the time and expense to review potentially responsive records, alone, to justify non-disclosure. In other words, 47,000 potentially responsive emails might not be enough, especially when such potentially responsive emails may be segregated and reviewed for different exemptions.
- Courts will scrutinize public agency efforts to narrow down a request to determine if such efforts indirectly impose additional criterion to the request.
- Creating an index of electronic documents may undercut an argument that locating such records are unduly burdensome.
- Public agencies may want to consider ways in which the agency maintains its records to determine if there are methods that could be utilized to simplify the review of records in response to a public record request. The Court of Appeals recommended segregating exempt records from non-exempt records (e.g., all attorney-client privileged communication is kept in a separate folder), which may help to streamline the review and production of documents responsive to public record requests.
Exercising its core value of teamwork, the California JPIA remains committed to upholding relationships with its members and similarly minded organizations that support municipal agencies in California. The Authority leverages these connections to forge partnerships, address priority issues, and discuss risk management best practices with Authority members, prospective members, and business partners that share the Authority’s passion for local government.
“The California JPIA is composed of not only informed risk management professionals, but also local government advocates with an authentic interest in collaborating with public agencies,” said Chief Executive Officer Jon Shull. “The Authority’s commitment to supporting local government throughout California sets us apart from other risk management resources.”
Sponsorships also provide an opportunity for the California JPIA to support the professional development of, and learn alongside, member agency staff.
Organizations for which the Authority has renewed its sponsorship this year include the California Contract Cities Association, which advances the benefits of the contracting model and strengthens local control and governance, and the League of California Cities, which collaborates with city officials to enhance knowledge and combine resources to influence policy decisions, as well as the Municipal Management Association of Southern California and the Municipal Management Association of Northern California, both of which support professional development for local government leaders.
A new partner for the 2021-22 fiscal year is the University of Southern California Sol Price School of Public Policy’s Executive Education Forum for Local Elected Leaders (EXED Forum). As a sponsor of the EXED Forum, the Authority has gained access to a network of program participants, faculty, and other policy experts and thought leaders, as well as timely and relevant educational opportunities and outreach programming. The Authority also will educate local elected leaders through articles in the Leaders Forum newsletter.
“The California JPIA is a critical organization for the local elected community that we serve here at USC Price,” said Rolling Hills Estates Mayor Frank V. Zerunyan, J.D. LL.D., professor of the practice of governance and director of executive education. “We are honored to count the Authority among our sponsors and look forward to our collaboration.”
“The California JPIA is proud to provide learning opportunities for municipal managers and elected officials at all levels,” said Shull. “By supporting advocacy and professional organizations, the Authority is investing in the education and enrichment of decision-makers and helping develop well-informed leaders who support a healthy risk management culture in their organization.”Print Article
Helping others during the holiday season can provide hope for both those in need and those who share their time and treasure. In December 2021, the California JPIA staff again invoked a seasonal spirit of giving with a food drive for the Orangewood Foundation, an organization supporting youth in Orange County.
“Service and civic responsibility are a key part of the Authority staff’s culture,” said Management Analyst Courtney Morrison, who led the winter service project along with Administrative Assistant Lyndsie Buskirk and Maintenance Worker Chris Yanonis. “Supporting community organizations such as the Orangewood Foundation is a tradition that reinforces our team’s collaborative relationships.”
The Orangewood Foundation annually helps almost 2,000 foster and community youth prepare for independent adulthood by providing groceries and hot meals, transitional housing, life skills workshops, and employment leads.
Although historically the California JPIA’s staff service projects have involved in-person interaction to communicate news and coordinate logistics, this year, most outreach and organization took place online in deference to COVID-19 safety protocols.
Morrison and Buskirk rallied their colleagues to collect donations that would stock the Orangewood Foundation’s pantry shelves. Executive Committee members and other guests also contributed to the group effort while on campus for the December Executive Committee meeting.
At the culmination of the project, Morrison and Buskirk delivered personal care items and non-perishable food such as canned goods, peanut butter, cereal, and instant soup to the Orangewood Foundation. The California JPIA’s donation will be distributed throughout the year at the Foundation’s on-site resource center and Samueli Academy charter high school.
“I am proud that the Authority’s staff supported an organization that helps prepare community youth to be self-sufficient and to achieve their greatest potential,” said Chief Executive Officer Jon Shull.
Visit the Orangewood Foundation website to learn more about the services they provide.Print Article
On December 4, 2021, the City of Lake Forest celebrated its 30th Anniversary with live entertainment, family activities, a tree lighting ceremony, and more. When forming the city, founders envisioned a town full of families and tight-knit communities. The 30th anniversary festivities certainly reflected this vision! When founded, the City of Lake Forest merged the areas of Foothill Ranch and El Toro and was officially incorporated as Orange County’s 31st city on December 20, 1991.
Today, Lake Forest is known for having small town community charm with the convenience of a large metropolitan city. The past three decades have seen the city grow with new development including the Etnies Skatepark, which is the largest public skatepark in the nation, as well as the Lake Forest Sports Park, which opened to the public in 2014. The city’s crowning achievement came in December 2019 with the completion of the Civic Center’s $80 million build project, which was awarded the Los Angeles American Society of Civil Engineers Architectural Engineering Project of the Year in 2020.
Moving forward, Lake Forest is focused on maintaining its beauty and providing public services to improve the quality of life for residents. Congratulations to Lake Forest for being a great place to live, work, and play for the last 30 years!Print Article
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and Cal/OSHA require employers to use Cal/OSHA Form 300 to classify work-related injuries and illnesses and to note the extent and severity of each case. The summary form, Cal/OSHA Form 300A, shows the totals for the year in each category. Cal/OSHA requires Form 300A to be posted between February 1 and April 30, 2022. Form 300A provides a summary of the total number of job-related injuries and illnesses that occurred in 2021 and were logged on Cal/OSHA Form 300. The form must be posted in a location where employee notices are usually found, and must not be altered, defaced, or obscured during the posting period. A copy of Form 300A must also be made available to employees who do not report to any fixed establishment on a regular basis. At the end of the three-month posting period, the Form 300A should be kept on file for five years. If any newly discovered, recordable incidents or changes in classification are noted, the log should be updated.
Employers must record any new work-related injury or illness if it results in days away from work, restricted work or transfer to another job, medical treatment beyond first aid, loss of consciousness, significant injury or illness as diagnosed by a physician or other licensed healthcare professional, or death. Employers must record any incidents that aggravate a prior injury. Employers are also required to log COVID-19 related illnesses on the form. Cal/OSHA has published a Brief Guide to Recordkeeping Requirements.
OSHA has strict requirements for protecting the privacy of injured and ill employees. An employer shall not record the employee’s name on the OSHA 300 log for certain “privacy concern cases”. Instead, “Privacy Case” shall be entered in the space reserved for the employee’s name. OSHA defines a privacy concern case as an injury or illness to an intimate body part or the reproductive system; an injury or illness resulting from a sexual assault; mental illnesses; HIV infection, hepatitis or tuberculosis; needle stick injuries and cuts from sharp objects that are contaminated with another person’s blood or other potentially infectious material; and other illnesses if the employee voluntarily requests that his or her name not be entered on the log. The Authority is recommending that all cases reference “Privacy Case” in the employee name fields, not just in privacy concern cases as defined by OSHA.
Members who participate in the Authority’s Workers’ Compensation Program will receive an email from Sedgwick with a partially completed Form 300A with instructions for completing and posting the form. Members should follow the instructions and post a copy of the completed form by February 1, 2022. Forms 300 and 300A can also be obtained from the Cal/OSHA website.
For more information, please contact your assigned Risk Manager.Print Article
During the 2021 Annual Meeting of the Board of Directors at the California JPIA’s 26th Annual Risk Management Educational Forum, Chief Executive Officer Jon Shull reported on the Authority’s strategic initiative to be a thought leader in local government and risk management. Encapsulating achievements in public relations, he described an enhanced social media presence, with Facebook and LinkedIn engagements increasing year over year by 26 percent and 36 percent, respectively, as well as exceptional open and click-through rates for The Authority e-newsletter.
“Effective communication is a fundamental element of public service,” said Shull. “By growing the Authority’s reputation, we increase our ability to steward best practices in risk management among not only our members but also municipal staff and elected officials throughout California.”
Building on this positive trend, the California JPIA welcomes its inaugural communications director, Olga Berdial, who joins the Authority from the City of Chula Vista.
A marketing expert whose experience extends from media buying, branding, and social media to public outreach, trade shows, and special events, Berdial has worked in both the public and private sectors. As a special events coordinator for Chula Vista, she supported marketing campaigns including “THIS is Chula” and “We built THIS.” As a media marketing specialist for Provide Commerce, she created and executed marketing plans for both print and digital media channels. She previously worked for publisher Elsevier Public Safety, where she organized conferences, exhibited at trade shows, and developed content for marketing magazines and newsletters.
At the California JPIA, Berdial will leverage her skills in brand management and storytelling to create and implement a strategic marketing plan that will position the organization as, she said, “the preeminent risk management authority.”
Berdial was drawn to the new role at the California JPIA by the opportunity to affect change.
“Part of what I love about working in the public sector is making a difference in a community,” she said. “Working for the California Joint Powers Insurance Authority amplifies that impact. The California JPIA helps cities mitigate risk and reduce liability. If there are less claims, cities can provide more services to their residents as well as a better quality of life. It’s a win-win.”
Working closely with colleagues and member agencies, Berdial will help communicate the resources that the California JPIA provides while showcasing the Authority as a leader in the municipal risk management space.
“The Authority already holds a leadership position among municipal risk management pools,” said Shull. “Olga will help reinforce and build on that position.”
Berdial holds a B.S. in journalism from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo and an M.B.A. from the University of San Diego. She also is an alumna of the Public Management Academy at The Centre for Organization Effectiveness, a San Diego-based joint powers authority that offers training and coaching services to public-sector employees.
“I’d love to meet staff from each of our member agencies to better understand their needs and perspectives,” said Berdial.
Welcome to the Authority, Olga!Print Article
The California JPIA congratulates three staff members who celebrated milestone, five-year anniversaries in 2021: Training and Loss Control Specialist Ryan Thomas, Accounting Specialist Habib Ali, and Office Assistant Maria Daniels.
“Ryan, Habib, and Maria are truly dedicated to our members and their success,” said Chief Executive Officer Jon Shull. “Their knowledge and experience have helped establish the Authority as a leader in the insurance pooling industry.”
Thomas, whose extensive experience in local government includes service in the cities of Costa Mesa, Bellflower, and Paramount, celebrated his five-year anniversary with the Authority in January 2021. He excels in curriculum development, learning, and training. The integration of new, virtual learning environments over the past two years has extended his expertise in broadcast technology, including Zoom and ON24, the Authority’s primary meeting, webcasting, and virtual event platforms.
“Through his team attitude and strong interest in working with others across the organization, Ryan has built valuable relationships,” said Assistant Executive Officer Norm Lefmann, who retired in December 2021. “His acumen for identifying solutions for unique training needs has a direct impact on our members.”
Ali celebrated his five-year anniversary with the Authority in October 2021. He is responsible for processing accounts payable, reconciling invoices, and providing technical and clerical assistance to the finance staff—all in support of the California JPIA’s members.
“Every individual on our staff has the same goal: to help our members,” said Ali. “At the end of the day, regardless of role or department, that common goal ties us together.”
“Habib shines the most when it comes to helping staff and members,” said Deputy Executive Officer Alex Smith. “His friendliness and sincerity always leave an impression, and he’s well known for having a positive disposition and providing service with a smile.”
Daniels commemorated five years of providing administrative support to training operations for the Authority in November 2021. When staffing the training department’s help desk, she approaches each call as an opportunity to share as much information as possible, anticipating the member’s next steps and future needs before hanging up.
“Maria leverages her incredible customer service skills to collaborate with our members and resolve issues,” said Shull. “By listening with authentic empathy—and, when appropriate, exercising her sense of humor—she builds strong, lasting relationships with both her colleagues and our members.”
The California JPIA’s Executive Committee recognized Thomas, Ali, and Daniels with special service awards during its meeting on December 15, 2021.
“The Executive Committee and Board of Directors are grateful for the dedication and commitment of our employees,” said Executive Committee President Margaret Finlay. “Surely their experience will continue to keep us at the top of our industry. Congratulations to all of them for a job well done.”
Congratulations, Ryan, Habib, and Maria, and thank you for your continued hard work!Print Article