Issue 121 – March 2022
The nomination period is open for the 9th Annual California JPIA Capstone Award. The award is presented annually at the Authority’s Risk Management Educational Forum to an individual who best exemplifies the practice of risk management among the Authority membership. Submissions will be accepted through June 3, 2022.
We encourage you to tell us who should be considered for the Capstone Award by clicking here to complete a brief nomination form. The success of the Capstone Award depends on you and others to identify a colleague who works tirelessly behind the scenes to promote excellence in risk management.
An individual nominated for the Capstone Award could be a person who is working at any level within a member agency, and ideally would be someone who:
- Works to support traditional or enterprise risk management efforts for the member agency.
- Develops, implements, and administers loss prevention and loss control programs to mitigate risk exposures for the member agency.
- Coordinates support systems that serve the member’s risk management goals and needs.
- Influences others in developing quality risk management programs for the member agency.
At last year’s Risk Management Educational Forum, Arabo Parseghian from the City of La Cañada Flintridge was presented with the Capstone Award. Parseghian, the City of La Cañada Flintridge’s Division Manager, was selected from four finalists and chosen for his exemplary risk management efforts. Some of Parseghian’s accomplishments include the coordination of the city’s Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) self-evaluation and transition plan, developing an innovative ADA app that allowed the city to inventory curb ramps in real time, regularly evaluating the city’s emergency preparedness programs and plans, and providing advice and guidance to the city on matters involving information technology and cybersecurity. Additionally, Parseghian is often recognized for being a strong proponent of effective risk management at the city.
All finalists will be recognized at this year’s Forum on October 5–7, 2022, at the Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort. For questions about the Capstone Award, please contact Habib Ali by email or at (562) 467-8726.Print Article
Under California law, all employees are required to receive workplace harassment prevention training. Further, the law breaks down the audience for this training into three distinct groups: supervisors, employees who don’t supervise, and local agency officials (compensated elected or appointed officials, which may include board members, council members, or commissioners). This training needs to be completed every two years for all audiences. To assist with meeting this requirement, the Authority has several available options: live classroom training, taking place in person or virtually over Zoom, and online, self-paced training.
Online training is becoming increasingly popular with Authority members. Over the past year, more than 3,300 member employees and local agency officials completed online workplace harassment prevention training with the Authority.
The California JPIA has developed its own online training, found on the training website, myJPIA, which effectively replaces some existing online harassment prevention content. Members should transition to scheduling the new courses as some of the previous courses in the workplace harassment prevention series will be retired and no longer available after December 31, 2022.
The new online workplace harassment trainings are titled:
- Workplace Harassment Prevention for Supervisors,
- Workplace Harassment Prevention for Non-Supervisors,
- and Workplace Harassment Prevention for Local Agency Officials.
Online courses to be retired on 12/31/22 are:
- 8 Keys to a Respectful Workplace
- and Sexual Harassment, California Edition.
For further information about these new online trainings, or how to access them, please contact the Authority’s training team.Print Article
California JPIA staff members were once again at the forefront of risk management trends, sharing knowledge and best practices with municipal staff and industry peers at two important conferences: the 2022 California Society of Municipal Finance Officers (CSMFO) Conference, “Discover CSMFO: Exploring our Financial Future,” and the Public Agency Risk Management Association (PARMA) 48th Conference and Expo, “The Carnivàle of Risk”.
CSMFO promotes excellence in financial management through innovation, continuing education, and professional development. The CSMFO Annual Conference, in San Diego, February 16–18, featured educational and motivational sessions, as well as networking events and an exhibit hall.
In their presentation, “Cyber Security – A Growing Risk: What You Should Know and Do,” California JPIA Finance Director Jason McBride, and Baker Hostetler Partner Scott Koller, whose practice focuses on data breach response and security compliance issues, discussed how the rapid expansion of cyber security risks—including malware, ransomware, password theft, phishing, inadvertent disclosure, and other threats—has driven change in the cyber liability insurance market. Leveraging Koller’s extensive experience in managing risks associated with data and information technology, the session challenged attendees to rethink how to protect their agencies and their systems, and what to do if their agency is the victim of an attack.
California JPIA team members were featured in several sessions at the PARMA Conference, in Anaheim, February 27–March 2. Authority session topics encompassed a wide variety of topics, including the following presentations:
- California JPIA Insurance Programs Manager Jim Thyden, along with other industry experts, presented “Evolution of Risk Management,” a leadership-level session that reviewed how the last two years have proved challenging for public entity risk managers, including the pandemic, civil unrest, and the continued impact of climate change and social inflation. Thyden discussed how risk management priorities have changed, what new risks have emerged, how the insurance marketplace is responding, and what public agencies should be concerned about for the future.
- As part of a panel presentation titled “The Mountainous Expedition of Presumption Injuries,” California JPIA Workers’ Compensation Program Manager Jeff Rush discussed the evolution of presumptive injuries: from how, in the late 1970s, the phrase “rebuttable presumption” became synonymous with workers’ compensation and specific employee classifications, and how, since then, statutes have expanded the benefits afforded and new presumptions have been added, such as PTSD and COVID.
- California JPIA Liability Program Manager Paul Zeglovitch, along with Carl Warren Liability Pool Claims Manager Chris Kustra, and Collins + Collins LLP Partner Michael Wroniak, presented “Liability Claim Reserving and Case Evaluation,” where they shared their expertise about the various means by which third party administrators and claims managers properly set reserves on liability claims and lawsuits, as well as the effect that has on finance departments, pools, and insurers. They also explained the factors that affect the valuation of claims and cases, in both litigated and non-litigated environments, and they described the most efficient way to resolve them.
- Occupational injuries continue to cause increasing costs for employers and employees in the government sector. In “How Effective Leaders Enhance Worker Safety in the Public Sector,” California JPIA Senior Risk Manager Tim Karcz, and Pismo Beach Assistant City Manager Jorge Garcia, discussed how certain leadership styles can influence occupational safety performance among employees in the public sector. They also shared insight as to how an organization’s function, objectives, employee needs, and executive management impact which leadership style is most effective.
- In “Keeping it Real: Loss Adjusting Practices and Insights,” California JPIA Senior Risk Manager Melaina Francis provided actionable insights for public agencies to use so they may develop a game plan that can be launched directly after a property loss. Francis also discussed the importance of creating a loss adjusting team so that agencies can mitigate damages and restore operations as quickly as possible after a loss.
PARMA, is an association dedicated to the professional development of California public agency risk managers and other municipal staff who support risk management in their organizations. It is guided by a cadre of volunteer leaders, including four California JPIA staff members: Workers’ Compensation Program Manager Jeff Rush, who serves as vice president; Liability Program Manager Paul Zeglovitch, who is a director; Insurance Programs Manager Jim Thyden, who is a past-president and member; and Senior Risk Manager Alex Mellor, who, along with Jim, serve as members of the conference planning committee.
“California JPIA staff members are dedicated to risk management, and their dedication shines through their leadership of organizations that support enrichment and professional development for public agency employees,” said Chief Executive Officer Jon Shull. “Our staff’s engagement on this level reinforces the Authority’s role as the preeminent municipal risk management leader in California.”
Although we are in the earlier stages of the 2022 state legislative calendar, there are already bills worth watching that may affect members. As bills are subject to major amendments and changes as they go through the legislature, each of the bills below has been assigned a “watch” status. The Authority will provide a more definitive position for each bill in future articles as the details and text for each becomes finalized.
AB 334 (Mullin). Workers’ compensation: skin cancer.
This bill seeks to extend presumptions of skin cancer during employment to select peace officers within the Department of Fish and Wildlife, as well as the Department of Parks and Recreation. This presumption currently includes only active lifeguards. The potential concern with this bill is that although this bill specifically references certain positions within California state departments (i.e., the Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Department of Parks and Recreation), it could set a precedent that results in covering positions or conditions that might not be suitable.
AB 988 (Bauer-Kahan). Mental health: 988 crisis hotline.
This bill seeks to require 988 centers by July 16, 2022, although that date is projected to get pushed back since this bill has not been revisited since it was last discussed in June 2021. The purpose of a 988 center is to provide a hotline for an individual going through a mental health crisis with a trained counselor who can appropriately respond with the needed help. The bill specifically states that these 988 centers would provide help in the form of “immediate suicidal or behavioral health crisis intervention in a timely manner.” There are additional provisions and milestones that are built into the bill and which aim to provide a more systematic plan for supporting people who need mental health assistance. The Authority supports this bill in the form it was reviewed last year.
AB 1017 (Quirk-Silva). Public restrooms: Right to Restrooms Act of 2021.
This bill seeks to require local government agencies to conduct an inventory of their public restrooms. That information would be reported to the California Department of Public Health. That inventory would then need to made available to organizations that work with homeless populations, as well as the local government agency’s website. Although the bill has good intentions in serving the homeless populations, the Authority holds a tentative opposed position until the bill’s details are further clarified.
AB 1041 (Wicks). Employment: leave.
This bill seeks to expand the California Family Rights Act to include a “designated person” as a covered individual under the Act. The bill defines a “designated person” to mean “a person identified by the employee at the time the employee requests family care and medical leave.” Although the bill’s amendments include a provision for an employer to “limit an employee to one designated person per 12-month period,” the interpretation of a “designated person” is very broad and left at the discretion of an employee. This is a noticeable contrast to the California Family Rights Act’s other qualified individuals which have more clearly defined status (e.g., child, parents, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, spouse, etc.). The Authority holds a tentative opposed position until the bill’s details are clarified.
AB 2188 (Quirk). Discrimination in employment: use of cannabis.
This bill seeks to amend the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, and in turn, “make it unlawful for an employer to discriminate against a person” based on an individual’s cannabis use outside of employment and “away from the workplace.” This bill makes a distinction between tetrahydrocannabinol (more commonly known as “THC”) and its “nonpsychoactive” form. The bill is relatively new (it was read for the first time in February of this year), so the Authority holds a tentative “watch” position until further developments emerge.
SB 284 (Stern). Workers’ compensation: firefighters and peace officers: post-traumatic stress.
This bill seeks to expand the post-traumatic stress presumption under existing law to make it apply to “active firefighting members” of various state departments (e.g., State Department of State Hospitals, State Department of Developmental Services, Department of Veterans Affairs, etc.) and to “public safety dispatchers, public safety telecommunicators, and emergency response communication employees.” The bill has not been acted upon since August 2021, but the Authority holds a tentative opposed position due to the potential implications by expanding the PTSD presumption. Although well-meaning, expanding presumptions without clear definition and intent can have the potential to present extremely difficult changes to employers.
SB 335 (Cortese). Workers’ compensation: liability.
This bill seeks to reduce the time for employers to rebut liability for employee injuries from 90 days to 45 days. “Certain injuries or illnesses, including hernia, heart trouble, pneumonia, or tuberculosis, among others, sustained in the course of employment” would reduce the time to 30 days. The potential concern with this bill is that it gives employers a significantly less amount of time to conduct their own investigation and verification of injuries and illnesses that occur during the course of employment. When this bill was last reviewed in 2021, the Authority felt that a tentative opposed position was appropriate given the time and resource strain this could potentially have on local government agencies (and, employers in general).
SB 1127 (Atkins). Workers’ compensation: liability presumptions.
This bill has similarities to SB 335 (Cortese) in that it revolves around the topic of reducing an employer’s time to rebut an injury presumption. In fact, SB 1127 could potentially be seen as a refresh of SB 335, since SB 1127 was newly introduced in February of this year (whereas SB 335 has not been revived and touched since last year). This bill seeks to reduce the employer’s time to rebut an injury presumption from 90 days to 60 days. “Certain injuries or illnesses, including hernia, heart trouble, pneumonia, or tuberculosis, among others, sustained in the course of employment” would reduce the time to 30 days. As with SB 335 the potential concern with this bill is the significant reduction in time for employers to conduct their own investigation and verification of potential employment-related injuries and illnesses. Given the potential time, resource, and administrative strain on local government agencies, the Authority holds a tentative opposed position on this bill.
The Authority will continue to monitor the above bills, as well as other bills that may affect members from a risk management perspective.Print Article
One of the California JPIA’s newest members, the City of Lemon Grove, is a community of more than 26,000 residents located in eastern San Diego County. The city elected to participate in the Authority’s Primary Liability Program, Excess Workers’ Compensation Program, and Property Program as of July 1, 2020, seeking improvements to the city’s day-to-day risk management oversight as well as reduced program expenditures.
“The City of Lemon Grove’s staff is willing to learn, grow, and improve its exposure to risk in order to better serve the city’s residents,” said California JPIA Senior Risk Manager Alex Mellor, who has collaborated with the city to address contractual risk transfer strategies, code enforcement best practices, human resources principles and policies, ergonomics, design immunity, facilities security, and loss prevention.
After a series of burglaries at the public works yard, staff collaborated with the California JPIA to conduct a site assessment by an experienced individual with a significant background in law enforcement. Based on the consultant’s recommendations, the city re-established security measures around the facility’s perimeter and installed an actively monitored security camera system. Since the city enacted new measures, it has not experienced another burglary.
“We’re taking full advantage of everything that the California JPIA has to offer,” said Lemon Grove City Manager Lydia Romero. “Risk management has become part of the DNA of our community.”
During the height of COVID, Lemon Grove City Hall remained open because its offices allowed for social distancing. While some employees worked from home, Romero observed that those who went in to work daily showed signs of stress and pressure related to the pandemic.
“I try to stay on the cutting edge of making sure that our staff members are not only physically safe but also mentally well,” said Romero, who, among other initiatives, has advanced a “Bring Your Baby to Work” policy, which allows employees to balance childcare responsibilities with their public service positions.
Having read an article in the Harvard Business Review about how pets in the workplace reduce stress, Romero thought: let’s adopt a pet. She thoroughly vetted the idea with employees, who agreed to temporarily foster a cat from the Chula Vista Animal Care Facility, Lemon Grove’s animal services provider, for three months. That three months turned into a permanent home at Lemon Grove City Hall for “Princess Tyga,” also known as “City Kitty.”
“Princess Tyga was brought on as an emotional support animal during COVID, and she has really done her job effectively,” said Romero, who praised the year-old, cream-and-gray Tabby for her gentle and adaptable temperament. “There’s no stress release like hearing her purr engine go.”
The regal feline is supported by all staff members, who provide food and water, bedding, toys, and other supplies. She greets employees and the public from a perch near the front door, cruises various offices for treats and pets, meows at closed doors, plays with toys, and catnaps throughout the building. Even staff from the local sheriff’s department, which shares an office building with city hall, visit the lobby to pet City Kitty when they need the stress release that she brings, said Romero.
“I can tell you from personal experience that, after a tough phone call or angry message, having her jump up on my desk and petting her calms me down,” she said. “As the leader of this organization, it is my job to make sure that our employees are not only physically ready but also mentally ready to take care of the community that we serve.”
Romero makes mentoring, coaching, and “managing by walking around” a priority, taking a genuine interest in her team as whole people, not just employees. Lemon Grove also has taken advantage of California JPIA training to address workplace violence and harassment and programming specific to supervisors.
“As a small jurisdiction, with less than 50 full-time employees, Lemon Grove does not have the capacity to support a full training program,” said Romero. “The California JPIA offers high-quality resources at low to no cost.”Print Article
The headlines from 2016 were alarming – “Deputies Investigate Fourth Pedestrian Hit, Killed on Sierra Highway,” “Pedestrian Struck and Killed Monday Identified as Valencia Woman,” and “Teen Girl’s Canyon Country Death Puts Pedestrian Safety in Spotlight.” When the year was over, seven people had lost their lives on Santa Clarita City streets. From 2014 to 2016, research showed that pedestrian-involved accidents increased 30 percent. In 2016, Santa Clarita saw a tragic 75 percent increase in pedestrian-involved fatalities. In response, the city teamed up with the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station to form a traffic safety team and implement an educational campaign.
With input from city traffic, administration, and communications personnel, and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Traffic Division, the team developed the traffic plan, Heads Up, beginning in 2017. This innovative campaign consisted of out-of-the-box methods for reaching residents with four central messages: See and Be Seen, Expect People in Crosswalks, Disconnect from Distractions, and Use the Crosswalk.
Heads Up aims to educate the public about unsafe behaviors exhibited by drivers and pedestrians, including cell phone distractions and jaywalking. The objective is to correct these behaviors, which were found to contribute to accidents and reduce the total number of traffic collisions, specifically those involving pedestrians.
The implementation of Heads Up began with advertisements, social media, and editorials in local publications – and then took creative messaging outlets to the next level. Who better than to spread the message about the dangers of distracted driving to adults than their own children? The city’s communications division worked with local elementary schools in the city’s three districts to hold week-long Heads Up events on campus. These events consisted of providing children with miniature crossing guard signs featuring the Heads Up logo to increase visibility when crossing the street. By seeing their children and other young students in the crosswalks with Heads Up signs, the message really resonated with drivers who made a more personal and human connection to the danger of distracted driving.
In the first year of the campaign, Heads Up messaging was presented in many additional forms – on coffee sleeves at local coffee shops, on cell phone car mounts given to residents, and even at crosswalks themselves. The city stenciled the Heads Up logo at 36 school crosswalks and 21 additional intersections identified as high foot traffic areas. As pedestrians stepped off the curb, the uniquely placed message reminded them to look around and see and be seen.
At the end of the campaign’s first year, the number of pedestrian-involved incidents in Santa Clarita dropped by 42 percent, and not a single pedestrian life was lost. Since 2017, the campaign has expanded to address various traffic safety issues observed in the city’s data collection. Messages have been geared toward bicycle and equestrian safety and combatting instances of driving under the influence. The campaign is multi-faceted and covers best practices for drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians. It includes proactive steps that residents can take to reduce the risk of accident and injury, such as wearing clothes that make you more visible while riding your bike, only crossing the street at designated crosswalks, and disconnecting from distractions when behind the wheel.
Since launching the Heads Up campaign in 2017, the city of Santa Clarita has seen its collision rate fall from 858 per 100,000 population to 541 at the end of 2021. Setting 2020 aside, when fewer vehicles were on the road due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, 541 is the lowest collision rate on record in Santa Clarita. The collision injury rate has also fallen from 310 to 192 over the same period. When comparing 2021 statistics to 2019, the city’s collision rate is down 9 percent, collisions involving pedestrians are down 21 percent, and collisions involving cyclists are down 11 percent. To learn more about the city of Santa Clarita’s Heads Up traffic safety campaign, please visit santa-clarita.com/HeadsUp.Print Article
The California JPIA celebrates the 20th anniversary of the city of Goleta, which joined the California JPIA on the day of its incorporation: February 1, 2002.
Named for a Georgian-era shipwreck (“goleta” means schooner in Spanish), Goleta is located ten miles west of the city of Santa Barbara. Nicknamed “The Good Land,” the city is home to natural beauty, a rich agricultural tradition, and extensive recreational resources.
One such recreational resource, Sandpiper, Goleta’s championship golf course, will be the site of the Golf Tournament at the California JPIA’s 27th Annual Risk Management Educational Forum, October 5–7, 2022.
The community celebrated its milestone anniversary during Goleta’s 20th Birthday Celebration on Saturday, March 5, 2022, at the Rancho La Patera & Stow House, a museum that preserves and protects the Goleta Valley’s rich heritage. (The founder of Rancho La Patera, William Whitney Stow, served as Speaker of the California State Assembly; his son, Sherman, and grandson, Edgar, played leading roles expanding the area’s citrus industry.) The celebration featured live music, performances from the Dos Pueblos High School Theatre Company and the Junior Spirit of Fiesta, tractor and train rides, and food and beverages, complete with a sparkling cider toast. Residents had the opportunity to sign a community mural, learn from and interact with city staff, and relive the history of Goleta with a reflective video. A photo station—as well as the debut of limited-edition t-shirts, hats, mugs, tote bags, and prizes from local sponsors—helped commemorate the special event.
Goleta City Manager Michelle Greene, who plans to retire on June 30, 2022, has served the community for almost 18 years, the last eight in the top administrative role. She joined Goleta from the city of Grover Beach as a management analyst before being promoted to administrative services director and, later, deputy city manager. During her tenure as city manager, Greene has been responsible for executing the purchase of the community’s city hall facility, acquiring a parcel of land in Old Town Goleta and constructing the Jonny D. Wallis Neighborhood Park, obtaining $3.9 million from the California State Coastal Conservancy for restoration of a monarch butterfly habitat on Ellwood Mesa, establishing a LEAD (Learn Empower Advocate Discuss) Academy to engage community members in local governance, and securing approval of critical fiscal improvements, among other accomplishments.
Greene leads a dedicated team of professionals who say they are united in their mission: “to ensure that Goleta remains the perfect place to live, work, and play.” Among the staff members fulfilling this promise by efficiently and transparently conducting municipal business is Human Resources/Risk Manager Todd Mitchell. Mitchell was nominated in 2019 for the California JPIA’s Capstone Award, presented annually to an individual at a member agency who best exemplifies the practice of risk management.
“Todd exemplifies the qualities of a Capstone nominee,” said Senior Risk Manager Tim Karcz, who reviews the city’s contracts and responds to questions regarding signage, COVID-related issues, and external vendor insurance requirements. “He not only supports his agency’s risk management and loss prevention efforts but also influences his colleagues to develop and follow quality risk management practices.”
Building Relationships and Managing Risk
Due to its location, city of Goleta staff members work closely with Santa Barbara Airport personnel and staff from the University of California. Sometimes Goleta’s geographical proximity to these entities can present unique challenges. “For example,” Karcz said, “the city cannot expand its current public works yard because it’s in the zone where the airplanes land.”
In addition to fostering strong relationships with the international airport and the university, Goleta also collaborates with the California Coastal Commission and the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, which monitors local monarch butterfly habitats.
Thousands of monarch butterflies winter annually at Goleta’s Ellwood Mesa Monarch Butterfly Grove. In 2017, at the city’s request, the California JPIA, along with staff and a certified arborist, reviewed the condition of an extensive network of trails in the Ellwood Mesa Sperling Preserve and Butterfly Habitat. As a result of the evaluation, Goleta prepared an action plan to top off and remove dead and dying trees, implement periodic trail inspections, ensure the safety of existing structures, install signage, close areas that pose risk, and update notification channels.
Last year, Goleta was tapped as a pilot member agency for Safehub, an earthquake damage assessment service with which the Authority has partnered.
“Safehub uses sensors to measure how earthquakes impact buildings’ structural integrity,” said Karcz. “Determining the magnitude of an earthquake, then tracking how the building responded to it can empower agencies to assess whether or not to resume operations without waiting for approval from a structural engineer.”
Congratulations, City of Goleta, on your 20th anniversary and your staff’s efforts to reduce risk in your community!Print Article
According to IBM’s 2021 Cost of a Data Breach Report, the average total cost of a data breach in the public sector was $1.93 million. This figure increased 78.7% from $1.08 million in 2020.
One of the most important steps organizations can take to reduce the likelihood of being victimized by a cyber attack is to develop a “human firewall.” A human firewall is an agency-wide commitment to follow cyber security best practices and report any breaches or suspicious activity as soon as possible.
Establishing a human firewall is impossible without educating employees on the common types of cyber threats and how to avoid falling prey to malicious actors.
To assist members with this effort, the California JPIA recently provided virtual cyber security training. The training was divided into two segments: the first segment was intended for all agency staff, while the second was intended for members of cyber incident response teams and management responsible for information technology.
A recording of the training is available to view online. Slides are also available for both sessions:
Members who were unable to attend the live training are strongly encouraged to view the recording along with the slide presentations.
The California JPIA has also developed a Cyber Security Self-Assessment Tool to help members evaluate the strength of their current cyber security posture. Taking steps to remediate any deficiencies identified in the self-assessment will better protect members against cyber security incidents.
If members have questions regarding the training or cyber security in general, they should contact their regional risk manager.Print Article