Issue 132 – February 2023
The nomination period is open for the 10th Annual California JPIA Capstone Award. The award is presented annually at the Authority’s Risk Management Educational Forum to an individual who best exemplifies risk management best practices among the Authority membership. Submissions will be accepted through April 12, 2023.
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 the member agency’s traditional or enterprise risk management efforts.
- Develops, implements, and administers loss control and prevention 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, Shannon Buckley from the City of Lake Elsinore was presented with the Capstone Award. Buckley, the City of Lake Elsinore’s Assistant City Manager, was selected from five finalists and chosen for her exemplary risk management efforts. Some of her accomplishments include implementing a new sidewalk survey program, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance program, and the dark area streetlight assessment program. Additionally, Buckley is recognized for leading by example when it comes to implementation and following through with the service and care of city employees.
All finalists will be recognized at this year’s Forum on August 30–September 1, 2023, at the Omni La Costa Resort in Carlsbad. For questions about the Capstone Award, please contact Nikki Salas by email or at (562) 467-8722.Print Article
Steve Croft, mayor of the City of Lakewood, was appointed to the California JPIA’s Executive Committee on January 25, 2023, to fill the vacant seat of Darcy McNaboe. McNaboe concluded her term as mayor with the City of Grand Terrace in December 2022.
“The California JPIA is pleased to welcome Steve Croft to serve on the Executive Committee,” said Chief Executive Officer Jon Shull. “He serves as a board member for several organizations and understands the important role of a board to advise staff and look out for member interests. The Authority will benefit from his perspective.”
Croft is a retired aerospace business manager who has been married for 41 years and has one daughter. He was elected to the Lakewood City Council in March 2005 and has served the city as a councilmember, vice mayor, and mayor. He was most recently re-elected in June 2022 by the voters of District 2 in the City of Lakewood, and he is now serving his fifth term on the council. He began serving as a Lakewood Planning and Environment Commission member in 2001.
Steve chose to participate in local government because he likes that as a council member, he can impact residents’ quality of life, and he can see that impact. “If someone is having a problem, you can help fix it,” said Croft. “It’s very gratifying because I can see the impact of my decisions daily as I drive through the city.”
One of Croft’s first in-person interactions with the Authority was attending the Newly Elected Officials Academy. He was immediately impressed with the professionalism and quality of the academy. Since then, he has attended all but two Risk Management Educational Forums. “I always find the Forums to be extremely informative, covering emerging issues that our agencies may face,” said Croft.
He applauds the Authority’s mindset of working to prevent claims and the numerous training options provided. He also appreciates the help the California JPIA provides members from the beginning, from sidewalk inspections to contract reviews. “So many resources and time go into the front end of things to avoid claims in the first place. It’s something to be proud to be a part of,” said Croft.
When an opening on the Executive Committee became available, Steve knew he should pursue the opportunity. “The timing was right for me to step up and be a part of the Executive Committee,” said Croft.
Croft participates in the League of California Cities and the Gateway Cities Council of Governments. He is a representative on the Executive Board for the Los Angeles Division of the League of California Cities and a Los Angeles County Library Commissioner. Croft is a proud member of the Lakewood Lions Club and of the Friends of the Lakewood Libraries. He serves as a Lakewood Regional Medical Center and Pathways Volunteer Hospice board member.
The California JPIA Executive Committee comprises nine members elected by the Board of Directors to provide day-to-day policy direction to the Authority’s staff. The committee meets monthly to consider policies related to the California JPIA’s many programs and services. In addition, the Executive Committee also carries out ex-officio responsibility for Claims, Budget, Bylaws, and Personnel committees. Learn more about each member on the Authority’s Executive Committee webpage.
Congratulations, Steve, and welcome to the Executive Committee!Print Article
California JPIA staff members were again at the forefront of trends affecting local government agencies. Staff shared knowledge and best practices with industry peers at two important conferences: the 2023 League of California Cities City Managers Conference and the Public Agency Risk Management Association (PARMA) Annual Conference, The Sweet Success of Risk Management.
The League of California Cities (Cal Cities) defends and expands local government control through advocacy efforts. Cal Cities also offers education and training programs designed to teach city officials about new developments in their field and allow for the exchange of solutions to common challenges facing their cities. The Cal Cities City Managers Conference in Carlsbad, February 8–10, welcomed 500 city managers, assistant city managers, and deputy city managers from across the state who equipped themselves with essential information and updates to run their cities effectively.
In their presentation, “Small City Succession Planning: Creating a Culture of Growth,” California JPIA Chief Executive Officer Jon Shull, Imperial Beach City Manager Andy Hall, Pismo Beach City Manager Jim Lewis, and San Dimas City Manager Chris Constantin shared how they have been able to attract, grow, and retain employees within their public agencies. They discussed creating fun and nurturing environments at work that help employees develop professionally while feeling a part of a community. They also discussed the importance of creating a talent pipeline, working with the local university or junior college, and creating a robust internship program to grow employees locally.
“Both the League of California Cities City Managers Conference and the PARMA Annual Conference offer our staff an incredible opportunity to learn from and share with fellow public agency colleagues,” said Deputy Executive Officer Alex Smith. “We exchange stories about successes and challenges and then translate that information into tactical plans that help our members thrive.”
PARMA is dedicated to the professional development of all California public agency personnel responsible for risk management and promoting risk management as a critical component for public agency fiscal health. The PARMA Annual Conference in Sacramento, February 7–10, featured educational and motivational sessions, networking events, and an exhibit hall. California JPIA team members were featured in several sessions at the conference. Authority session topics encompassed a wide variety of issues, including the following presentations:
- California JPIA Workers’ Compensation Program Manager Jeff Rush, along with Safety National’s Mark Walls, presented “Out Front Ideas to Watch in 2023,” a session that highlighted risk management, healthcare, and leave of absence challenges in 2023 and how these challenges could impact public entities and their risk management programs.
- As part of a panel presentation titled “How COVID-19 Changed the World of Workers’ Compensation and Disability Accommodation,” California JPIA Employment Practices Manager Kelly Trainer Policky and Workers’ Compensation Program Manager Jeff Rush discussed the COVID-19 fallout public entity employers continue to deal with. They also addressed challenges, including emerging case law regarding workers’ compensation claims, employer burden when reasonably accommodating employees related to COVID-19 restrictions, and the discovery involved in workers’ compensation COVID-19 claims.
- California JPIA Liability Program Manager Paul Zeglovitch and Carl Warren Liability Pool Claims Manager Chris Kustra presented “Managing Employment Practices Liability Exposures – Where Do You Start?” The session discussed how to prepare and train managers, conduct pre-claim collaboration with qualified counsel, and smartly litigate employment practice liability cases.
PARMA is guided by a team of volunteer leaders, including four California JPIA staff members who are all serving various roles for the 2023–2025 season: Workers’ Compensation Program Manager Jeff Rush, who will serve as president; Liability Program Manager Paul Zeglovitch, who will serve as secretary/treasurer; 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 care deeply about risk management and providing best-in-class services to our member agencies. Their commitment is evident in their leadership of organizations that support the professional development of public agency employees,” said Chief Executive Officer Jon Shull. “Our staff’s engagement on this level reinforces the Authority’s role as California’s preeminent municipal risk management leader.”Print Article
The California JPIA will soon offer members a new resource, STOPit Solutions. Launching at the end of February, STOPit Solutions will allow participating Authority members to protect and maintain the integrity and well-being of their agency staff.
STOPit Solutions is designed to allow anonymous reporting in the workplace for unsafe, harmful, or non-compliant behaviors. The program’s purpose is to deter inappropriate behaviors in the workplace, including, but not limited to, harassment, discrimination, threats, compliance risk, theft, fraud, and mental health concerns. In addition to incident reporting, STOPit allows agencies to monitor reported incidents closely and provides resources to manage and resolve incidents.
“The STOPit Solutions program is designed to empower staff members at our agencies to report concerning behaviors or actions anonymously,” said Management Analyst Abraham Han. “It also allows administrators within an agency to be aware of difficult situations and proactively think through solutions before those situations become bigger or more problematic.”
Han notes that in addition to its many benefits, STOPit will offer immense support to administrators. Participating member agencies will be responsible for designating multiple in-house administrators to monitor reported incidents. In addition, STOPit will also provide certified response agents to monitor incidents and answer telephone hotline calls. The certified response agents will allow administrators to escalate issues quickly and effectively. Additionally, STOPit will provide members with a means for documenting steps taken when (and after) an incident is submitted.
To help Authority members learn more about STOPit solutions and how they can effectively implement the program within their agencies, the Authority will host a webinar on March 1 at 1:00 p.m. If you want to learn more about the webinars and the program, please email STOPit’s Director of Partner Relations Richelle Stanz or email Abraham Han.Print Article
Many cities have faced challenges when trying to deter illegal street racing and sideshow intersection takeovers. Illegal street racing occurs when drivers race their vehicles at high speeds on public streets. Sideshows are illegal gatherings where drivers take over city intersections and wide stretches of road to do stunts with their cars, including burnouts, doughnuts, and figure-eights. Unlawful street racing and sideshow takeovers endanger drivers, pedestrians, and spectators. However, sideshows can be especially concerning as they can be advertised, so when the groups of drivers gather, crowds of spectators wait for the “show.” Spectators can soar into the hundreds and block additional traffic lanes and sidewalks. Not only are sideshows dangerous for individuals involved, but they can also damage city infrastructure, destroying the roadway, street signs, and poles.
Most existing state laws treat these crimes as misdemeanor offenses, making them difficult to prosecute through local courts. Unless your public agency has specific ordinances related to illegal street racing and sideshows, deterring these events can be difficult for law enforcement.
The City of Paramount, a California JPIA member, took action to curb these activities in their city. In 2020, Paramount adopted two ordinances establishing regulations for illegal street racing and sideshow activities. The first ordinance declares that vehicles used in street racing and sideshow activities are a nuisance, allowing the vehicles to be impounded. If cars are used to block an intersection illegally, those vehicles can also be seized. In addition, if damage has occurred to an intersection, felony vandalism charges can also be filed against drivers, making them liable for full reimbursement of up to $6,000 to repair the damage. Vehicle impound costs and ancillary fines can grow into thousands of dollars for each driver. The second ordinance declares that spectators can be cited with a misdemeanor offense and fined $2,000 per offense.
According to a Paramount staff report, data from January 2021 through August 2022 resulted in 137 arrests, 272 notice to appear in court citations, 78 notice to appear citations for spectators, 145 administrative citations for spectators, 117 vehicles impounded, and 25 vehicles confiscated.
“I applaud the City of Paramount staff and city council for addressing street racing and sideshow spectating by taking necessary action and passing ordinances against this illegal and dangerous activity,” said Senior Risk Manager Melaina Francis. “Protecting people, property, and the environment from noise, exhaust, and high-risk maneuvers by drivers that can lead to serious bodily injury, or worse fatalities, is absolutely the best risk management practice.”
In tandem with the ordinances, the city created a task force that has been successful in helping to seize problem vehicles. The task force includes Paramount public safety staff, the city attorney, the city’s dedicated deputy district attorney, and the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department.
“Creating a sound policy to mitigate nuisances and illegal activity in our community takes a team effort,” says Paramount City Manager John Moreno. “We try to balance proactive efforts with responsive action, and it helps when our city council and city staff are philosophically aligned in our mission and goals.”
Your council may want to explore the creation of an ordinance that establishes a legal procedure for forfeiting “nuisance” vehicles and allows for the prosecution of street race audiences. If you are interested in learning more, contact your regional senior risk manager.Print Article
Maria Galvan, a senior risk manager who joined the California JPIA in 2013, commemorates a milestone anniversary—ten years of service—this month. Promoted from risk manager to senior risk manager in July 2019, Galvan manages member relations. She oversees training, risk management, claims, and finance for members in Region 5, which includes the San Gabriel Valley, Pomona Valley, West Los Angeles County, and the City of La Palma.
“Everyone on the Authority’s staff listens to each other’s perspectives, opinions, and ideas,” said Galvan, who describes the California JPIA as a one-stop shop for anything related to risk management. “Our ultimate goal is to provide the best service to our members, and teamwork helps us to achieve that goal.”
Galvan joined the California JPIA from the City of La Puente, where she was a management assistant and rehabilitation grant specialist. She leverages her insider’s understanding of municipal operations to help the Authority’s member agencies serve the public, embracing experiences and challenges ranging from reviewing complex contracts to evaluating risk exposures to presenting to municipal leaders.
“I understand that risk management is just one of many priorities for public agency staff,” said Galvan. “I aspire to be a valuable resource for our members, just as Insurance Programs Manager Jim Thyden, Workers’ Compensation Program Manager Jeff Rush, and every California JPIA staff member and business partner I communicated with were a resource for me when I worked in La Puente.”
While she is involved with various California JPIA projects, Galvan said the most interesting was serving on the Authority’s COVID-19 resource team.
“None of us imagined that we would ever have to be experts on a pandemic,” she said. “Early on, when the pandemic started, we formed a resource team.”
As a team lead, Galvan kept up to date on frequently changing county and state health orders, as well as legal matters related to the pandemic. She also led the development of a COVID-19 exposure control plan and a COVID-19 resource page on the Authority’s website.
Galvan is a subject matter expert on First Amendment Audits, a trend by which individuals enter public facilities and record interactions with public agency staff and officials under the auspices of the First Amendment right to free speech. She said an auditor’s goal is to provoke an adverse reaction and record staff violations, potentially leading to litigation. When Galvan’s article on the topic captured the attention of the director of judicial education for the Supreme Court of Wisconsin, she was invited to present at their 2020 Judicial Conference. Her breakout session, “Responding to First Amendment Audits,” co-presented with Attorney Scott Grossberg, addressed how public agencies could prepare for such encounters.
“Maria regularly collaborates with the Authority’s training division to prepare and present new content and resources. She provides valuable assistance onboarding new members and plays a key leadership role in updating the Contractual Risk Transfer Manual,” said Deputy Executive Officer Alex Smith. “Maria serves the Authority’s members and the pooling community with high-level risk management expertise and does so with genuine care and consideration.”
Galvan earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in political science and sociology from California State University, Fullerton. A certified Associate Risk Management Professional, she also holds a Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter designation and diploma from The Institutes for completing courses and examinations on risk management principles, insurance policy contracts, and coverage analysis. Galvan also sits on the California Association of Joint Powers Authorities (CAJPA) Litigation, Insurance, and Tort Liability Committee. As part of the committee, she helps develop training programs.
Congratulations, Maria, on your 10th anniversary!Print Article
The California JPIA congratulates Senior Risk Manager Melaina Francis, who celebrates her 10th anniversary with the Authority this February.
Melaina joined the California JPIA as a risk manager in February 2013. During her time with the Authority, she has diligently and thoughtfully served members from the Palos Verdes Peninsula & Harbor and Central and South Los Angeles County regions, notes Deputy Executive Officer Alex Smith. Before joining the California JPIA, Melaina gained a wide array of experiences that prepared her for her role with the Authority as a senior risk manager.
At the start of her career, Melaina served as a heavy equipment operator in the United States Army. Following her time in the Army, she obtained a certification in hazardous materials management from the University of Riverside while working as a contract clerk for the U.S. Navy.
“My passion for helping members stems from a place of service,” said Melaina. “Serving in the Army built my foundation of commitment, integrity, and service.”
After her time in the Army and as a civilian with the Navy, Melaina became an environmental safety and health administrator with Continental Airlines at its World Way West facilities in the Los Angeles International Airport, making her one of five in her role for the entire operation in the United States. This experience would springboard her career with Long Beach Transit for 13 years, during which she would obtain a Bachelor of Science degree in public administration from the University of Phoenix. She then accepted the position as risk manager with the Riverside Transit Agency.
“Serving as the risk manager for the Riverside Transit Agency and as a safety officer for Long Beach Transit provided a multitude of hands-on opportunities for me to mitigate health, safety, and environmental risk exposures,” said Melaina.
While collaborating alongside engineers in her roles at Long Beach Transit and Riverside Transit Agency, Melaina notes that she learned the ins and outs of environmental, health, and safety compliance for multiple public facilities. She provided risk and safety management expertise, environmental oversight of operations, injury prevention programs, and contractual risk transfer reviews of all agency contracts, all of which have contributed to Melaina becoming a successful leader in her role as a senior risk manager with the Authority.
At Long Beach Transit, Melaina recalls she “wore many hats” as safety committee chair and emergency response manager. She also maintained agency emergency plans, acquired resources, conducted and coordinated Cal/OSHA and emergency response training for the agencies. Francis notes she could share many more examples of her experiences in the risk and safety management field that provide invaluable knowledge to her now.
“I employ my knowledge, skills, and abilities that I gained through my many experiences to effectively assist members in my region,” said Melaina. “After 28 years, I know a thing or two about public agencies.”
Melaina also notes that a key to her successful partnerships with members—and one of the best parts of her role as a senior risk manager—is forging and developing consistent relationships with members’ staff.
“What I have enjoyed most about working with the California JPIA for the past ten years is providing meaningful assistance to our members and knowing that I am backed by supportive executive staff, highly knowledgeable coworkers, and subject matter experts,” said Melaina.
“Melaina’s industry knowledge and expertise are truly remarkable,” said Smith. “The Authority is incredibly lucky to have a senior risk manager who deeply understands the issues facing our members.”
Congratulations, Melaina, on your 10th anniversary!Print Article
Workplace Violence Affects Every Workplace – Employers Should Evaluate Their Policies and Training To Ensure Employees and Guests are PreparedBy Michael R. Watts, Of Counsel, Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud & Romo
Originally published on January 26, 2023. Reprinted with permission from Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud & Romo.
Tragically, California is reeling from the effects of two mass shootings in almost as many days, each one leaving in its wake shattered lives. These devastating events are on top of what is shaping up to be an especially violent year so far, with multiple mass shootings taking place less than one month into the year.
In just the past few weeks, we have seen violence affect communities coast to coast, and impact almost every type of location. These tragedies have occurred at agricultural sites, college campuses, in large retail settings, in night life locations, on military installations and simply in streets and neighborhoods throughout America. Though the causes and triggers of violent incidents are multi-faceted, there are core lessons which community members and employers can take from these incidents to be prepared, should they be confronted with a violent incident. Violence can happen in any place, and almost all of the locations where these shootings have occurred are workplaces of some sort. Employers of all sizes and in all industries should review their policies and training to ensure they are preparing their employees and their businesses to react in case the unthinkable occurs. To paraphrase a military saying, you will react like you train.
The first lesson we must draw from these incidents is that preparation is critical. As an individual, knowing where you will go and rehearsing what you will do in a violent incident are key considerations. As an FBI guide puts it, “you must be prepared both mentally and physically to deal with the situation.” (FBI Active Shooter Event Quick Reference Guide.) The admonition to be prepared is all the more important for employers, who have a duty to provide a safe workplace to their employees under both federal and California law. Part of fulfilling that duty, in the context of preventing and responding to workplace violence, should be a workplace violence prevention policy and plan coupled with a robust training plan.
Both OSHA and Cal/OSHA begin discussions on preventing workplace violence by noting that management commitment, demonstrated through strong workplace anti-violence policies, are essential to combating workplace violence. Another tool to mitigate the risk of violence is a robust workplace violence prevention plan (“WVPP”). These comprehensive plans in California are required for health care facilities and providers. With a current draft rule pending in California, they may soon be required for all businesses. Such plans necessitate a comprehensive review of an employer’s physical, managerial and personnel systems to identify and apply mitigation measures to risks. Though the risk of workplace violence can never be fully mitigated, preparing a WVPP can assist an employer in identifying everything from blind spots in personnel screening and discipline policies, to actual physical blind spots where an employee could be cut off from assistance by an attacker. Finally, thorough training on workplace violence identification and prevention, which could include everything from viewing the FBI’s Run Hide Fight video, to actually teaching employees to physically defend themselves (which is very common in health care settings), should be an essential part of an employer’s workplace violence prevention program.
Given the prevalence and variety of violent incidents impacting the workplace today, employers would be well advised to review their preparations for a workplace violence incident to see if any additions or improvements could be made. In the interest of everyone’s safety in the workplace, it should be reinforced that “we will react like we train.”
Employers can direct their questions about the application of California law to the author or their usual trusted counsel at AALRR.
This AALRR post is intended for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon in reaching a conclusion in a particular area of law. Applicability of the legal principles discussed may differ substantially in individual situations. Receipt of this or any other AALRR publication does not create an attorney-client relationship. The Firm is not responsible for inadvertent errors that may occur in the publishing process.Print Article