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California Joint Powers Insurance Authority (California JPIA) staff members addressed the latest trends impacting local government agencies by sharing knowledge and best practices with municipal staff and industry peers at three important conferences: the 2024 California Society of Municipal Finance Officers (CSMFO) Conference, May the Magic of Finance Be with You, the 2024 League of California Cities City Managers Conference and the Public Agency Risk Management Association (PARMA) 50th Annual Conference and Expo.

CSMFO promotes excellence in financial management through innovation, continuing education and professional development. The CSMFO Annual Conference in Anaheim, January 30–February 2, featured educational and motivational sessions, networking events and an exhibit hall.

In their panel presentation, “Emerging Trends: The Evolving State of the Insurance Market,” California JPIA CEO Alex Smith and Finance Director Jason McBride discussed the current state of the insurance market, including emerging trends shaping the landscape. Managing Director of BMS Group, Hannah Watkins and Senior Vice President of Alliant Insurance Services, Inc., Rob Lowe, rounded out the panel, sharing the challenges of the current insurance market conditions and countermeasures for cyber security risk.

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 Hollywood, February 7–9, 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.

When confronted with complaints against their city’s elected officials, city managers may walk a delicate tightrope. California JPIA Employment Practices Manager Kelly Trainer Policky moderated a panel of experts on this topic at the League of California Cities City Managers Conference. The discussion, titled “Walking the Line: Addressing Complaints Against Elected Officials,” provided vital insights and strategies for navigating these complex situations.

Session speakers included Renne Public Management Group Executive Director Nelson A. Fialho, Van Dermyden Makus Law Corporation Managing Partner Eli Makus, Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud & Romo Partner Jenica Maldonado. Each panelist provided practical guidance on key legal considerations, offering insights into the specific challenges that arise when the subject of an investigation holds a position of authority.

The discussion centered on internal investigations, providing insight into inquiries, legal matters and best practices for navigating sensitive situations. As they walked the conference attendees through the discussion questions for consideration, the panelists weighed in on best practices for navigating these sensitive situations and shared experiences encountered throughout their careers.

“City managers face an influx of difficult tasks every day,” said Trainer Policky. “It was my pleasure to join this panel on guiding city managers through complaints against elected official complaints. Bringing intentionality to each step of this process is of the utmost importance, from your initial response to receiving a complaint to disclosing investigation results.”

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 president; Claims and Insurance Director Paul Zeglovitch, who is the Secretary/Treasurer; Insurance Programs Manager Jim Thyden, who is a past-president and member; and Risk Services Director Alex Mellor, who, along with Jim, serve as members of the conference planning committee.

Trainer Policky provided additional employment expertise at the PARMA Conference in Indian Wells, February 20–23. During her session, titled “Under Pressure: Top Ten Mistakes Employers Make in Preventing and Responding to Harassment,” she dove into responding to employee complaints with empathy.

“When California JPIA staff present at conferences and industry events, they provide relevant information and engage with local government employees and elected officials,” stated Smith. “We seek to add value by spotlighting the importance of best practices in risk management and good governance.”