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Bullying in the Workplace

Bullying in the Workplace

March 1, 2012 by Janice Corbin and Janet May
Category: HR Advisor

This Advisor column was originally published in September 2005.

As part of our business, we spend a lot of time working with workgroups who are having difficulty functioning well together as a team. Oftentimes, one of the factors co...

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Is it Safe to Provide a Job Reference?

Is it Safe to Provide a Job Reference?

March 1, 2012 by Elizabeth Kennar
Category: HR Advisor

This Advisor column was originally published in August 2005.

Many employers are reluctant to give job references for fear that they will be sued for defamation based upon the information provided. This is because an employer who mak...

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Labor Relations Policy Development: New Balance is Smaller Concessions

Labor Relations Policy Development: New Balance is Smaller Concessions

March 1, 2012 by Cabot Dow
Category: HR Advisor

This Advisor column was originally published in September 2011.

Local government budgets reflect the priority the public puts on essential services, many of which are delivered by public employees: law enforcement, firefighting/ems,...

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Elected Officials Can be Subject to Recall for Violating Employment Laws

Elected Officials Can be Subject to Recall for Violating Employment Laws

March 1, 2012 by Sofia D'Almeida Mabee
Category: HR Advisor

This Advisor column was originally published in June 2011.

Elected officials in Washington State can be subject to recall by the voters for “malfeasance, misfeasance, or violation of the oath of office.” Generally, this ...

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Why Do Our Meetings Take So Long?

Why Do Our Meetings Take So Long?

March 1, 2012 by Carl H. Neu
Category: Council-Commission Advisor

Frequently, I hear the lament, "Why do our meetings last so long?" My experience and observations lead me to conclude, there are usually three main reasons.

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Should Our Council Adopt Robert's Rules of Order?

Should Our Council Adopt Robert's Rules of Order?

March 1, 2012 by Ann G. Macfarlane
Category: Council-Commission Advisor

We believe that Robert's Rules still provides the best and most useful set of rules of order for civic bodies in our state - provided that folks are willing to do a little work and learn how to use Robert's Rules properly.

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Supreme Court Underscores the Requirement to Produce an Exemption Log under the PRA

Supreme Court Underscores the Requirement to Produce an Exemption Log under the PRA

March 1, 2012 by Ramsey Ramerman
Category: Open Government Advisor

This Advisor column was originally published in February 2009.

In its most recent public records act decision, Rental Housing Authority v. City of Des Moines<...

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Dangerous Decisions

Dangerous Decisions

March 1, 2012 by Eric Svaren
Category: HR Advisor

This Advisor column was originally published in February 2011.

“They need to learn that this not a democracy, but a benevolent dictatorship,” a senior manager recently said to me. He was commenting on his staff’s d...

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Court Holds Agencies Can Enforce Their Public Records Act Policies

Court Holds Agencies Can Enforce Their Public Records Act Policies

March 1, 2012 by Ramsey Ramerman
Category: Open Government Advisor

This Advisor column was originally published in March 2009.

In a recently published opinion, Parmelee v. Clarke, -- Wn...

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What to Do About Gossip in the Workplace?

What to Do About Gossip in the Workplace?

March 1, 2012 by Janice Corbin and Janet May
Category: HR Advisor

This Advisor column was originally published in May 2005.

During our seminars and when we are working with clients, supervisors and managers frequently mention how difficult it is to try and deal with the "gossip" and &quo...

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Using the Round Robin Method for Efficient Council Meetings

Using the Round Robin Method for Efficient Council Meetings

March 1, 2012 by Ann G. Macfarlane
Category: Council-Commission Advisor

The simplest way to make city council meetings more efficient is to use the round robin method of discussion. Sometimes, however, it's harder to employ this method than it seems. These are our tips for successful use of the round robin.

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PERC's New Decision on Weingarten Rights

PERC's New Decision on Weingarten Rights

March 1, 2012 by Sofia D'Almeida Mabee
Category: HR Advisor

This Advisor column was originally published in January 2011.

“Weingarten rights”, which derive from a U.S. Supreme Court decision provide that employees have the right to union representation at investigatory interviews when the employee reasonably believes that discipline will follow. Although the case...

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When People Complain About

When People Complain About "Communications"

March 1, 2012 by Dee Endleman
Category: HR Advisor

This Advisor column was originally published in February 2005.

"Communications are bad around here."
"You know what our problem is? Lack of communication."
"If we would just learn ...

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Keeping Internal Controls Fresh in Your Organization

Keeping Internal Controls Fresh in Your Organization

March 1, 2012 by Tracey Dunlap
Category: Finance Advisor

Kirkland tries to keep the issue of internal controls before management and staff in a variety of ways, including periodic “internal control moments” at senior management meetings, ad hoc training on specific topics, inviting departments with issues to the exit conference, etc. The city recently completed a large annexation and we decided that this would be a great time to do some organization-wide training.

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How Much Should a Mayor Talk at Meetings?

How Much Should a Mayor Talk at Meetings?

March 1, 2012 by Ann G. Macfarlane
Category: Council-Commission Advisor

One of the challenges that faces newly elected mayors is knowing how much they should speak at meetings. It can be a challenge to adapt to the requirements of running council meetings.

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Employers Need to Promptly and Effectively Address Complaints of Workplace Harassment

Employers Need to Promptly and Effectively Address Complaints of Workplace Harassment

March 1, 2012 by Mark Busto
Category: HR Advisor

This Advisor column was originally published in October 2010.

By Mark Busto, Brian M. Flock and M. Edward Taylor

Both the Washington Law Against Discrimination and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964...

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Year-End is a good time to get a financial

Year-End is a good time to get a financial "checkup"

March 1, 2012 by Mike Bailey
Category: Finance Advisor , Investments

The end of the year approaches.  I know because my budget is in the capable hands of our city council.  Another way I know is that we have started our annual year-end "checkup." In this article, we will share some ideas about  how you can use the "slower time" around the holidays to review some important financial vital signs.

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Who Makes the City and County Accounting Rules We Must Follow?

Who Makes the City and County Accounting Rules We Must Follow?

March 1, 2012 by Mike Bailey
Category: Finance Advisor

RCW 43.09.200 says the Washington State Auditor shall prescribe a uniform system of accounting and reporting for all local governments. This is not totally unique in the country as a few other states have a statewide office establishing the accounting rules. What is completely unique is that the State Auditor then conducts the audits of all these local governments.

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When Emotions Run High

When Emotions Run High

March 1, 2012 by Eric Svaren
Category: HR Advisor

You've just announced another round of layoffs. A recent high-visibility project went very badly, leaving work relationships in tatters. Staff members are giving each other the cold shoulder. When you ask questions to understand what's going on, all you get are vague statements and veiled references.

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Budget-Related Furloughs: Employers Must Bargain Both Decision and Effects

Budget-Related Furloughs: Employers Must Bargain Both Decision and Effects

March 1, 2012 by Kristin Anger
Category: HR Advisor

This Advisor column was originally published in June 2010.

In recent years, the faltering economy has forced many public employers to get creative in finding ways to reduce expenditures. Unpaid furloughs have proven an attractive al...

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Balancing the Council's Right to Manage Meetings With Expectations of Citizens

Balancing the Council's Right to Manage Meetings With Expectations of Citizens

March 1, 2012 by P. Stephen DiJulio
Category: Council-Commission Advisor

Many city and county councils may be unsure about their ability to respond to disruptive conduct for fear of violating their citizens' First Amendment rights to free speech. A recent decision from the Federal Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals highlights and provides guidance on these issues.

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Financial Statements - GAAP or Cash Basis? You Decide

Financial Statements - GAAP or Cash Basis? You Decide

March 1, 2012 by Mike Bailey
Category: Finance Advisor

One of the more interesting questions I&rsquo;ve been asked by an elected official recently was whether GAAP (generally accepted accounting principles) was better for their city than the non-GAAP alternative offered by the Washington State Auditor's Office.

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Electronic Communications and Social Media: Managing Employer Risks with Clear Policies

Electronic Communications and Social Media: Managing Employer Risks with Clear Policies

March 1, 2012 by Mark Busto
Category: HR Advisor

This Advisor column was originally published in March 2010.

For many of us, it is hard to remember a time when conducting our work duties did not involve extensive use of email communications and the internet. For this reason, most ...

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Finance 101

Finance 101

March 1, 2012 by Toni Nelson
Category: Finance Advisor

In anticipation of the coming budget season, we thought a discussion on the characteristics that make governmental accounting unique would be helpful.

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Employee Performance Evaluations

Employee Performance Evaluations

March 1, 2012 by Janice Corbin and Janet May
Category: HR Advisor

This Advisor column was originally published in January 2005.

Recently, as cities and counties try to do more work with fewer resources, we have seen a resurgence in public entities wanting to focus on performance management, includ...

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Property Taxes in Washington

Property Taxes in Washington

March 1, 2012 by Glenn Olson
Category: Finance Advisor

This article explains the basics of how property assessment and taxes are calculated, and why a large increase in assessment may not mean a large increase in taxes.

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When Conflict Is Good (And When It's Not)

When Conflict Is Good (And When It's Not)

March 1, 2012 by Eric Svaren
Category: HR Advisor

This Advisor column was originally published in January 2010.

Nancy and Bonita are always at loggerheads in meetings. Casper and Dylan are always complaining (to you) about each other. Miguel and Keisha can hardly bear to be in the ...

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Why the Government lawyer may not be the lawyer of the Council or Commission

Why the Government lawyer may not be the lawyer of the Council or Commission

March 1, 2012 by P. Stephen DiJulio
Category: Council-Commission Advisor

This column focuses on the need for communication among government clients and their lawyers and summarizes the foundations for what is generally understood as the "entity" approach to legal representation of municipal  corporations.

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Drawing the Line Between Physical Fitness Tests and Medical Examinations Prohibited by the ADA

Drawing the Line Between Physical Fitness Tests and Medical Examinations Prohibited by the ADA

March 1, 2012 by Mark Busto
Category: HR Advisor

This Advisor column was originally published in October 2009.

In Indergard v. Georgia-Pacific Corp., the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit examined the issue of whether a physical capacity evaluation for employees...

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"The Future Isn't a Gift. It is To Be Achieved."

March 1, 2012 by Carl H. Neu
Category: Council-Commission Advisor

This quote, allegedly from Robert Kennedy, really rings true today given the daunting challenges facing our nation's federal, state and local governments.

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Less Is More: Action Minutes Serve the City Best

Less Is More: Action Minutes Serve the City Best

March 1, 2012 by Ann G. Macfarlane
Category: Council-Commission Advisor

If your council, commission or committee takes detailed minutes of your meetings, we recommend switching to action minutes. Action minutes record what is done at a meeting and not what is said.

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Getting a Grip on Grievances

Getting a Grip on Grievances

March 1, 2012 by Janice Corbin and Janet May
Category: HR Advisor

This Advisor column was originally published in September 2004.

Collective bargaining is the process whereby the employer and the union exchange commitments, in the form of a collective bargaining agreement ("CBA"), for th...

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The Latest in Retaliation Law

The Latest in Retaliation Law

March 1, 2012 by Mark Busto
Category: HR Advisor

This Advisor column was originally published in June 2009.

As many employers are aware, retaliation claims now comprise one of the largest sources of litigation and potential liability arising out of the workplace.  In a recent...

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Unintended Consequences of Policy Perspectives and Decisions

Unintended Consequences of Policy Perspectives and Decisions

March 1, 2012 by Carl H. Neu
Category: Council-Commission Advisor

As public officials, elected or appointed, all of us assume we are dedicated, well-intentioned and hard working. But the realities and pressures of governing, managing and politics can invite or pressure us into making decisions that produce consequences or results other than those we intended.

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Nuts and Bolts of Intergovernmental Associations

Nuts and Bolts of Intergovernmental Associations

March 1, 2012 by Marc Greenough
Category: Council-Commission Advisor

The recession and voter-imposed restrictions on increases in taxation as well as the urbanization of formerly rural areas are leading local governments to pool resources in various forms of intergovernmental associations.

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Taking the Mystery out of Loudermill Meetings

Taking the Mystery out of Loudermill Meetings

March 1, 2012 by Janice Corbin and Janet May
Category: HR Advisor

This Advisor column was originally published in June 2004.

In our consultations with public employers we often find that the actual process of conducting a Loudermill meeting is still very much a mystery. In reality, Lou...

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Strategies for Preventing Workplace Violence

Strategies for Preventing Workplace Violence

March 1, 2012 by Janice Corbin and Janet May
Category: HR Advisor

This Advisor column was originally published in March 2004.

Washington State Legislators have passed two new domestic violence laws during this legislative session that will impact how some employers will deal with employees who are...

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Recent Legal Changes Add to Employees' Rights and Benefits in a Reduction-in-Force

Recent Legal Changes Add to Employees' Rights and Benefits in a Reduction-in-Force

March 1, 2012 by Shannon Phillips
Category: HR Advisor

This Advisor column was originally published in April 2009.

The severe budgetary constraints faced by most public employers this year have forced some to implement a reduction-in-force to reduce expenditures. Many more may feel comp...

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New Domestic Violence Leave Expands Washington Employees' Right to Time Off

New Domestic Violence Leave Expands Washington Employees' Right to Time Off

March 1, 2012 by Mark Busto
Category: HR Advisor

This Advisor column was originally published in September 2008.

The Washington legislature recently added a new form of leave to the already-existing constellation of grounds for protected time off work. Leave must now be provided t...

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Ringing in the New? Pregnancy Discrimination and Pregnancy-Related Leaves

Ringing in the New? Pregnancy Discrimination and Pregnancy-Related Leaves

March 1, 2012 by Mark Busto
Category: HR Advisor

This Advisor column was originally published in January 2008.

By Mark Busto, Evan D. Chinn and Jillian Barron

In recent months, the Washington Supreme Court clarified state anti-discrimination laws and reg...

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A Hybrid Approach to Form-Based Codes in the Northwest

A Hybrid Approach to Form-Based Codes in the Northwest

March 1, 2012 by Bob Bengford
Category: Planning Advisor

Can form-based codes be applied to Northwest communities? Of course. Are they appropriate for your community? It depends. This post has some things to think about if you are considering updating your land use/design codes using a form-based approach.

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Engineering Success for the Productive Employee

Engineering Success for the Productive Employee

March 1, 2012 by Janice Corbin and Janet May
Category: HR Advisor

This Advisor column was originally published in November 2007.

In looking back over our MRSC articles for the last couple of years, we found that our focus in the articles has oftentimes been on the same employee that most managers ...

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Shaping Growth: Using Capital Facilities to Implement Comprehensive Plans

Shaping Growth: Using Capital Facilities to Implement Comprehensive Plans

March 1, 2012 by Pat Dugan
Category: Planning Advisor

This Advisor column was originally published in April 2008.

Most planners understand the importance of capital facilities in carrying out a comprehensive plan. Usually planners think of about the role of capital facilities in a reac...

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Managing Change Effectively In the Workplace - Part 2

Managing Change Effectively In the Workplace - Part 2

March 1, 2012 by Janice Corbin and Janet May
Category: HR Advisor

This Advisor column was originally published in March 2007.

In our previous article, we discussed the inevitability of c...

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Fair Labor Standards Act Classifications: Are Your Employees Correctly Classified?

Fair Labor Standards Act Classifications: Are Your Employees Correctly Classified?

March 1, 2012 by Jennifer A. Parda
Category: HR Advisor , FLSA

This Advisor column was originally published in April 2011.

As employers are acutely aware, properly classifying employees under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA") presents many challenges. Exempt categories are...

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Managing Change Effectively In the Workplace - Part 1

Managing Change Effectively In the Workplace - Part 1

March 1, 2012 by Janice Corbin and Janet May
Category: HR Advisor

This Advisor column was originally published in October 2006.

Today’s workplaces are changing at lightning speed. Not only do we find it difficult to make changes in our lives, it is normal to be resistant to change. The proce...

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Are Your Workers Misclassified?

Are Your Workers Misclassified?

March 1, 2012 by Elizabeth Kennar
Category: HR Advisor

This Advisor column was originally published in April 2007.

Important consequences flow from the determination that an individual is a regular employee, as compared with a temporary or seasonal employee or independent contractor. Th...

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Staff Meetings - Friend or Foe?

Staff Meetings - Friend or Foe?

March 1, 2012 by Janice Corbin and Janet May
Category: HR Advisor

This Advisor column was originally published in February 2006.

What follows is an all too familiar scenario that may be occurring somewhere in your own organization. A workgroup has become engaged in on-going conflict, disagreement ...

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Protecting Existing Neighborhoods from the Impacts of New Development

Protecting Existing Neighborhoods from the Impacts of New Development

March 1, 2012 by John Owen and Rachel Miller
Category: Planning Advisor

This is the first of two articles discussing regulatory strategies to address two challenges to creating compatible and livable infill development.  This article focuses on achieving compatibility between new multistory development and existing smaller-scale neighborhoods. 

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Providing for Usable Open Space for Multifamily Developments

Providing for Usable Open Space for Multifamily Developments

March 1, 2012 by Bob Bengford
Category: Planning Advisor

Describes concepts for providing usable open space in new multifamily residences, as part of regulatory strategies to address challenges in creating compatible and livable infill development.

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But What About Multiple Family Housing: Does it Pay for Itself?

But What About Multiple Family Housing: Does it Pay for Itself?

March 1, 2012 by Pat Dugan
Category: Planning Advisor

This Advisor column was originally published in August 2011.

My last posting in this space[1] challenged the commonly held notion that the cost of providing local governmental services to single ...

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Do Single-Family Dwellings Pay for Themselves?

Do Single-Family Dwellings Pay for Themselves?

March 1, 2012 by Pat Dugan
Category: Planning Advisor

This Advisor column was originally published in April 2010.

There was that assertion again: “… everyone knows that single-family houses do not support themselves.” This time I heard it over coffee from an economis...

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Negotiate a Labor Contract and Repair Relationships at the Same Time

Negotiate a Labor Contract and Repair Relationships at the Same Time

March 1, 2012 by Eric Svaren
Category: HR Advisor

This Advisor column was originally published in December 2011.

The last three years have been tough on local governments. Unemployment in Washington State is up. The real estate market has corrected. Construction is down. Sales tax ...

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Social Media in Hiring: Minimizing Legal Risks

Social Media in Hiring: Minimizing Legal Risks

March 1, 2012 by Sofia D'Almeida Mabee
Category: HR Advisor

This Advisor column was originally published in February 2012.

Never before have employers had access to so much information about job applicants. Through a few clicks of a mouse, you can learn from a Facebook profile all about an a...

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Medical Marijuana and Drug Testing - What Employers Need To Know

Medical Marijuana and Drug Testing - What Employers Need To Know

March 1, 2012 by Brian M. Flock and M. Edward Taylor
Category: HR Advisor

This Advisor column was originally published in July 2011.

In 1998, Washington voters approved the Medical Use of Marijuana Act ("MUMA"). MUMA provides a defense from criminal prosecution for physicians who prescribe medic...

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