MRSC Insight Blog
Posts for Archives
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
If your council, commission or committee takes detailed minutes of your meetings, our guest author recommends switching to action minutes, which record what is done at a meeting and not what is said.
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.
Is GAAP (generally accepted accounting principles) was better for local governments than the non-GAAP cash basis alternative offered by the Washington State Auditor's Office? This blog post explores the issues to consider.
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.
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.
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.
The first steps in preventing workplace violence are adopting a workplace violence policy and a violence prevention program. This post outlines some of the do's and don'ts for developing these policies and programs.
Loudermill meetings are often a source of frustration or concern, but in reality they are generally fairly simple to conduct. This post discusses some of the do's and don'ts for conducting a Loudermill meeting.
Most collective bargaining agreements contain very specific grievance processes concerning how disagreements will be made known to the employer and the timeline for resolving disagreements. How can you manage the grievance process more effectively?
Many employees and supervisors do not particularly enjoy performance evaluations. This post addresses why performance evaluations are important and key issues to keep in mind while preparing for the evaluation.
Often, one of the factors contributing to a dysfunctional team relationship is bullying behavior by one or more employees and/or by a supervisor. This post explains what bullying is, why it matters, and how to stop it.
Effective staff meetings can provide accurate and up-to-date communications and provide a forum for employees to share their thoughts in a controlled environment. So, what information should be presented at staff meetings?
Important consequences flow from the determination that an individual is a "regular employee" as opposed to a temporary employee, seasonal employee, or independent contractor, and state law prohibits public employers from misclassifying employees.
Today's workplaces are changing at lightning speed. Even when the change is positive, it still means we are giving up something that we are used to in exchange for an unknown, which can make even the most upbeat employee apprehensive.
Employers often spend enormous amounts of time focusing on problematic employees who can cause disruption and are challenging to deal with. But in doing so, they may be missing opportunities to create success for good employees who quietly perform their jobs but are seldom recognized.
In light of the 2007 Supreme Court decision Hegwine v. Longview Fibre Co., local agencies should review their policies and procedures to ensure that they are following the most recent guidance regarding employing pregnant women.
Effective in 2008, employers must provide leave to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking. This post provides an overview.
Legislation in 2008-2009 involving COBRA benefits, as well as a court decision addressing an employee's due process rights in a layoff situation, add to employers' obligations concerning layoffs.
A 2009 Supreme Court decision, Crawford v. Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, Tennessee, confirmed that federal law broadly protects employees who oppose discriminatory conduct and explains "opposition" activity.
Does a physical capacity evaluation for an employee returning to work from medical leave constitute a lawful physical fitness test, or a prohibited medical examination under the Americans with Disabilities Act? Indergard v. Georgia-Pacific Corp. (2009) addresses the issue.
Emotional conflict is profoundly unproductive and destructive, but cognitive conflict, which involves disagreements over ideas, decisions, or actions, helps to refine and tighten ideas in order to come to the best decision possible.
When employees engage in social media, the line between workplace and personal conduct can be easily blurred. This post reminds public employers to revisit their electronic communication policies and establish guidelines and expectations concerning employee use of social media.
Unpaid furloughs are an attractive alternative to layoffs for some public employers. In 2010, the PERC's King County decision affirmed that employers are obligated to bargain both the decision to implement furloughs and the effects.
If an employer fails to take prompt and effective action to correct or end a workplace harassment issue, it can incur significant liability as shown in the 2010 court decision EEOC v. Prospect Airport Services.
Managers often need to make a decision and move on while also making room for staff who want to be involved in the decision. Involving people is risky, but leaving people out of the process also presents big problems. What is a decider to do?
Stepped-up enforcement from the U.S. Department of Labor highlights the importance for employers to ensure that employees are properly classified under FLSA, as well as the high monetary costs that can ensue if they aren't.
Elected officials can be subject to recall by the voters in certain situations. The court case In re Recall of Washam (2011) applied these principles to an elected official accused of violating county ordinances prohibiting certain employment practices, including retaliation against whistleblowers.
This 2011 blog post focuses on significant differences between past and present environments in which labor contracts are negotiated, with an emphasis on smaller concessions.
The 2011 state Supreme Court decision in Roe v. TeleTech Customer Care Management (Colorado) LLC confirmed that the Medical Use of Marijuana Act does not protect medical marijuana users from adverse hiring or disciplinary decisions based on an employer's drug testing policy.
In the face of limited revenues and greater demand for services, labor relations can be difficult. But interest-based bargaining allows management and labor to collaboratively identify their unique and shared interests.
The perception that single-family houses do not generate sufficient tax revenue to pay for local government services has caused many cities to encourage commercial development and discourage residential development, exerting significant influence over how cities are growing and developing. But it this perception true?
There is a perception that multi-family housing is a drain on local government finances and is more costly to support than single-family residences. This, in turn, can affect local land use policies and cause officials to discourage multi-family development. But is this perception true?
This blog post 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.
This post explores the ways that capital facilities can be actively used to implement a comprehensive plan and the role that capital facility financing policies can play in that process by influencing when, where, and how much capital facilities will be developed.
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.