In This Issue


Organizational Restructuring Approved by PE Partners’ Board of Directors

Meet Celeste Taylor

Fresh Look — Fresh Resources

Annual Audit Request for Information

Electronic Invoices

Risk & Insurance Symposium — Commitment to Safety

Excellence in Risk Management Award Nominations Now Being Accepted

Safety Partners Grant

Risk Management and Coronavirus

Ransomware Continues to Infect Computer Systems

Qualified Immunity

Message from the President — June 2020

As we continue to celebrate our 40th anniversary of partnering with local governments across Tennessee, we are humbled by the hard-working men and women who provide services to the citizens of the Volunteer state. On Friday, June 26, our Board of Directors met, working to craft the next 40 years of Public Entity Partners’ service to our members. In this newsletter you will learn more about numerous programs and initiatives, shaped by the leadership of our board.

Public Entity Partners has a long-standing commitment to professionalism in local government. Risk management and professionalism truly go hand-in-hand. To date, 2020 has been an unforgettable year — from devastating tornadoes earlier in the year to a global pandemic, and, more recently, protests and civil unrest.

We recognize this is a difficult time in our nation and throughout the world. As an organization, we work extensively with Tennessee law enforcement. We support and cultivate professionalism in law enforcement, and the rule of law. Of equal importance is the fact that we also promote liberty, diversity and inclusion. We strive to let the core values of professionalism and respect serve as our guide during good and difficult times alike. Furthermore, as a risk sharing pool, there is an expectation that each member will promote professionalism and best practices. No doubt, across our state, there are numerous examples of excellence in local government.

This law enforcement program flyer provides additional information on how we support professionalism in law enforcement.

During our Board of Directors’ meeting, a restructuring of our organization was approved to allow us to better serve our members. Jon Calvin, director of underwriting, and Michael G. Fann, director of loss control, were both selected to serve as vice presidents, with each leading a group of departments best suited to his unique skill set. While Jon and Michael have both served our organization for many years, we invite you to learn more about their contributions to Public Entity Partners and their commitment to each of our members.

In addition to the organizational restructuring, beginning on July 1, 2020, Celeste Taylor will be transitioning to the loss control department to fill the employment practices liability (EPL) consultant role. It is no secret that employment-related claims are a growing exposure area for local governments. As part of this focus on employment practices liability, our Board of Directors also approved HR Hero and Safety Hero Resources, produced by BLR, a division of Simplify Compliance LLC. These resources are designed to give members best-in-class solutions and time-saving tools for building human resource and safety programs.

Lastly, we invite you to read more about the health and safety measures that we are putting in place as part of our 2020 Risk & Insurance Symposium. We continue to move forward with our plans to hold the Symposium on Aug. 19 - 21 at the Franklin Marriott Cool Springs, and the safety of our members remains our highest priority during the continued COVID-19 pandemic.

As you can tell from this newsletter, Public Entity Partners is working hard to serve you.

Stay safe!

Charles DeMore signature

Charles DeMore




 

Organizational Restructuring Approved by PE Partners’ Board of Directors

During a recent meeting, PE Partners’ Board of Directors approved a restructuring of our organization that will allow us to better serve our members. Jon Calvin, director of underwriting, and Michael G. Fann, director of loss control, were both selected to serve as vice presidents of PE Partners, with each leading a group of departments best suited to his unique skill set.

Jon Calvin and Michael Fann

Jon Calvin joined the Public Entity Partners underwriting department in June 2010. He has been instrumental in shaping the coverages we offer to members and tailoring our programs to the evolving exposures of Tennessee’s local governments. While serving in this role, Jon has created the PE Partners Privacy & Network Liability coverage program, including the recent Cyber Extension that covers ransomwares, social engineering and data restoration expenses. He also developed the Employment Practices Liability program, and coverages for punitive damages, class action lawsuits and more.

In addition to writing coverage documents, serving on the reinsurance committee and working with actuaries to ensure the accuracy of our premiums, Jon designed and programmed a new underwriting system, led the department to go paperless, and launched electronic applications and policy documents, all while focusing his team on service to our members.

Jon is quick to remind his staff that we should always look for ways to partner with members and understand their unique challenges. In his new role, Jon will lead the underwriting, administrative services and information technology departments as vice precident of underwriting and internal services.

Michael Fann began his career with Public Entity Partners in 1986 as a loss control consultant. If you have spent any time with Michael, you know that he is passionate about risk management and local government. He has been a staunch advocate of the loss control training program, helped to champion the grant and scholarship programs offered by PE Partners, and worked to mentor numerous risk managers across the state.

In his 26 years as director of loss control, Michael has shaped the risk control survey program, a key way that PE Partners works to increase awareness of best practices and recommendations aimed at keeping local government employees safe, safeguarding public resources and protecting citizens. In addition, the department has received national awards for its property conservation program, and is continually called on for training and educational events across the state and nation.

In his new role, Michael will lead the loss control, communications and research, and member services departments as vice president of risk services.

Numerous changes have occurred within our organization in 2020, and we are excited for the fresh perspective they bring. Our goal is to provide our members with the very best products and services with absolute integrity and professionalism. We devote each day to ensuring our members have the resources they need to reduce their risk exposures through solid operational practices — and constantly work to help them achieve their own goals.

 

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Meet Celeste Taylor

Celeste Taylor has been serving PE Partners’ members for more than seven years as a member services representative. While she served the West Tennessee region, she is known throughout the state as an expert in human resources, as well as an advocate for quality and efficiency in local government.

On July 1, 2020, Celeste will transition to the PE Partners’ loss control department to fill the employment practices liability (EPL) consultant position. In this new role, Celeste will assist PE Partners members in identifying and controlling employment liability risks, and work with the loss control department to develop and implement employment risk control tools.

Celeste began her career within the Police Department at the City of Martin as a dispatcher, working her way to communications supervisor, then transitioning to City Hall as the purchase order clerk.

At the recommendation of Paul Chambliss, the West Tennessee casualty loss control consultant for PE Partners, Mayor Randy Brundige, designated a human resources role within the City of Martin to ensure that employment matters are handled fairly and equitably, and to ensure compliance with applicable state and federal rules and regulations related to personnel. This was the beginning of her career within human resources.

“I first met Celeste when I conducted a survey for the City of Martin,” Chambliss said. “It was clear that she was very easy to talk to, accommodating and eager to learn. She has great interpersonal skills. When she began working in human resources, she worked to increase training for the city and was a staunch advocate of professionalism. She brings so much to the table with her experience, education and personality.”

It is no secret that employment-related claims are a growing exposure area for local governments. PE Partners has been committed to providing resources to local governments for many years, and Celeste’s new role also demonstrates that commitment.

“It’s been my privilege for many years to observe the expertise and contributions that Celeste Taylor has made to local governments in Tennessee; first with the City of Martin, then with TPMA-HR, and then for the past seven-plus years serving our members in West Tennessee as our regional member services representative,” said Michael Fann, vice president of risk services for PE Partners. “Her understanding of the way municipal government works, coupled with her immense knowledge of the human resources discipline, makes her the perfect fit for this new position. She’s simply one of the best there is, and now PE Partners’ members across the state will receive the benefit of her assistance.”

Celeste has a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a master’s degree in conflict resolution and mediation from Bethel University. In addition to being active in her local community, she previously served as vice president of the Tennessee Personnel Management Association (TPMA).

Celeste brings more than 30 years of local government experience, an understanding of PE Partners’ coverages and the needs of our members, and a sincere belief that we succeed when our members succeed. If you have had the pleasure of working with Celeste, you know that she is passionate about the people who make local government work and the services that are provided.

Please join us in welcoming Celeste to her new role.

Celeste Taylor

“I am very excited to continue serving our members as PE Partners’ EPL consultant. It will be rewarding for me to assist our members in fulfilling their professional obligations to their employees. Identifying and addressing employment liability risk is a key factor in mitigating employee liability claims and holding onto dollars that can be reinvested into local communities.”

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Fresh Look — Fresh Resources

As we continue through the roller coaster year of 2020, PE Partners is excited to unveil a fresh look for our expanded website in the coming days. We will share more about our new website next month, but in the meantime, don’t be surprised by our new look.

The newly designed website enables our members to quickly navigate to the resources they use most frequently, and also provides greater access to tools designed to save time and improve safety programs.

Whether you are filing a claim, applying for grants and scholarships, accessing our risk library, registering for an event, or completing online training, the new website is designed with you in mind. 

In addition to our redesigned website, we are introducing access to HR Hero - membership icon HR Hero and EHS Hero - toolkit icon EHS Hero resources for all PE Partners members. Since employment practices liability is a growing exposure area, PE Partners is providing these services to help members effectively and efficiently manage risk. Produced by BLR, a division of Simplify Compliance LLC, HR Hero and EHS Hero resources are designed to give members best-in-class tools and timesaving resources for building human resource and safety programs.

The HR Hero toolkit provides an employee handbook builder, job description manager, FLSA audit tool, extensive training templates and printable materials. 

 

For questions about HR Hero resources,
please contact:

Celeste Taylor
Employment Practices Liability Consultant
CTaylor@PEpartners.org
731.514.5994

 

EHS Hero helps members build a custom safety plan based on their organization’s exposures, and offers an extensive online database, safety toolbox trainer, and access to hundreds of training assets. 

 

To sign up for access to these resources,
please contact:


Paige Confer
PConfer@PEpartners.org
800.624.9698

 
 

For questions about EHS Hero resources,
please contact:


Halie Gallik
HGallik@PEpartners.org
800.624.9698

 

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Annual Audit Request for Information

It’s hard to believe that we’re already halfway through the calendar year, and our members are wrapping up another fiscal year and preparing for their annual audits.

If information related to your entity’s liability, property or workers’ compensation coverage is needed for your audit, please have your auditor direct requests to:

 

Finance Department
Attn: Carole Gross
562 Franklin Rd. Suite 200
Franklin, TN 37069

Carole may also be reached at CGross@PEpartners.org.

 

Requests should be made on the audit firm’s letterhead. All correspondence will be sent directly back to the requesting audit firm.

 

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Electronic Invoices

PE Partners’ finance department is now offering an electronic invoice option to our members for each line of coverage. A copy of the electronic invoice request form will be included with each month’s paper invoices or can be found here.

Please save the PDF with your information prior to submitting it.

All emailed invoices are in PDF format and are sent from our accounts receivable email address. This is a no-reply address and is not monitored, so please be sure to direct any questions to:

Carole Gross
CGross@PEpartners.org
615.371.6020

PE Partners is required by the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office to send all invoices directly to members. Agents of Record cannot be added to the invoice distribution list for any member.

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Risk & Insurance Symposium — Commitment to Safety

Public Entity Partners is moving forward with plans to hold the 2020 Risk & Insurance Symposium on Aug. 19 - 21 at the Franklin Marriott Cool Springs, and we are committed to keeping all participants safe throughout the entire event. The safety of our members remains our highest priority during the continued COVID-19 pandemic.

While it is not possible to completely eliminate all risk, we are working diligently to provide this valuable training and education opportunity to our members in an environment that is safe for everyone at all times.

In addition to Franklin Marriott’s new and stringent standards of cleanliness/disinfection and risk reduction, PE Partners is implementing numerous safety measures to minimize exposure for attendees, presenters and our own employees.

This year’s sessions include:

  • The inspiring story of Billy Parker, who has learned to thrive in the face of a catastrophic workplace injury that resulted in the loss of both arms
  • The road to recovery if your organization is infected by ransomware
  • Law enforcement and current events
  • Employees’ First Amendment rights and employment actions
  • 2020 Legislative update
  • Diversity Today
  • Bureau of Workers’ Compensation Update
  • ADA Accessibility and Websites — The Next Frontier of ADA Lawsuits

Due to the unique nature of this year’s event, we expect some session changes to take place. We will continue to post the most updated agenda on our Risk & Insurance Symposium Event Page.

If you have any questions that are not addressed on the event page, please contact Halie Gallik at HGallik@PEpartners.org or 615.371.0049.

 

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Excellence in Risk Management Award Nominations Now Being Accepted

The 5th Annual Risk & Insurance Symposium, scheduled for Aug. 19 - 21 at the Franklin Marriott Cool Springs, will undoubtedly be a unique experience as we implement safety precautions and social distancing. One thing that will not change is our opportunity to highlight the innovation and commitment our members demonstrate in risk management through our annual Excellence in Risk Management Award.

Governmental entities across Tennessee work hard every day serving their citizens. Safeguarding employees and public assets through the practice of risk management is an integral part of that service delivery. Please help us recognize the valuable and innovative work being done by our members.

Purpose
To recognize an individual, department or organization that exemplifies excellence and innovation in ― and commitment to — the risk and insurance field.

Eligibility Criteria
The nominee must be a current Public Entity Partners member, employee of a current Public Entity Partners member, or local agent of record.

The nominee must work to further risk management within their entity. Applications will be reviewed for quality and overall impact to risk management. Nominees can be considered for a specific program or contributions to risk management over time.

Nominations
Candidates may self-nominate or be nominated by someone familiar with their contributions. Nominations may be submitted by completing the Excellence in Risk Management Award Nomination Form and emailing it, along with required documents, to Symposium@PEpartners.org. The deadline for submission is Friday, July 24.

Awards will be presented on Thursday, Aug. 20, during the 2020 Risk & Insurance Symposium.

Past award winners include police chiefs, city managers, general services departments, human resources departments, risk managers, fire chiefs, and human resource directors from cities, towns, human resource authorities and other governmental entities. Risk management is often incorporated into many different areas of an organization, so don’t think that only risk managers are eligible for recognition.

A completed nomination form and a letter of recommendation is required to be submitted in order for the application to be considered. Please include copies of any relevant documents pertaining to the nomination, including a copy of policies/procedures created or a copy of an inspection procedure.

If you have questions about the award, or if you or a member need assistance in submitting a nomination, please reach out to Halie Gallik at 800.624.9698 or HGallik@PEpartners.org.

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Safety Partners Grant

Public Entity Partners’ grant and scholarship programs provide financial assistance to members, enabling them to purchase safety and loss prevention items, and to seek training opportunities for increasing their knowledge of risk management and loss control techniques.

The "Safety Partners" Matching Grant Program is designed to assist members in funding employee safety efforts aimed at reducing workers' compensation claims.

Application Deadline: Aug. 7, 2020

To view all eligibility criteria or complete the online application, click here.

  checklist icon  

Grants are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis by the time and date applications are received, so don't be left out ... apply today!

 

For questions, please contact:

Grant & Scholarship Program
Tahtia Mitchell
615.371.0049
TMitchell@PEpartners.org

 

 

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Risk Management and Coronavirus

Many businesses and organizations are working to resume more regular activities as we continue to battle COVID-19, but it is still critically important to have clear safety procedures in place to protect your employees — and members of the community with whom your employees have contact.

On July 1, Judy Housley, PE Partners’ East Tennessee casualty loss control consultant, will participate in a TRPA (Tennessee Recreation and Parks Association) Talking-Live webinar, “Coping with COVID in Recreation and Parks.” TRPA Talking-Live is a weekly online meeting for Tennessee Parks and Recreation professionals.

“Tennessee’s numbers continue to rise, so the basics of handwashing, using hand sanitizer, maintaining six feet for social distancing, and utilizing general cleaning procedures are all things we reiterate each time we talk with Parks and Recreation programs,” said Candi Rawlins, executive director of TRPA.

TRPA offers extensive reopening guidance in their Resource Center that is supported by CDC guidelines and the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA). Across Tennessee, each community’s comfort level with reopening certain parks and recreation facilities varies, but it is critical for each organization to think through and prepare for how you reopen summer camps, parks and recreation facilities, and community centers.

For summer camps, social distancing with children can be very challenging. TRPA is recommending basic precautions, such as temperature checks, no food service, and prepackaged snacks, in addition to the NRPA and CDC guidelines for summer camps.

Playgrounds and splash pads continue to be a challenge for regular sanitization.

Tennessee Pledge Guidelines from Gov. Lee’s Economic Recovery Group related to Parks and Recreation include:

If you would like to listen to the Coping with COVID in Recreation and Parks webinar hosted by TRPA, it will be available at:

Topic: Risk and Reopening: A Conversation with Public Entity Partners

Time: Jul 1, 2020 09:00 AM Central Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81140226018?pwd=YkRLRDVoV0xlQU56bjg5aDZRZDl5QT09

Meeting ID: 811 4022 6018)

Password: 626035

Meeting ID: 811 4022 6018

Password: 626035

 

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Ransomware Continues to Infect Computer Systems

Cyber security is a hot topic that is here to stay. Being locked out of your computer system and files, and the potential financial implications of notifying individuals whose data may have been impacted, can devastate any organization’s budget.

Last year, PE Partners added a Cyber Extension to the Privacy & Network Liability Policy offered to members. The Cyber Extension offered coverage for ransomware, social engineering and data restoration expenses.

PE Partners is now seeing claims where ransomware infections are also extracting data from members’ networks, requiring members to notify affected parties of the loss of their personal information — a time-consuming process that can be very costly.

Data backups continue to be the most effective means for recovering your system after a ransomware attack, but every organization should actively guard against this type of attack.

Our Sensitive Information and Computer Security Loss Control Guideline is available on our online portal or by reaching out to your casualty loss control consultant. Please do not wait until your organization has been infected by ransomware or a virus to put reasonable safeguards in place.

In a recent ransomware event for a PE Partners member, it was learned that the member was utilizing an unsupported operating system. Because hacks are sometimes conducted through computer software and operating systems, it is important to know what software has been uploaded to each computer, and what operating system (and version) is being used.

Public organizations should ensure that only software applications or operating systems that are currently supported by and receiving vendor updates are added to the organization's authorized software inventory. Unsupported software should be tagged as unsupported in the inventory system, and a determination should be made regarding whether to remove this unsupported legacy software.

For additional guidance on this issue, please contact your casualty loss control consultant.

East Tennessee
Judy Housley
JHousley@PEpartners.org

Middle Tennessee
Chester Darden
CDarden@PEpartners.org

West Tennessee
Paul Chambliss
PChambliss@PEpartners.org

 

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Qualified Immunity

Qualified Immunity in the Supreme Court and Congress

Qualified immunity is a key doctrine protecting state and local officials from individual liability, unless the official violated a clearly established constitutional right. In the 1960s, the Supreme Court recognized qualified immunity as a defense to constitutional violations. Lisa Soronen, executive director of the State & Local Legal Center, which works closely with NLC, prepared this quick summary for us to share with NLC-RISC pools about qualified immunity cases.

On June 15, the Supreme Court denied nine petitions involving qualified immunity. In the last few years, qualified immunity has been criticized by academics, think tanks and judges. Since George Floyd’s death, qualified immunity has faced increased scrutiny. In a number of the qualified immunity petitions, a party and/or amicus filing a brief in support of a petition asked the Court to modify or overrule qualified immunity. When the Court kept allowing more and more petitions to pile up, speculation grew that the Court would take a number of petitions at once and somehow alter, if not eliminate, the doctrine. On June 15th, the Supreme Court denied certiorari in all of the petitions. Justice Thomas filed a dissenting opinion in one of the cases. Justice Thomas reiterated his “doubts about our qualified immunity jurisprudence,” noting qualified immunity is not included in the text of the statute, which allows state and local government officials to be sued for violating the constitution.

Even though the Supreme Court has denied each of the nine petitions, Congress may take up this issue. There are two bills that would eliminate qualified immunity defenses for public entity employees (primarily focused on law enforcement and corrections officers): Justice in Policing Act and the Ending Qualified Immunity Act.


Supreme Court Review Webinar

Even though the Supreme Court decided fewer cases than usual, the 2019-20 term didn’t disappoint. Join Elbert Lin, Hunton Andrews Kurth (who argued the most significant water case in over a decade), Jeff Harris, Consovoy McCarthy (who argued an employment case), and Adam Liptak from the New York Times in a discussion of the term’s most interesting and relevant cases to states and local governments. Topics of some of the other cases covered in the webinar include DACA, abortion and “faithless electors.”

You are invited to this free webinar on Wednesday, July 29, at 1pm ET. Register here.

 

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