Pipeline Safety Reminder

Courtesy of Consumers Energy.

Courtesy of Consumers Energy.

Twenty-eight of Washington’s 39 counties have large-diameter transmission pipelines within their jurisdiction. Over 110 cities and towns in Washington have major transmission pipelines either within their jurisdiction or within one mile of their boundaries. See our webpage on Washington Counties, Cities and Towns with Interstate Pipelines. These major pipelines are transporting either natural gas or hazardous liquids (such as crude oil, gasoline, or jet fuel) at high pressure. This post is intended as a reminder about safety issues involved with these pipelines. Continue reading

Posted in Best Practices, Energy and Environment, Legal, Planning, Public Safety | 1 Comment

Emerging Issue: Police Body Cameras in Washington State

14791866078_1a815ee431_o (police body worn cameras)

Police body cameras have surged in popularity. Photo courtesy of West Midlands Police.

The recent fatal shooting of the unarmed black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, has greatly accelerated an already growing interest in the use of police body-worn cameras across the country and in several Washington communities.

These officer-activated cameras, which are small enough to clip to the officer’s uniform or sunglasses, can record audio and video of police interactions with the public, providing a record of events that goes well beyond the limited view provided by the more familiar dash-mounted vehicle cameras. But what are the benefits, and what have police departments done in Washington?

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After 41 Years, Senior Research Consultant Lynne De Merritt Is Retiring

LynneExecutive Director’s note: This month marks the retirement of Lynne De Merritt, Senior Research Consultant at MRSC. Lynne is the quintessential researcher – she’s tracked down the answers to the most mind-bending and complicated questions ever posed by local governments. We will sorely miss her tenacity, her outstanding work, her enduring dedication to MRSC, and her inimitable style. The following are her reflections on a remarkable career. – Tracy Burrows

Forty-one years, four months, and 15 days – where did the time go? I first arrived at MRSC in June 1973, four years after it succeeded the University of Washington Bureau of Governmental Research. Armed with master’s degrees in political science and library science, it was my job to reorganize the library, develop the collection, and provide reference services. Continue reading

Posted in General | 2 Comments

New MRSC Webpage Showcasing OPMA and PRA Practice Tips

PRA starting pointDuring my ten years as Shoreline assistant city attorney, I faced constant questions from staff and officials on the Public Records Act (PRA) and Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA). Two of my go-to resources for these questions were MRSC’s PRA and OPMA publications, both of which I found to be thorough and helpful. Now, MRSC, in partnership with the State Auditor’s Office (SAO) Local Government Performance Center, has developed even more resources on these two laws, all of which are available on the MRSC website: OPMA and PRA Checklists and Practice Tips. Continue reading

Posted in Legal, Open Meetings, Public Records | Leave a comment

Residency Requirements for City Employees – Is That OK?

A question we’re asked fairly often is whether a city may require that its employees reside within its jurisdiction?  The answer is that it depends on the form of government the city has and on which employees the requirement would apply to. Continue reading

Posted in Legal, Personnel | 2 Comments

Employee Satisfaction Pays

bigstock-Team-Of-Colleagues-Reaches-The-13986965This report on a recent CBS Sunday Morning broadcast offers more evidence in support of the proposition I made in a previous MRSC Insight blog post, Employee Satisfaction: What Goes Around Comes Around, that satisfied employees are good for your organization. In that post I described how dissatisfied employees negatively affect customer service and therefore your organization’s bottom line, whether it is reflected in its fiscal condition or in the case of public institutions, public support. This CBS Sunday Morning feature shares long-term research by Fortune magazine that demonstrates the inverse: the positive effect derived from satisfied employees. According to their research, the companies ranked as “best to work for” consistently outperform the S&P 500 and the Russell 3000 by a factor of nearly 2 to 1! Continue reading

Posted in Governance, Leadership, Management, Personnel, Policy | Leave a comment

What Makes A Successful Ballot Measure? A Look at the Data

LBMD-350Since 2011, MRSC has collected data on the results of all ballot measures placed on the ballot by cities, counties, and the special districts we serve.  A review of the results of over 600 measures in our searchable ballot measure database shows some very interesting trends.  73% of all ballot measures succeed, but that only tells part of the story. Continue reading

Posted in Best Practices, Elections, Governance | Leave a comment