Local Government Leadership Post COVID 19 (Part I of II)

Never has local government leaders been challenged to perform as much as they have since the COVID 19 pandemic affected their economy and their community. Coronavirus has, in many communities, inspired new industries, created new careers, and revealed incompetence of many local government leaders across the nation.

Photo by Kaboompics .com on Pexels.com

These local governments face a complex and challenging future and will be responsible for developing a new tech sensitive and transparent approach to governance (and local leadership) that caters to the priorities of all community groups. This is the newly realized local leader in government, and these skills will be necessary to succeed in this post “new world”. This shift must happen in all aspects of local government services including community development, regulatory compliance, public works and public safety. By developing new strategic goals, changing public service delivery and “leaping forward” in operational effectiveness a new age in governing will emerge.

“Restorative Management” within local government is the key, and communities will have to hold their leadership responsible to choose effective governance over the potential desire of negative self-interest. Realistically, positive self- interest can be an incentive for local government administrators with career concerns in mind. This positive self-interest can be reflected in the way by which management applies their efforts; this exemplifies their self-interest in their role. Effective local governance is efficiency in the practices and procedures that maximize community safety and economic performance, and the local administrator’s self-interest should fuel this process. Effective and responsible governance provides a structure that works for the benefit of everyone concerned by ensuring that the organization adheres to community needs, ethical standards and newly developed best practices, yet negative self-destructing self interest costs lives.

About the author: Marcus Kellum, MMPA CCEA
Marcus Kellum has worked with local governments, private businesses and professional organizations across the country to train their regulatory, compliance and enforcement officers and inspectors. He spent nearly three decades in public service working with various cities and counties in Georgia, Colorado and the City of New York. He has held positions as code division manager, chief of enforcement, and department director. Marcus is a Certified Code Enforcement Administrator and holds a BS in criminal justice administration, and a master’s degree in management and public administration.

Legal, Ethical and Moral Regulatory Enforcement

Can you ever be ethical and moral and follow the law at the same time?

Photo by Sayantan Kundu on Pexels.com

Ethics and morals relate to “right” and “wrong” conduct. While they are sometimes used interchangeably, they are different, especially as they relate to code enforcement, building inspection and all other forms of regulatory enforcement. How many code officials are required to enforce rules and regulations that they do not fundamentally agree with? Instead of considering the needs of the resident, interjecting common sense into the matter, taking on a bit of personal risk on behalf of an individual and making a simple accommodation; should you just stick to the code?

Before I open that can of worms, let us clearly define some terms.

As aforementioned, ethics and morals relate to “right” and “wrong” conduct. Ethics however refers to rules provided by an external source (i.e. workplace rules), and laws of course have “enforcing authority” derived from the state or local jurisdiction (like property maintenance and building codes). A person‘s morals however refer to that individual’s own principles regarding right and wrong.

Morals and Law differ because the law demands an absolute subjection to its rules and commands; so is following the rules the safest option?

MetricOne Training and Consulting offers this class and other courses which are designed to explore these concepts in a regulatory environment, and help officers and inspectors develop practices to stay abreast of the right and wrong things to do during their daily workday.

If you are interested in the next time this course is being offered, please CLICK HERE

Please leave a comment below if you agree with the statement: “The Rules are the Rules”

Consistency in Code Enforcement—Asset or Liability?

One of the key principles of the standards known as GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Procedures) is the consistency principle. The GAAP consistency principle states that when a business has fixed a method for the accounting treatment of an item, it will enter all similar items in the exact same way in the future. Can code enforcement officers adopt a similar approach to enforcement activities?

The oxford dictionary defines consistency as “conformity in the application of something, typically that which is necessary for the sake of logic, accuracy, or fairness….The achievement of a level of performance that does not vary greatly in quality over time”; so for the purposes of this writing, I will use the working description of officer consistency (as it relates to code enforcement) as someone who handles similar situations in the same way, has the same attitudes towards people or things, or achieves the same level of success in resolving issues. With that said, is this practice productive in the regulatory code enforcement arena?

Should the community you serve expect a level of consistency from you and your code enforcement team? Should you be consistent in the quality of your work, in your reliability as a regulator and in completing (or following up) on the tasks you commit to?

Your answer should be a resounding yes!

For public service, especially regulatory enforcement, consistency is especially important. Just like a visit to your favorite restaurant results in the expectation of the same good food all the time, consistency builds reputations. In the case of enforcement, residents expect the same standards. Years of field work has shown me that each individual interaction (or each case) may be different, but the last thing people want is to be treated different than their neighbor– they want a certain level of predictability (the city gives everyone 10 days to cut their grass).  As a regulator, how do you measure your level of effectiveness if what you are measuring isn’t performed consistently?

Lastly, if you want the community you serve to know that you are serious about compliance, establishing and maintaining a level of consistency maintains your message. In other words, the best enforcement efforts will fail without a dedication to consistency.

About the Author:  Marcus Kellum, MMPA CCEA

Marcus Kellum has worked with local governments, private businesses and professional organizations across the country to train their regulatory, compliance and enforcement officers and inspectors. He spent nearly three decades in public service working with various cities and counties in Georgia, Colorado and the City of New York. He has held positions as code division manager, chief of enforcement, and department director. Marcus is a Certified Code Enforcement Administrator and holds a BS in criminal justice administration, and a master’s degree in management and public administration.

Regulatory Controls and Enforcement at Hotels, Motels and Extended Stays

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Across the nation, regulatory enforcement officers and inspectors are tasked with protecting the health, welfare, and safety of its residents (and visitors) by ensuring that codes and standards are properly enforced. In addition to property maintenance and zoning, in many communities’ officers have the responsibility of regulating the maintenance of the living conditions inside transient lodging.   

While “quality of life” is hard to define because it means different things to different people, as properly trained regulators, we know what minimum standards are; as such, regardless of whether someone lives in a 8000 square foot home or in an extended stay hotel, they have a right to a safe, sanitary living space.

It is of utmost importance however that legislators and regulators understand the actual value of these establishments in a community and accurately develop a thoughtful process to deal with potential violations. Let me be very clear, any establishment that blatantly interferes with the comfortable enjoyment of the community or maintains their property contrary to acceptable standards, should be dealt with in a manner provided by state law. Period.  

So how do regulators ensure that these properties are maintaining minimum standards, and how do they ensure the protection of the inhabitants?

  1. Understand the needs of your community:

For communities struggling with homelessness, the McKinney-Vento Act ensures that each child of a homeless individual has equal access to appropriate public education. For the purposes of this act, the definition of homelessness includes children and youth who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence. This definition specifically includes children and youth who are, in addition to other scenarios “staying in motels”. For others, the use of hotels for long-term housing is relatively inexpensive and often convenient for low-income families and older adults on fixed incomes.  

  • Use progressive public/private regulatory tools:

Establish communication with the hotel/motel community in your jurisdiction and create policies that are complementary to the common goals of the legislative body and the private hospitality sector. Regulators should operate with the goal of compliance and only use enforcement as a tool to effectuate compliance. Having a professional relationship with the owners and managers of these properties results in an easier enforcement process.

  • Have well written codes enforced by properly trained staff

Many communities understand that having a properly written ordinance is essential to the public’s interest and safety; but some miss the mark when they adopt far reaching ordinances that violate civil and constitutional rights. When enforcement officials are asked to effectuate the purposes of these ordinances, they are no longer adhering to their sworn duties. As regulators, we have a responsibility to be capable of ensuring that buildings and structures are permitted, maintained and zoned in a manner that reduces the risk to human life by fair and competent regulation.

About the author:  Marcus Kellum, MMPA CCEA

Marcus Kellum has worked with local governments, private businesses and professional organizations across the country to train their regulatory, compliance and enforcement officers and inspectors. He spent nearly three decades in public service working with various cities and counties in Georgia, Colorado and the City of New York. He has held positions as code division manager, chief of enforcement, and department director. Marcus is a Certified Code Enforcement Administrator and holds a BS in criminal justice administration, and a master’s degree in management and public administration. 

ICC Procedures for Officers and Inspectors (Virtual Class)

Photo by Christina Morillo on Pexels.com

The role of the code enforcement officer or inspector in a municipality is one of respect and confidence. This class is designed to reflect knowledge of how code enforcement officers and inspectors can integrate best practices into their service delivery. Segments of the training will include the concept of creating an “Action Register” to track important tasks and deliverables. To manage work more efficiently, the Code Enforcement Continuum will be introduced as a tool to determine the level of enforcement necessary to close the case.

This Course is in a Virtual Training Room: This type of online classroom allows you to see and hear the instructor and classroom and they will be able to see and hear you. This is not a web session with voice over. Ensure you have a dependable internet connection. Details regarding access into the Virtual Classroom will be sent to you prior to the start of the class.

LOCATIONS AND DATES:

  • Dec 08, 2020 Virtual Training Room (Central Time Zone), 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM CT – Internet Access Required

Expert Instructor: Marcus Kellum is a training and management professional with Metric One Training & Consulting based in Atlanta, GA. For over 10 years, Marcus has worked with local governments, private businesses and professional organizations to train their regulatory, compliance and enforcement officers and inspectors.

The Role of Code Enforcement During the Novel Coronavirus Pandemic

Photo by Rosemary Ketchum on Pexels.com

According to the Center for Disease Control, isolation and quarantine help protect the public by preventing exposure to people who have or may have a contagious disease. Isolation separates sick people with a quarantinable communicable disease from people who are not sick and Quarantine separates and restricts the movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick.

During your legal aspects training as a code enforcement officer, you are taught that states have police power functions to protect the health, safety, and welfare of persons within their borders. During the last several weeks, many local governments are enacting legislation to help combat Novel Coronavirus, that may include isolation and quarantine which are also “police power” functions derived from the right of the local government to take action affecting individuals for the benefit of society.

In many cities and counties, code enforcement officers (law enforcement and health officials) are being tasked with the responsibility of dealing with potential violations of newly enacted regulations regarding social distancing and/or shelter in place orders. While most recent enforcement action appear to be targeted at businesses, what happens if the situation worsens and moves towards isolation and quarantine of residents? Are code enforcement officers truly equipped, trained or ready to handle this level enforcement?

As we move into this “new norm”, we should remember that the outbreak of COVID-19 may be stressful for people. Fear and increasing anxiety in individuals subjected to the real or perceived threat of the virus can be overwhelming and cause very strong negative response and resistance to any enforcement activity; so your approach to regulating codes should be paced and calculated–In other words, take precaution, be careful, and be safe!

About the author:  Marcus Kellum, MMPA CCEA

Marcus Kellum has worked with local governments, private businesses and professional organizations across the country to train their regulatory, compliance and enforcement officers and inspectors. He spent nearly three decades in public service working with various cities and counties in Georgia, Colorado and the City of New York. He has held positions as code division manager, chief of enforcement, and department director. Marcus is a Certified Code Enforcement Administrator and holds a BS in criminal justice administration, and a master’s degree in management and public administration.  

Dealing With Difficult People Training 31st Annual AACE Conference

Code enforcement officers and regulatory officials need to understand the personalities of the people they encounter on the field (customers) in order to deal with them appropriately and to resolve problems efficiently.

This course will explore the four primary personality types and discuss how to deal with the attitudes of difficult residents you may come face to face with. As a regulator, you need to provide service in a manner that will work well with your customer’s personality type. This can sometimes be difficult, but it’s necessary. No matter how good you are at your job, you’re going to encounter difficult customers from time to time. With the right approach, even the most frustrating individual can be served with a minimal amount of stress.

OCTOBER 28TH – 30TH, 2020

Code Enforcement Fairness and Effectiveness

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Code enforcement fairness and effectiveness depends upon community respect and confidence in local government. Community cooperation with code enforcement is a product of its trust that officers will act honestly and the officer, as the public’s initial contact with the enforcement of codes and regulatory standards, must act in a manner that instills such trust. It is really all about integrity, fairness, consistency and impartiality. A program with proper leadership and dedicated staff allows these qualities to be the basis of their efforts.

As a regulator, you should be able to effectively determine a customers (resident) underlying need beyond that which is obvious or initially expressed, and proactively communicate methods to work towards compliance. Regardless of whether the resident lives in a hotel, an apartment, or in a single-family home; people deserve respect and have a right to proper living conditions in all cases. The municipality that is committed to regulatory compliance will be able to control the quality of life of the residents with an effective program that enforces codes and standards.

A Guide to Enforcing “Junk” or Inoperable Vehicle Violations

The code enforcement officer is responsible for maintaining the quality of life in a community. The fact of the matter is disorder and crime are usually inextricably linked. According to the broken windows theory, if a window in a building is broken, and is left unrepaired, all the rest of the windows will soon be broken. This is as true in upper income neighborhoods as it is in lower income neighborhoods, and the same theory applies to vehicles that are considered junk or inoperable.

In many residential communities, it is considered a nuisance and unlawful for any property owner to have a junk or inoperable vehicle located on their property. For clarification purposes, a vehicle is traditionally defined as an automobile, truck, motorcycle, motorbike, boat, trailer, or camper. Bottom line is this, if a vehicle  cannot be lawfully operated on a public street due to circumstances such as lack of current and valid state license or registration; nonexistent, insufficient or inadequate safety or other equipment required by law for legal operation, then that vehicle should be considered junk or inoperable by a code enforcement officer and qualifies as a violation. A car cover does not make the violation go away!   

If you observe a vehicle that cannot be mechanically operated due to circumstances such as an inability to start and/or operate as designed and intended due to a mechanical or physical defect or damage; deflated tires; broken or inoperable turn signals; or broken or inoperable headlights; then that vehicle should be considered junk or inoperable by a code enforcement officer.  

If this specific language is not in your code of ordinances, then you as the advocate of codes in your community should work towards amending your ordinance. Your role is to visit the location, conduct an inspection, and provide direction on how residents can come into compliance with the regulations. Enforcement is a tool and compliance is the goal!

Benefits of Well-Trained Code Enforcement Staff

Having staff that are well trained in their roles can improve a municipality’s business performance in many ways.  Staff satisfaction is very important, and if code enforcement officers are satisfied with their role, morale is increased, which in turn, increases work output. Training helps to make people more confident in their role.

  • Better training means better processes. Tasks can be performed much faster if employees know what they’re doing, and the quality of work will also improve. Mistakes are far less likely to occur if individuals have the best training for the job that they do. There is also a chance that particularly well-trained staff will be able to see where improvements could be made.
  • Well trained employees can become an asset to local government. They add value to both the municipality and the residents, and a fully trained workforce can be trusted to operate independently without making mistakes or slowing processes.

A local government with well trained code enforcement staff, strong management and enabling legislation can ensure that buildings and structures are permitted, maintained and zoned in a manner that reduces the risk to human life. This allows greater opportunity to utilize the city’s services to restore neighborhoods and address key quality of life issues pertaining to building, zoning, property maintenance, sanitation, tall grass, and blighted structures.

A commitment to training will result in many community improvements; and continuous learning develops a core of well-trained individuals who will enhance the government’s abilities beyond a level that is consistent with growth and high performance.