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The Imperial Valley Press claims that past behavior of City Council members of the city of Calexico has put the city in some hot water with the California Joint Powers Insurance Authority, which issued the city a warning letter earlier this year.

The California Joint Powers Insurance Authority is an organization that provides members with coverage such as liability protection, a workers’ compensation program, property insurance program and more.

In a letter to City Manager Oscar Rodriquez, California JPIA Assistant Executive Officer Norman A. Lefmann wrote, “It has come to our attention that members of the City Council may be inserting themselves into the interactive process for workers’ compensation claims which is inconsistent with good governance.”

The California JPIA periodically reviews members’ risk management practices as part of the authority’s Loss Control Action Plan program. The city was evaluated in June 2009 and the action plan was presented in March 2010. However, “the city has made very little effort in reducing the number of action items,” Lefmann wrote in the letter.

“We believe that good governance is about the City Council largely being policy setting in terms of their actions and concerns and to leave it to the city administration to manage the affairs of the operations, including hiring and firing employees, reviews of workers compensation injuries, how they respond to claims, etc,” Lefmann explained. He did not cite any particular City Council member or specific action but said “when we see that the City Council is interfering with best practices and recruiting a police chief and creating potential divisiveness on who might replace the police chief,” there’s “another concern as potential claims may arise.”

The hiring of Police Chief Pompeyo Tabarez earlier this year was the end of a controversial hiring process that in many ways further divided the council.

Lefmann did say that the city has generally made a good effort to respond to the issues brought up and the city and the California JPIA is moving ahead to work more closely to address these kinds of concerns. Mayor Bill Hodge said Rodriquez has informed the council of the situation and “it has happened because of a series of incidents.”

He specifically cited “a lot of workman’s compensation claims” and the sexual harassment claims filed by council member Maritza Hurtado against councilmen Luis Castro, Joong Kim and Hodge. He said he was “surprised” by the reference to the police chief selection process. “It was an option for us as council people to participate in selection of a new chief which we did but they’re citing that also,” he said.

California JPIA representatives will be meeting with City Council members individually, he said, but added that he’s “not exactly sure what plans are to be carried out.”