Saturday, July 16, 2016

Saturday at the Annual Meeting: awards, games and grants

Saturday kicked off with the annual award breakfast recognizing nine cities and seven Main Street SC programs.

“This is a celebration of hometown success stories from around the state,” said Walterboro Mayor Bill Young, president of the Municipal Association. “The awards not only celebrate the positive things in our hometowns but also let us share with each other how we are addressing the issues that face our hometowns.”

Read more about the Achievement Award winners and the Main Award Inspiration Award winners. Videos from the awards will be online next week.

Today’s breakout sessions featured trends in recreation, best practices in recruiting police officers and an update on the Freedom of Information Act.

Pokemon Go…a trend?
Ken Ayoub, the Town of Mount Pleasant’s recreation director, isn’t quite ready to starting planning around Pokemon Go, a new craze described on its website as a "location-based augmented reality mobile game."
Ken Ayoub
“Who’s playing Pokemon Go? Is that a trend or is that a flash in the pan?” It’s too early to tell, Ken told attendees at a session that ended with a series of questions and answers from the audience.

Meanwhile, Ken, who has a 40-year career in recreation, has plenty of other established trends on his radar. He listed a few of these trends in the session:

•    Non-traditional sports like pickleball, quidditch and frisbee golf
•    Nonprofits’ desire to use city facilities
•    The use of criminal background checks intended to protect children and senior citizens
•    “Mobile rec,” the idea of driving equipment into communities via a city van

The April Uptown features several articles that focus on the trends Ken talked about.

Keep it open
Danny Crowe and Tiger Wells led a session on the Freedom of Information Act and talked about recent legislative and legal changes.

Tiger reiterated to the group the importance of stating on an agenda if there is a possibility council may take a vote on an issue discussed in executive session. This change is a result of the ruling in Brock v. Town of Mount Pleasant. This recent blog post has more information on this case and other FOIA issues.  

Danny Crowe and Tiger Wells
Danny covered several issues related to email and text messages. He noted that text messages should be treated the same as email or a paper document, despite the fact that many people now consider texts to be practically the same as a spoken conversation.

Danny also reminded officials that if they are having an email exchange on a personal device and official business is being discussed, they should copy their official email account so the city has a record of it. “Consider anything electronic like you would a letter,” Danny said.

Recruiting right
Everybody knows that finding and keeping good law enforcement officers is a constant challenge for police departments.

Attorney and former police officer Jack Ryan offered attendees ways to solve that vexing problem and how to prevent bad hiring decisions.

Jack challenged attendees to ask themselves what kind of police officers they want in their departments. After all, he said, different communities may need different types of individuals patrolling their streets.

“Who you decide to recruit in Clemson may be someone totally different from who you decide to recruit in Myrtle Beach,” said Jack.

Among his other insights:

•    No fibbers. “Dishonesty in somebody’s background? Don’t hire them,” said Jack. The reason, he said, is that the officer’s record will have to be disclosed during prosecutions.
•    How fit is fit enough? Consider what kind of physical standards are truly necessary for the job and the community to be policed. “I’m not saying we should lack fitness standards,” he said. “But we’ve got to look and see what’s important to us.”
•    Recruit in unconventional places, such as churches and basketball courts.
•    Explore candidates who are leaving other professions and looking for a new start such as nurses, flight attendants and others who have people skills.
•    Find. The. Money. “We need to find the money,” said Jack. “Not a lot of money—just a little more money—because people are not going to stay in this business if they can’t feed their family.”

This June Uptown article has some additional perspectives on recruiting police officers.

Economic development grants
The Association’s Scott Slatton seemed to be a really popular guy all day today answering questions at the Resource Hub about the new Hometown Economic Development Grants. Applications are due September 30.

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