It isn’t typical for pools to be in the news, so it’s worth taking notice when they are.
Although two recent stories are quite different from each other, their common thread is that pool governance was highlighted in a public forum. Given how quickly news spreads in today’s media environment, what happens in one pool can sometimes raise questions in the broader pooling universe – even if borne out of misinterpretation.
Therefore, it’s useful to know when there is news coverage about pool governance or operations and to consider your own pooling practices in light of these media dynamics.
A story about pool governance in Iowa was picked up last week by The Associated Press and rapidly disseminated through news outlets across the country. The story criticizes the Iowa Communities Assurance Pool (ICAP) for its meeting practices and governing body travel expenditures.
ICAP reiterates its stewardship on behalf of members in a September 18, 2019, open letter outlining open meeting and expense practices. ICAP routinely shares its meeting agendas, meeting minutes, Annual Report, policies and disbursements with its members via its website.
Another story involves two pool boards claiming to represent the League Association of Risk Management (LARM). When a Nebraska District Court judge ruled one of the boards was “unlawfully holding and exercising office,” that board was ousted immediately for not complying with LARM's interlocal agreement. A few weeks later, the same judge struck down governance changes made by that ousted board that also did not comply with the same interlocal agreement. To make determinations about board governance, the Court had to review and interpret LARM’s foundational documents and statutory authorities. All litigation relating to the matter is now closed.
In addition to being mindful about how media coverage about one pool might have a cascading impact, all pools are encouraged to regularly re-examine governance documents, board member selection processes, expense policies, related day-to-day practices, etc.
One way your pool can do this is through AGRiP’s Advisory Standards for Recognition. Developed by longtime pooling experts on our Membership Practices Committee, the Advisory Standards are a comprehensive set of guidelines for pooling governance, operations, coverage and more.
Refer to the Standards as a framework to examine current practices and procedures. Additionally, any pool that meets the Standards can apply for Recognition, an extensive examination process that validates a pool is operating at a highly effective level.
(Although it didn’t make the news, another pool governance dispute is being appealed to the Michigan Supreme Court. The case involves governance issues such as ownership of surplus equity and member withdrawal.)