Breaking down language barriers to make King County accessible to all

translation-interpretationImagine not understanding public service announcements or not being able to call an information line because they are not offered in your language. It is a problem that many King County residents face and something the Office of Equity and Social Justice (ESJ) and Customer Service Officers are trying to change.

An Executive Order already requires printed public communications pieces and vital documents for broad distribution to be translated into at least Spanish, but the Office of ESJ and county agencies have been developing and implementing new ways to interact with the community and provide information.

One approach is working with ethnic media, such as the local Spanish language Univision TV channel. Unlike many other forms of journalism, ethnic media, such as in Spanish or Chinese, are growing instead of shrinking, Director of the Office of ESJ Matias Valenzuela said. Working with media can create a greater trust in King County and help non-English speaking residents access the information they need.

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New IT tool helping local law enforcement

After two years of hard work, King County Information Technology (KCIT) and the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office (PAO) launched a new system known as eLODI, or Electronic Log of Detective Input. eLODI allows law enforcement officers throughout the county to electronically submit their referrals, evidence and case documents to the PAO’s case management system, PROSECUTORbyKarpel.

One of the first to involve a Software as a Service (SaaS) vendor of this scale, eLODI was a collaboration of the PAO, Karpel Solutions, the KCIT Project Management Office (PMO), Business Analysis Group, Business Solution Services (BSS) and local law enforcement agencies. Several departments within KCIT assisted in putting together the infrastructure.

“eLODI was developed from the ground up and allows law enforcement to search for and select actual PAO data, including charges, persons, businesses and police officers to the referral,” Dennis Fong, technical project lead said.

1 eLODI search

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Dry summer means we still need to conserve more water

water shortageThink we’ve had enough rain? Think again.

That’s the message from public water utilities that continue to urge businesses, governments and residents to take aggressive measures to conserve water by 10 percent. While recent precipitation and cooler temperatures did provide some relief, the extended hot, dry weather we experienced over the summer and the lack of snowpack in the mountains continue to create serious water management challenges.

In King County, water conservation efforts are essential to maintaining water quality conditions needed to support our salmon populations. Low instream flows combined with high water temperatures cause problems for young salmon as well as adults trying to return to their home streams and rivers to spawn. Our conservation measures today can help keep water in our rivers, streams, and aquifers for people and fish.

As King County employees, we need to do our part, both at work and home.

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Four employees spotlighted in The Seattle Times’ Women in the Trades feature

Women in the Trades portrait seriesFour King County employees were featured in The Seattle Times’ portrait series “Women in the Trades,” a look into Puget Sound’s hardworking women.

Mari Jane Friel (pictured right) and Liesel Brus with Road Services Division, and Kate Osborn and  Stacey Walker with Wastewater Treatment Division, spoke about their jobs in what have been traditionally male fields, and what they love about their work.

“I love what I do,’’ Friel, a laborer with Road Services Division, said. “It’s something different every day.”

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Kudos! David Yoshizumi, Senior Animal Control Officer, Regional Animal Services of King County

Hello Tim and Gene,

We had a recent experience with one of your Field Agents who services Carnation, WA.  I do not have his card in front of me, but I wanted to pass on my deep appreciation for the service he provided to us!!

Our situation was that an elderly neighbor had left their cat (healthy and older) with us when they sold their home and went to assisted living.  The cat was an outdoor cat with a “friend” who hung around with him who was quite sickly.  Like the neighbor couple, we felt sorry for the sickly guy and were feeding him, but it was quite evident that nobody was looking after him, so he was a stray.

This cat was bloated and sickly and moving along very slowly.  He was most likely 10-15 years old, but we aren’t sure.  We decided that we needed to call Animal Control because the animal appeared to be ailing and unable to continue to care for himself and we were concerned about his safety.  We also didn’t know if he might get the other cat or other animals sick.

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Restorative Mediation making a difference for youth

Earlier this year, Juvenile Court implemented a Restorative Mediation Pilot option for youth in diversion. The pilot has since expanded beyond diversion and is now available to adjudicated youth. It provides youth with the opportunity to reduce time on supervision or in place of court-ordered community service hours.

Restorative Mediation is an opportunity for an offender to have a facilitated conversation with the victim, giving the victim an opportunity to express how the event affected him/her, to provide space for understanding what took place for both parties, and to restore relationships that were harmed as a result of the offense.

During the first week of August, the first restorative mediation was held at Juvenile Court and was more successful than anyone could have expected. The offense at the center of this first mediation was a Theft 3; the youth had shoplifted from a neighborhood supermarket. Participants at the mediation included the youth, two of the youth’s family members, two representatives from the supermarket, a mediator from the KC Office of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), a youth co-facilitator from Garfield High School, and two selected community representatives.

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Women in Trades: King County Road Services

Mari Jane Friel | Photo by Bettina Hansen, The Seattle Times

Mari Jane Friel is up to her knees in mud as dark as chocolate cake and smiling broadly.

“I love what I do,’’ she says. “It’s something different every day.”

Friel, 58, a laborer with King County’s Road Services Division 2, previously worked in corrections and as a chef in downtown Seattle. Her first day on the job, she was assigned to dig a ditch.

Today, she’s wielding a shovel and a siphon to clear a drainage ditch of mud and weeds so that salmon can pass through during the rainy season. It doesn’t matter if it’s raining, snowing or hotter than a diesel engine: the crew works in all weather.

“Some days, you’re sore, using different muscles than usual,’’ she says.

Friel grew up on a farm, and occupied herself with Girl Scouts and riding horses.

There are a few other women on the job, but most of the time, it’s her and “the boys.”

“My husband says, ‘Men are like magazine covers. Women are like “War and Peace.”‘ I tell it like it is, and I appreciate the same.”

Mari Jane Friel was featured in The Seattle Times story Women in the Trades

Metro Transit names Operator, Vehicle Maintenance Employees of the Year

Metro Transit employees John Boone and Ryan Stringfellow were recently honored with the Operator and Vehicle Maintenance Employee of the Year awards.

John Boone (middle), named Metro's 2014 Transit Operator of the Year

John Boone (middle), named Metro’s 2014 Transit Operator of the Year

Bellevue Base operator John Boone was honored on June 24 as Metro’s 2014 Transit Operator of the Year. At the surprise ceremony, held in the East Base Vehicle Maintenance bay, he was interviewed by local TV outlets before being escorted on stage. Boone was chosen by his fellow 2014 Operators of the Month because of his long and excellent record of providing high-quality customer service to his riders. One of his satisfied customers urged us to “Hire more drivers like him.” Another said, “He had lots of info for people new in the area and is just a great, great guy with a positive attitude.”

Boone has earned a 34-year safe driving award, has received 35 commendations, and has been named Operator of the Month numerous times. Outside of work, he volunteers at the hydroplane races and the Unlimited Hydroplane and Race Boat Museum, and is a diehard Seahawks fan. In fact, he was the driving force behind Metro’s “Blue Friday” tradition, which permits Metro employees to wear Seahawks attire during a playoff season. So perhaps his favorite trophy of the day was a Seahawks jersey emblazoned across the back with “Op of the Year,” presented to him by Supervisor Rickey Moore and Acting Superintendent Ramona Dudley-Moore.

At a Hawaiian-themed celebration on May 27, North Base Superintendent of Vehicle Maintenance Elie Kourdahi named Ryan Stringfellow (on left in photo) as VM’s 2015 Employee of the Year. Speakers praised Stringfellow for his many achievements, including leading Metro’s maintenance roadeo teams to multiple wins at the local, state, and national levels. Stringfellow also racked up several first-place finishes in the non-operator Maverick Division of Metro’s Metroadeo driving competitions.

Ryan Stringfellow (left) receives Vehicle Maintenance's 2015 Employee of the Year from Rob Cannon (right)

Ryan Stringfellow (left) receives Vehicle Maintenance’s 2015 Employee of the Year from Rob Cannon (right)

He was first on the scene at two accidents near North Base, and received the Governor’s lifesaving award for his actions at one of them. As his lei-clad family members looked on, Stringfellow received a congratulatory banner from Kourdahi, a plaque from county Transportation Director Harold Taniguchi, a mockup of a sign to be placed on Metro buses from Deputy General Manager of Employee and Internal Services Rob Gannon, a certificate for a paid day off from VM Manager Randy Winders, and a personalized sign for a well-earned reserved parking spot from VM Assistant Manager John Alley.

CASA program needs volunteers

Each year in King County, more than 12,000 children are separated from their families due to abuse or neglect. With the support of foster programs, many of the children are placed in foster care for the time being their parents are in court. But who represents the children in court?

Court Appointed Special Advocates are trained volunteers who represent the children and their best interests during the legal process.

“We say that a CASA is the voice of the child,” Pamela Beatty, a CASA volunteer said. “We do the speaking for the children. We have heard the children, we have talked to the children, we’ve visited their schools, we’ve talked to their families and we get a sense of what is going to be best for the child in the long run.

But CASA is facing a problem – a shortage of volunteers. In King County, there can be upwards of 300 kids waiting to be matched with a CASA volunteer. The program especially needs volunteers from diverse communities, and male volunteers to be role models. Watch a short KCTV video to learn more.

Going mobile to manage hazardous waste

How can King County keep dangerous, hazardous materials from finding their way into landfills and the environment? One solution is the Local Hazardous Waste Management Program’s Wastemobile.

Rather than a fleet of vehicles driving to various locations in King County, each “wastemobile” is a temporary tent location set up on the weekends, usually in parking lots of businesses or schools, where small businesses and home owners can bring their hazardous waste to be properly disposed of.

“A little hazardous waste in the environment goes a long way and is very bad for human health and the health of the environment,” Julie Mitchell said. “Any time I can do something to keep the public safe, it is a good feeling.”


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