It’s in the mail: Look for Open Enrollment information

Check your home mailbox for important benefits and Open Enrollment information mailed recently to the address you have listed in PeopleSoft. Open Enrollment takes place Nov. 1 – 15 and is your opportunity to:

  • Enroll in a Flexible Spending Account—Health Care and Dependent Day Care FSAs reduce your taxable income—saving you money. You must re-enroll every year during Open Enrollment. The Health Care FSA maximum contribution for 2020 is $2,700.
  • Select the appropriate Benefit Access Fee—or exemption. If you cover a spouse or domestic partner on your medical plan, a Benefit Access Fee may be automatically applied, depending on your benefit group and the plan you choose. If you qualify for an exemption, you must confirm this each year during Open Enrollment. If no action is taken during Open Enrollment and you later determine that you qualified for an exemption, fees already deducted will not be refunded.
  • Change medical plans—Use the Plan Comparison Charts and other resources on the Medical plans page to consider whether Kaiser SmartCare or KingCare Select (Regence) makes sense for your family. These plans will likely save you money, with lower deductibles, copays, and Benefit Access Fees. The KingCare (Regence) plan is also still available. Note: KingCare Select is not available to Deputy Sheriff/PSPMA and TEA-DOT employees.
  • Give—Contribute to your favorite nonprofit in the Employee Giving Program during the Annual Giving Drive. Pledges must be renewed each year. Your donations to the nonprofits you selected do not automatically roll over.

What if you don’t participate in Open Enrollment?

  • You will remain enrolled in your current medical plan.
  • The Benefit Access Fee associated with your medical plan and benefit group will be automatically applied if you cover your spouse or domestic partner.
  • You will not be enrolled in a Flexible Spending Account.
  • Your other benefit choices will remain the same for next year.

Learn more at Benefits & Retirement Fair

Learn more about your benefits and retirement options at the Benefits & Retirement Fair:

  • Oct. 16, 9 a.m.–3 p.m. Renton Elections, Alvine Room, 919 SW Grady Way, Renton

Get in-person Open Enrollment help

If you would like assistance with Open Enrollment, stop by one of the following help sessions in the Chinook Building, 401 Fifth Ave., 2nd Floor, Seattle.

  • Nov. 6: 9 a.m.–4 p.m., Mimosa Room 222
  • Nov. 13: 11 a.m.–4 p.m., Mimosa Room 222
  • Nov. 15: 9 a.m.–4 p.m., Rhododendron Room 233

For more Open Enrollment and benefits information:

  • www.kingcounty.gov/Open-Enrollment
  • Benefits, Payroll and Retirement Operations Chinook Building, 401 Fifth Ave., 2nd Floor, Seattle
  • Call 206-684-1556 or email KC Benefits
  • 9 a.m. – 4 p.m., Monday – Friday (closed Veterans Day, Nov. 11)

2019 Annual Giving Drive: Spotlight on nonprofits supporting the Latinx community 

King County’s Annual Giving Drive Program started October 7, and almost 1,200 nonprofits are taking part this year. Throughout this year’s drive, we’ll be featuring four nonprofits in different categories. To honor Hispanic and Latinx Heritage Month at King County, we’ve highlighted four nonprofits that support and advance the rights of our Latinx and Hispanic Community.

  • Casa Latina (9307) 317 17th Ave S. Seattle, WA 98144 – Empowers Latinx/Hispanic immigrants through employment, education, and community organizing – toward full participation of the Latinx/Hispanic community in the economy and democracy of the U.S.
  • Soccer Without Borders Seattle (9968) 600 1st Ave, Seattle WA 98104 – The foundation has team-based soccer and educational programing for newcomer immigrant and refugee youth, so they can be successful on and off the field.
  • Latino Community Fund Washington State (9652) 68 S. Washington St. Seattle, WA 98104 – Cultivating new leaders, supporting cultural and community based nonprofit organizations, and have civically engaged Latinx/Hispanic communities in Washington.
  • Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (9260) 615 2nd Avenue, Suite 400 Seattle, WA 98104 – A nonprofit that promotes justice by defending and advancing the rights of immigrants through legal services, systemic advocacy, and community education.

All these nonprofits focus on systemic advocacy, with legal and educational services for the Latinx and Hispanic Communities. With various nonprofits participating this year, the Employee Giving Drive Program offers employees the option to participate in a nonprofit expo online or in person, making it more inclusive. Don’t forget to also download a Giving Passport, which once you complete, you can be entered for a chance to win a prize. For more information, a list of participating nonprofits or if you would simply like to donate, visit the Employee Giving Campaign Annual Drive Nonprofit Search Directory. Happy Giving!

Fair and Just Prosecution Fellow Joseph Ludmir shares his summer experience at the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office 

This summer, the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office welcomed Joseph Ludmir, a rising second year law student from Los Angeles, as a resident Fellow with the national Fair and Just Prosecution Program. The program places outstanding law students in the “most inspiring elected prosecutors’ offices around the country,” an honor Seattle shares with Philadelphia, Brooklyn and Boston.  

Summer fellows are defined by their interest criminal justice reform and their ability to bridge the gap between the classroom theories and on-the-ground work. 

Working primarily with Deputy Chief of Staff Carla Lee and Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Ben Santos, Joseph said the experience has been transformational. 

“These are programs and approaches that don’t exist in a lot of places right now,” said Ludmir. What he learns here, he takes back to the University of Chicago Law School. 

He says he learned that everyone has a different idea of justice and how to make it work. It varies across city lines, state lines, and communities, and the younger generation believes in a more restorative approach. “We post things, we share things. But it’s much easier to talk about a world where everything is equitable and people get justice served both through the court systems and through rehabilitation post-conviction. I’m here to see how to make that happen.” 

Joseph has been reviewing convictions, gathering data and looking for patterns. Joseph’s top takeaways: 

  • Prosecutors have a difficult job. They have to uphold justice because they represent people and the state, but they also defend life and freedom. Balancing those interests is difficult and hard to explain. 
  • Trials are nothing like they are on TV. Rarely is there a star witnesses or breakout moment. Testimony and evidence can be murky and confusing.  
  • Good attorneys tell compelling stories that juries can follow easily.  

Ultimately, he’s grateful to Carla and Ben for giving him meaningful work digging deep into convictions and other cases and having long discussions about the future of justice and the role his generation will play.  

King County PAO has participated in the Fellowship two years in a row. Dan Satterberg is a member of the six member FJP Advisory Board. Based on our positive experience with Joseph and others, the PAO will to continue to participate in the program.  

Pictured: Left to right, Zoe Fielder and Marissa Madrazo, Legal Assistant ll’s, Deputy Chief of Staff Carla Lee, Chief of Staff Leesa Manion, Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg, and Fellow Joseph Ludmir.

Five questions with Brendan McCluskey, Director of the King County Office of Emergency Management 

Why did you start in your role with King County, and what is your official title?

I am the Director of the King County Office of Emergency Management. I started with King County March 2019. I came to the County from New Jersey, where I was the State’s Director of Public Health Preparedness. Previously, I had been the Deputy State Emergency Management Director for Maryland. I also participate as a volunteer assessor and assessment team leader for the Emergency Management Accreditation Program (EMAP). King County is an accredited emergency management program, and I served as the team leader for the week-long on-site accreditation assessment in 2017. I became familiar with the program then, and when the position opened in late 2018, I decided to apply.

What do you do in your role?

I lead a team that is responsible for emergency preparedness throughout King County, including county agencies, partner cities and jurisdictions, other entities, the private sector, and the public. I also lead the County’s efforts during emergency operations, coordinating within and outside of the County at all government levels, including with the private sector. What this means is that during non-emergency times, me and my team work on emergency plans, assess risk of natural and human-caused hazards, develop capabilities to deal with the various threats and hazards, train responders and the public, test and exercise our plans and equipment, and then go back and revise and update based on the lessons we learn. During emergencies, my team and I staff the County’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC), where coordination of the response to and recovery from the emergency takes place.

Why did you choose this field as your career?

I think it was accidental.  I started as a volunteer Emergency Medical Technician in New Jersey when I was 16 years old, and eventually became a professional paramedic in an urban environment. I then trained on and became involved in specialized responses, such as hazardous materials releases, urban search and rescue, and mass casualty events. As I was promoted within the Emergency Medical Services department, I gained more responsibility for some of these areas, and was looked upon for my expertise. It was a natural progression from there to the field of emergency management, and the rest is history, as they say.

What is the biggest challenge of your job?

The biggest challenge is staying updated on trends, best practices, and innovations in the field. Emergency Management is a relatively young field, and much has changed even in the short time it has been a profession. Keeping an open mind and being receptive to collaboration are the keys to staying ahead in this field.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

I have a great team, so being able to work with them on a daily basis is what I most enjoy. I want to be sure to let you know this team includes the other staff members at KC OEM, and it also includes partners in DES and King County Government, the cities, and other emergency management professionals throughout Washington (and the rest of the country).

Revamped dock at Pier 50 offers new accessibility features 

It took two years for a full rebuild, but as of August 2019, the new passenger-only ferry dock at Pier 50 has reopened, to include Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) improvements for those with mobility issues. Travelers taking regional ferry service to West Seattle, Vashon, Bremerton and Kingston can now wait under a fully-covered dock with inside seating. A tactile path and tactile signs also guide the way forward to the boat and a new ADA assistance station. 

The new dock even includes an elevator that will connect to a new pedestrian bridge for the Washington State Ferry terminal and restrooms. 

Though a tactile path can often look ornamental, each shape of the tile can tell a story for those who are blind or visually impaired. The straight “along” lines on the ferry’s path indicate that it is safe to go forward. The tiles begin at Alaska Way entrance and continue to the office within the terminal. There are plans to continue the pavers through the Marion Street overpass to be in place by 2023.  

Once inside the new facility, brail signage can be used to locate a dedicated “mobility assistance station” for information. With the press of a button, a light comes on and staff from the office or vessel crews can provide assistance.  

The new dock also has a float built to accommodate varying ramp angles to make it easier to board. Once aboard, the vessels have plenty of room to maneuver and ADA restrooms that can accommodate a wheelchair. 

Later this summer, the facility also will feature an observation platform overlooking the bay at the west end.   

The new facility has capacity to hold up to 500 people with large garage-style doors that can be opened or closed depending on the weather. 

From King County Elections Director Julie Wise: Volunteer to be a Ballot Drop Box Closer for Nov. 5

Dear Colleagues,

The General Election is coming up fast and we need your help to make the experience of voting fun and simple for our neighbors and constituents. Across our county, all ballot drop boxes close at 8 p.m. on Election Night. This election, we’re looking for over 100 volunteers to provide any assistance voters need to ensure their ballot gets cast and their vote gets counted.

Who: You and your co-workers!

What: Closing ballot drop boxes across King County

When: Election Night – Nov. 5 from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.

Where: You pick! There are over 60 locations to choose from.

Our team here at King County Elections is working around the clock to get ready for this year’s General – prepping ballots, updating voter registrations, conducting quality checks – and we need you to help us finish strong! Closing drop boxes is a fun and easy way to meet your neighbors and the communities that we serve here in King County, while making sure that every voice is heard.

Sign up and join us for a fun and fulfilling experience helping your neighbors experience the excitement and community of casting their ballots.

You’ll be partnered with Elections staff and no experience is necessary – we provide all the training you need!

Our colleagues who joined us for the August primary described their experience as rewarding, fun, inspiring, energizing, and more! Join the fun this fall by signing up to help with the Primary Election on Nov. 5, 2019 from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.

Have questions? Learn more here.

Thanks and happy voting!

Discount to Summit at Snoqualmie 

Discounts for the Summit at Snoqualmie 2019-2020 Season Pass are now available. To take advantage of the King County Discount for Unlimited pass (covering adult, young adult, teenyouth, child, senior, and super senior) and Limited (covering adult, young adult, teen, youth, and senior) season passes follow these online instructions. The deepest discounts will be available until Nov. 6. The season pass sale will end Jan. 8, 2020. For more information about rates and discounts for the Summit at Snoqualmie 2019-2020 season, view this flyer or email summitstore@summiti90.com 

View all available discounts at www.kingcounty.gov/employeediscounts. 

Training Spotlight: Facilitating Effective Meetings

Facilitating Effective Meetings, Nov. 14:  A common challenge faced by individuals in business is how to lead and facilitating meetings that are interesting and solicit active engagement. This one day training covers the skills used by a facilitator to design and run an effective meeting. How to be a better participant is also discussed. Topics include specific facilitation skills, group decision making skills, and how to deal with disruptive behaviors. 

View more training and development opportunities at www.kingcounty.gov/learning. 

Featured Job: Animal Care Technician 

Salary: $19.90 – $25.22 Hourly 

Location: Kent, WA 

Job Type: Multiple job types-career service and/or temp 

Department: DES – Executive Services 

Job Number: 2019SG10680 

Closing: 10/13/2019 11:59 PM Pacific 

Learn more about this position or view all available positions. 

Pet of the Week: Priscilla 

Priscilla is a 7 year-old, female, shorthair, gray tabby cat (A591804). Her personality color is GREEN, meaning she is an adaptable cat who loves to go with the flow. This sweet girl can be a little shy in new situations, but it doesn’t take her long to get comfortable and show you what a sweetie pie she is! 

Read more at www.kingcounty.gov/adoptapet.