Metro Transit Operator helps Return Stolen Bike

InTransit_1401JanFeb[1]After Beth Gunn’s bicycle was stolen, she was astonished to see it heading toward her on the street—in the bike rack on the front of a D-Line bus. She stopped the bus and told the driver that her stolen bike was in his rack. That driver was Matt Leber (AKA VeloBusDriver), a fellow bike commuter and bike-transit blogger.

While they spoke, a couple of passengers left the bus through the rear doors. When Leber asked the remaining passengers who owned the bike on the front of the bus, no one answered. After Gunn provided a copy of her police report and a photo of her bike, a Metro supervisor allowed her to claim her property. For the full story of this happy reunion, see the Seattle Bike Blog.

Beth Gunn, left, celebrates the return of her stolen bike with Matt Leber (photo courtesy of Seattle Bike Blog).

Wastewater Treatment Division’s Mr. Fix-it

Stanley1When Stanley Caberto (left) gets a work order to fix equipment, the first question he asks is “What’s causing this equipment to break down?” – because he knows from experience that he can do more than just replace a part – he can find a permanent fix.

While it’s the treatment plants that often get the most attention, Wastewater Treatment Division (WTD) has dozens of offsite facilities that need the same operations and maintenance that the plants do – including 25 regulator stations, 47 pump stations, and over 40 combined sewer outfalls and CSO treatment facilities. Offsite maintenance mechanics help keep everything running – including some pumps and process equipment that have been around since the system was formed in the 1960s – which often means creative solutions.

“These guys can’t just go down to Home Depot to get parts,” notes John Bowen, lead industrial machinist / mechanic.




Stanley installing a gear guard around the red fins on a pump.

Mechanics like Stanley often invent and machine parts they need to complete a job. Plus, because their work sites are spread out all over the system, they have to manage their time and priorities well – and often create solutions that can be done by one back and two hands.

A few of Stanley’s innovative designs:

  • Made of lightweight but strong aluminum – and just big enough to fit through the door, the “Carbon Launcher” is a hopper device that funnels the carbon needed for odor control into the vessels – eliminating the need for a crane, as well as the dust that the carbon delivery dumping used to create.
  • An alignment tool that can be used by one mechanic to align a heavy motor and pump within a 1000th of an inch – moving them incrementally in any direction for adjustments.
  • Plexiglass gear guards and fins on pump bearings at Lake Ballinger Pump Station use the spinning motion of the shafts themselves to funnel air and cool the equipment like the blades on a fan. This “self-cooling” improvement has resulted in far fewer equipment shutdowns – which means a lot of time saved for operators.

Stanley’s work is certainly appreciated by his coworkers, who are happy that his good work is being highlighted, but also nervous that other work groups would try to recruit him away.

As for Stanley, he likes where he works. “I like that I’m not working in one place all day, the freedom I’m given to come up with solutions, and the people are like family.”

Five Questions with Adrienne Quinn, Director, Department of Community and Human Services

Adrienne_Quinn1. What are your main responsibilities as Director of DCHS?As director, I lead our strategic planning and program development, an effort that engages and involves not just our talented King County staff, but partners at the federal, state, county and local levels as well as social service agencies, philanthropy, business, advocates and more. I oversee a budget of about $350 million and 295 employees. As a department, we work with regional partners to plan, fund, contract for or directly provide a wide range of services. These include alcohol and drug prevention and treatment, mental health treatment, homeless assistance, housing and community development, employment and education programs, developmental disabilities services and services for veterans, older adults, and survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. We also host the Committee to End Homelessness and oversee regional plans and efforts to end homelessness.

2. What do you like most about your job? An easy question: it is the great staff I have to work with! I have only been here a few months, but I already know that I am incredibly fortunate to work with so many talented and creative people absolutely committed to the work that we do and the people in the community we serve. It is inspiring.

3. What is the biggest challenge in your job? The County Executive spoke to our biggest challenge in his State of the County speech: building equity and opportunity. Where you live in King County, how much money you make, and the color of your skin impact not just the quality of your life, but your life expectancy. That is not acceptable. Building equity and opportunity means that all our residents can find safe and stable housing, access affordable and quality health care, and have the means to earn a living wage. Inequities across our population do not just hurt those left behind. It diminishes the quality of life for all. The biggest challenge for DCHS is to make the Executive’s vision of equity “real” and particularly for those who are the most vulnerable. We will do that as we work to improve access to recovery-focused mental health and substance abuse treatment, as we build affordable housing, as we address homelessness through innovations like rapid rehousing, and as we improve our education and employment programs to help people achieve self-sufficiency. Working to ensure that every resident has the opportunity to achieve his or her full potential is a big challenge, but one that the staff of DCHS is anxious to tackle.

4. As a relatively new employee, what has surprised you most about the County? I think it would be the range and depth of programs and services provided by the Department of Community and Human Services! In the City of Seattle, responsibility for housing, community development, human services, workforce training, early child development and family supports are coordinated by no less than four separate departments – Office of Housing, Office of Economic Development, Office for Education and the Department of Human Services. In DCHS, we do all that AND mental health and chemical dependency treatment! What is really exciting is that, across the department, there is non-stop energy and commitment to identifying and exploring best and promising practices and that keeps the work interesting.

5. What is your main goal for 2014? Countywide, we are looking to transform the coordination and delivery of health and human services. Transformation begins in DCHS. We are focusing strong efforts on improving the integration of services across our three divisions, beginning with employment and education programs. We have programs dedicated to helping people with developmental disabilities enter the workforce; programs for people recovering from mental illness and chemical dependency; programs for people returning to the workforce from jail and prison; programs for homeless people; education and training programs for at-risk youth; and re-training to prepare dislocated workers and veterans for new careers. What are the best lessons from each and how might they be applied from one program to another? How might we combine or coordinate better across our divisions to serve more people with greater efficiency and better outcomes? Beginning with employment, and then looking at other lines of our business, we will seek to increase our cross system collaboration. As we improve and strengthen connections to those services, we move closer to the goal of providing equitable opportunities for people to be healthy, happy, self-reliant and connected to community. Our efforts will be an important building block for what we want to accomplish as we join with Public Health and our regional partners to integrate and transform health and human services for the future.

Employees Help Executive raise 12th Man Flag

More than 100 employees joined Executive Constantine for a ceremony to raise the 12th Man Flag at the Administration Building plaza last Thursday, Jan. 17, and guess what? It worked – again!

Executive Constantine led employees in a spirited Seahawks cheer as he as he hoisted the 12th Man Flag at precisely 12:12 p.m. Three days later, the Seahawks were headed to Super Bowl XLVIII. Go ‘Hawks!

Exec 12th Man

Five Questions with Corinna Harn, Chief Presiding Judge, King County District Court

Corinna Harn1. When were you first elected to King County District Court and when did you become Chief Presiding Judge?  

I began serving as a Pro Tem Judge for the King County District Court in 1991. I was elected to the District Court in 1998 for the term beginning in January 1999. I have been elected by my judicial colleagues as the Chief Presiding Judge four times, most recently in 2012 for a two-year term beginning in 2013.

2. What legal matters is District Court responsible for?

King County District Court is the largest court of limited jurisdiction in the State of Washington and handles approximately 225,000 new cases each year. As a court of limited jurisdiction, the District Court is responsible for Civil Litigation matters up to $75,000, Small Claims matters up to $5000, Nuisance Violations, False Alarm hearings, Vehicle Tow and Impound hearings, Anti-harassment Orders, Domestic Violence Protection Orders, Stalking Protection Orders, Name Changes, Infractions (traffic, non-traffic and parking), Misdemeanor and Gross Misdemeanor criminal cases, Felony Expedited cases, Felony Preliminary hearings, Search Warrants, Garnishments and other Supplemental Proceedings, Lien Foreclosure and Forfeiture hearings, and Death Inquests.

King County District Court provides municipal court services to 13 cities in King County. It has court facilities throughout the County including Bellevue, Issaquah, Redmond, Shoreline, Seattle, Burien, Kent, Auburn and Vashon Island.

3. What do you like most about your job?

I really appreciate the opportunity to work together with District Court’s group of dedicated professionals in providing fair and efficient justice for all of King County. As the Presiding Judge, it is a wonderful opportunity to work with leaders throughout the County and State to improve the criminal justice system.

4. How will the recently-remodeled MRJC help us serve County residents better?  

With the opening of the five District Court courtrooms and the District Court clerk’s office, King County has enhanced the vision and mission of providing a full-service “Regional” Justice Center for South King County. This highly functional and efficient facility brings sufficient courtrooms to handle the District Court workload in South King County for the first time in more than 10 years. Now four of our five courtrooms have attached jury deliberation rooms and our fifth courtroom is designed as a multi-purpose room which can also be used for meetings. This also allows shared jury pools between District and Superior Courts, allowing us to schedule jury trials weekly, rather than once a month.  Additionally the clerk’s office at this facility used to be in the basement behind the elevator, down a long, narrow and dark hallway and behind a closed and windowless door. Now the public can easily find our clerk’s office on the first floor near the entrance. We have, for the first time, private attorney client conference rooms outside the courtrooms. Also with the redesign the public defender screening office is located next to our new courtrooms enabling those who need public defender services to easily access help. Customers have already commented on the improved building design, more convenient access to public transit and the overall flow of the Courthouse.

5. What are you most looking forward to in 2014?

I am looking forward to continuing to collaborate with front line staff, management, judicial officers, Superior Court, the Executive, the King County Council, our Contract Cities and other intergovernmental agencies to find new and more efficient ways to improve the operations and services provided by the District Court. I am particularly excited about District Court’s goals to provide better access to justice and more efficient use of resources through technology, including e-filing and a new case management system.

Employees Star in Video to Welcome New Employees

New Employee Video

IT Service Center employee Kanesa Monroe spoke in the video about why KCIT strives for service excellence when helping employees with work station and other IT problems.

New employees at King County will soon get a special welcome and introduction to our core values when a new video starring employees from across the County is launched.

Employees in the video talk about what it means to them to be a King County employee, and focus on five core values:

  • Equity and Social Justice
  • Customer Service
  • Teamwork and Collaboration
  • Continuous Improvement
  • Healthy Employees

Several departments and agencies have participated in the video, including the Department of Judicial Administration, Department of Executive Services, King County Sheriff’s Office, King County Elections, Public Health, the Executive’s Office, Department of Natural Resources and Parks, KCIT, Department of Community and Human Services, Metro Transit, and the Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention. King County Executive Dow Constantine and King County Councilmember Larry Gossett are also featured in the video.


Five Questions: Karleen Sakumoto, Manager, Employee Health and Well-Being

1. How long have you been at King County and what was your first 

I have been at the County for over 30 years, but I have worked in several different departments during this time. My first job was as a Program Analyst in what is now the Office of Performance, Strategy and Budget (PSB).

2. What are the main responsibilities of your job?

Karleen Sakumoto, Employee Health and Well-Being

I am responsible for the County’s Healthy Incentives program. My job involves a wide range of activities to make Healthy Incentives a success. This includes talking with labor leaders about what our benefits should look like, meeting with health care professionals about services they provide, and coordinating with other County employees who help us deliver the program.

3. What do you like most about your job?

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