Welcome to the Spring 2013 San Mateo County Employee Newsletter. We begin with a profile:
As the sun falls in the Western sky at the end of another work day, a melodic sound drifts out of the County Center parking garage. It starts out low, slow, confusing. Then it builds and echoes through five floors of concrete. That’s it– the unmistakable melody of bagpipes playing ancient tunes that stir the heart, bringing thoughts of homeland, honor and loss.
Brian Molver opens the ceremony at the County’s annual Disaster Preparedness Day
The hidden piper is Brian Molver, District Coordinator of the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office of Emergency Services, whose dedication to public safety is matched only by his devotion to the pipes.
Molver practices his music almost daily, unpacking his treasured 1953 R.G. Lawrie bagpipes in a solitary corner of the basement in the parking structure, surrounded by Sheriff’s vehicles and supplies, or at the Mission Cemetery in Santa Clara, where he fills the historic mausoleum with the pipe’s pleasing tones. He likes the acoustics in such places.
While Molver enjoys some Irish ancestry, his love of the bagpipes stems from the instrument’s history in law enforcement. His own father came to love the skirl of the pipes as a soldier in World War II, and generations of American police officers and firefighters have embraced the instrument as an embodiment of the warrior spirit.
“Since America was founded, the Scottish regiments have led their soldiers into battle playing the pipes, they rallied the troops in retreat, and when soldiers died they instilled dignity in what had happened,” Molver said. “There’s no other instrument like it in the world. It is immensely powerful.”
Molver plays a form of music known as Piobaireachd, which is the earliest form of manuscript music. Listen to him practice:
“There are no lyrics,” Molver said. “To me it is like classical Indian or Pakistani music, where the melody begins slowly like a raga where the variations in the melody get more intricate and fantastic as the tune goes along.”
Molver has won numerous awards for his music, and even competed in Scotland as a teenager. He once played drums with the Nepali National Police Bagpipe Band during a visit to Kathmandu, and regularly performs at the annual memorial service for fallen police officers at the California State Capitol and at our County’s memorial service.
Watch a video of Brian Molver playing the pipes in the garage and learn his “Rule of 5s” for surviving a disaster by clicking here.
Gift Cards Reward Success in Veterans Court
When U.S. military veterans land in Judge John Grandsaert’s Veterans Treatment Court, the men and women are provided with help and a mentor, not a cell.
Veterans Treatment Court has a simple goal: treat the underlying causes of a veteran’s mental health and substance abuse issues that may have contributed to an arrest. A veteran may be eligible to have charges dropped or fines reduced upon successful completion of court-ordered programs.
Veterans Treatment Court is not a get-out-of-jail-free card. Veterans are under intense supervision and must comply with all court orders or face fines, jail time or transfer out of Veterans Court to regular criminal court.
It’s tough, no doubt, staying away from the drugs and alcohol that many have used to medicate themselves from the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injuries and other illnesses. That’s why Judge Grandsaert offers veterans incentives along the road to recovery.
He often provides veterans with a gift card — $5 or $10 to Starbucks or Jamba Juice, for instance – if they have a favorable progress report. The Judge has found that minor rewards along the road to recovery can have a major influence on behavior. What Veterans Services Court needs are more gift cards.
Please consider donating $5 and $10 gift cards from establishments that do not sell alcohol to Veterans Services Court.
San Mateo County employees can send the cards via PONY to Michael Leon in Probation at PRO114. Members of the public can send the cards to Michael Leon, Probation Department, Fifth Floor, San Mateo County Hall of Justice, Redwood City, CA 94063.
County Programs Reach for the STARS
County programs that have harnessed volunteer power, improved worker health and slashed the time it takes to resolve complaints are winners of San Mateo County Stars Awards.
The Board of Supervisors also granted STARS awards to two environmental initiatives and an employee suggestion.
Established in 2006, the STARS competition gives cash awards to county departments and programs that demonstrate excellence in performance and customer service. The program was expanded in 2008 to reward outstanding employee suggestions and environmental sustainability initiatives. The cash awards must be used to support the winning department’s operations.
Office of Consumer Family Affairs, Health System/Behavioral Health and Recovery Services, for slashing the time it takes to resolve grievances from 36.1 days to 22.9 days – a 37 percent reduction. $5,000.
Sheriff’s Office Volunteer Forces, for organizing volunteers who contribute more than 33,000 hours of service each year, reflecting annual savings in excess of $1 million. $20,000.
Search and rescue volunteers on the job
Human Resources Department, Employee Wellness Program, for providing health and wellness services to nearly 40 percent of the County’s workforce. The department also offered Thrive Across America, a web-based physical activity program that served 1,500 County workers. $20,000.
Health System/Environmental Health, for a Foodware Ordinance that banned the use of polystyrene foam containers from restaurants in San Mateo County’s unincorporated area. Eleven local cities have since adopted the county’s ordinance, and four others have adopted similar regulations. $2,500.
Agricultural Weights and Measures, for its Paperless Office Initiative focused on converting paper files into electronic formats, thereby saving paper, copy-machine chemicals, equipment costs, office storage space and many worker hours. County residents have also benefited from faster response times to requests for information. $2,500.
Garrett Dunwoody, an employee with the Information Services Department, who suggested that the county implement an “Innovation Day,” allowing workers to work on self-selected projects that contribute to the success of the organization. $100.
Honorable Mention awards were given to three County programs, including: Medical/Surgical Patient Experience Improvement, $3,500 Get Healthy San Mateo County, Health System, $10,000 Pathways Mental Health Court Program, Health System/Probation, $10,000
This year’s STARS awards were chosen from eleven entries submitted last fall by six county departments, and from 22 employee suggestions. The department entries were reviewed and ranked by two teams of county representatives, and the employee suggestions were vetted by the affected department to determine feasibility.
San Mateo County is now on Facebook
Did you know San Mateo County is now on Facebook? You can find us and “Like” us at www.facebook.com/CountyofSanMateo
And did you know that the County has an official YouTube channel? The County Library has a Flickr photo stream?
Many departments and divisions are using social media to reach new audiences. This includes the Health System, Sheriff’s Office, Elections, Human Resources and more.
You can find a list on the County’s home page under “Get Connected.”
Smart Justice in San Mateo County
The California Legislature in 2011 passed a plan to comply with federal court orders to reduce the prison population by about 35,000 inmates. Under the plan the state’s 58 counties began incarcerating, supervising and rehabilitating non-serious, non-violent and non-sexual offenders.
This has placed a new challenge on our staff and on counties across the state. To meet the challenge, San Mateo County has launched Service Connect. When an offender is released from jail, he or she is directed immediately to get signed up for an initial assessment plus other help they need to get off to a fresh start. Learn about Service Connect and our County’s approach to what’s called Public Safety Realignment in this video produced by the California State Association of Counties:
Service Connect received a 2012 Merit Award in the California State Association of Counties Challenge Awards.
Bravery and Teamwork Save Lives at San Mateo Medical Center
When a fire broke out March 5 on the Skilled Nursing unit at San Mateo Medical Center, what could have turned into a tragedy was prevented by the bravery and skill of Medical Center staff, who risked their own safety to extinguish the fire and secure the safety of the patients on that unit.
The skilled nursing staff made sure that all 29 patients were evacuated in less than 15 minutes, and that the fire doors and doors to patient rooms were closed. As a result, not a single patient was exposed to the smoke or suffered from smoke inhalation. The Board of Supervisors on March 26 publicly thanked and recognized the employees for their outstanding efforts.
Learn how Susan Petterson, Filemon Doria, Dereck Miranda and Eldick Roth teamed with other Medical Center staff to become “Health Heroes.”
Board Reinstates Parks Department
The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, April 23, voted to create a Parks Department (read the Parks Staff Report) and invest more than $4.7 million in park operations and improvements over the next 14 months.
The funding will largely come from voter-approved Measure A, a half-cent sales tax that took effect countywide on April 1, and capital improvement funds.
A bridge at San Pedro Valley Park in Pacifica
“Our 17 County parks have been neglected far too long,” said Board President Don Horsley. “San Mateo County residents take great pride in our parks and open space and we need to invest in our natural resources for this and future generations.”
The County plans to hire seven new Parks positions, including four rangers and a Parks director, and to start to implement the San Mateo County Parks Strategic Plan, which was also approved at Tuesday’s Board meeting. That plan calls for fixing failing roads, trails, sewage systems and other infrastructure while increasing opportunities for recreation.
Read the Parks Strategic Plan.
The Parks Department was folded into the Department of Public Works approximately two years ago to save money to help the County meet fiscal challenges.
With the passage of Measure A in November 2012, which called for “keeping parks open,” the Board moved to restore Parks as a separate department to give parks and parks visitors “the attention they rightfully deserve,” Horsley said.
Two of the new rangers will focus on the new Devil’s Slide trail, which is scheduled to open later this year. The trail is the former Highway 1 that is now bypassed by the Tom Lantos Tunnels at Devil’s Slide, which opened in late March.
Make the Right Call: It’s 9-1-1 in an Emergency
Public Safety Communications and other emergency management officials are addressing an urban legend making its way on social media sites and warn the public that 9-1-1 is the number to call for emergency help in the United States. Some posts on social networks are encouraging U.S. residents to call 1-1-2 — the European number for emergency calls — in such situations.
Jaime Young, the County’s 9-1-1 director, urges the public to rely on 9-1-1. “It’s important that our residents and visitors know that 9-1-1 on a landline telephone or wireless device is still the only number to call when in an emergency situation.” National associations have gone as far as creating a ‘1-1-2hoax’ hashtag on Twitter and are urging people to re-tweet the correct information and help us get the word out.
If someone in the U.S. does dial 1-1-2, some carriers treat it as an emergency call and reroute it to the 9-1-1 system. However, not all devices and carriers support this functionality, so there is a chance that dialing 1-1-2 in the U.S. will result in no one answering the call. Some of the social-media posts have indicated that dialing 1-1-2 will result in “preferential treatment” and quicker response. Not true. And please don’t call 1-1-2 to try it out — you might tie up emergency resources that are needed elsewhere.
It’s a good lesson: not all information posted on the Internet is true.
Take a Kid Fishing
It’s often said that kids today suffer from Nature Deficit Disorder — they don’t get outside enough.
Park Ranger Steve Kraemer is doing his best to overcome that. He created a “Take a Kid Fishing” program that allowed kids enrolled in summer camp at CuriOdyssey at Coyote Point to go fishing.
Children enjoy a day of fishing along the Bay thanks to Ranger Steve Kraemer and other rangers and volunteers.
Kraemer was able to gather enough fishing equipment and supplies to get the program started, through contributions of fellow rangers, family and friends. He worked with camp counselors and other park rangers, to ensure these fishing adventures for the children were very successful. He also used this opportunity to educate the children on taking care of the environment, conservation of wildlife, and the need for clean water.
Additionally, Kraemer has been a ‘Go to Ranger’ for several volunteer projects and events. These projects/events involve a lot of pre-planning, coordination and preparation to ensure that they run smoothly and safely. He leads the volunteers in a well-coordinated, professional and safe manner.
Ranger Steve Kraemer
Kraemer joined the County in 2005 as an extra help park aide and has been promoted several times. Hehas been a job coach/mentor for the annual Supported Training & Experience Program (STEP) internships for youth emancipated from foster care. Kraemer’s professionalism, work ethic and overall determination in seeing things get done has been invaluable in helping Parks maintain a high level of service.
In recognition of his service and dedication, the Board of Supervisors named him Employee of the Month in February. Read the Board memo.
San Mateo County Website Transformation Begins
The Web redesign and Drupal implementation has begun. What is a Drupal, you say? Simply put, it is an English rendering of a Dutch word for drop. Drupal is also a free and open-source software content management system for websites. Our intent is to build an open platform for connecting, engaging, educating and collaborating with our community.
Over the next 12 to 18 months, the Web team will be intensely focused on transforming San Mateo County’s web presence. Departments hosted on the Vignette CMS will be called on to do the same during their two- to three-week migration to the new platform.
Our contractor, Phase2, will be onsite this week to meet with small groups to discuss technology, project requirements and look-and-feel. To stay informed about the project, employees can join the Web group in Yammer (http://www.yammer.com/smcgov.org) and interested members of the public can send an e-mail to email@example.com. You are also welcome to drop by the Web Team’s new digs in the former Press Room at 400 County Center and say hello to the Web team: Andrew Kenmore, Aja Bettencourt-McCarthy, Bev Thames, Jean-Francois Barthe and Rosa Ortez.
Shared Vision 2025 – Making an Impact in our Community
As public servants, we can make a huge difference in our community every day. We can help our residents get healthier and more independent, and our neighborhoods safer and cleaner. Our Shared Vision is for a healthy and safe, livable, prosperous, collaborative and environmentally conscious community.
In January, the Board of Supervisors adopted a set of Community Impact Goals to prioritize our work and measure our progress. Can you see how your work contributes to one or more of these goals? By working on the most important things together, we can make sure our shared vision for the Year 2025 becomes a reality!
Shared Vision 2025 reflects the goals and priorities for the San Mateo County community expressed during a series of public meetings and surveys. Focusing on the Shared Vision 2025 goals and priorities places an emphasis on what’s best for all of San Mateo County today and in the years to come.
Kick off spring by enjoying any number of free outdoor events taking place across San Mateo County on May 4 and 5. It’s called Streets Alive! Parks Alive!
Enjoy a bike rodeo in Belmont, kite flying in Menlo Park or a scavenger hunt in San Bruno. Skating in Pacifica and kids’ activities in Burlingame are also on the menu.
Streets Alive Parks Alive is sponsored by San Mateo County along with a host of Peninsula cities. It’s an annual event that encourages all of us to enjoy everything our communities have to offer while getting some exercise and shaking off the winter chill. Find Streets Alive! Parks Alive! on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/StreetsAliveParksAlive or call 650-363-4568.
San Mateo County Jobs for Youth serves teens and young adults ages 14 to 21 to help them secure employment in our working world. The 31st Annual Jobs for Youth Breakfast will be held on Thursday, May 23, at 7:30 a.m., at the Foster City Crown Plaza Hotel, 1221 Chess Drive, Foster City.
Please pass this information along to anyone that may be interested in attending or supporting this important program. Learn more.
Are you ready?
Find out how to prepare for a disaster at San Mateo County Disaster Preparedness Day on Saturday June 8, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the San Mateo Event Center, 2495 S. Delaware St., San Mateo. Once again Disaster Preparedness Day is being held on the opening day of the San Mateo County Fair. You get free admission to the fair and free parking if you arrive before 11 a.m. Talk with emergency responders, learn how to put together an emergency kit, watch demonstrations and have some fun at Fiesta Hall.
A search dog shows off during a demonstration at Disaster Preparedness Day 2012
This newsletter was produced by the San Mateo County Manager’s Office with the goal of keeping employees — and the public — informed. Please contact Marshall Wilson, the communications director, at 650-363-4153 or at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions, comments and ideas.