By MARY L. GRADY
Mercer Island Reporter Editor
October 25, 2011 · Updated 3:05 PM
A letter read at the Oct. 17 City Council meeting by Deputy Mayor El Jahncke was prepared for the City Council to help them avoid any further litigation in the aftermath of the lawsuit between former city employee Londi Lindell and the city.
The letter was prepared by the law firm of Michael and Alexander, retained by the city’s insurance company, the Washington Cities Insurance Authority (WCIA). The firm represented the WCIA and the City of Mercer Island as clients in the lawsuit between former city employee Londi Lindell and the city.
An earlier story in the Reporter misstated that it was an independent analysis.
The letter is an item-by-item review of the major components and evidence of the case, using the documents prepared regarding each and the actions of the court regarding their veracity or applicability to the lawsuit.
Lew Leigh of WCIA said Mayor Jim Pearman and Jahncke asked the agency for guidance on how they could talk about the case to citizens without violating any part of the agreements made in the case settlement.
“The mayor and the deputy mayor called and asked our attorneys, ‘What can we say on the record and not get us afoul of the judge and the [stipulations] of the federal agreement?’” Leigh said.
“Our attorneys wrote them a letter and gave them talking points so that they stay within the settlement agreement and the myriad of motions given by the judge,” he continued.
He pointed out that the letter cannot be qualified as an independent assessment of the case and that it was not intended to be.
Councilmembers and other city officials had been forbidden by the court to talk about the case until its conclusion. That constraint has been continued by some of the conditions agreed to in the settlement of the lawsuit.
Reached by phone in New Hampshire where he is training with FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Pearman said the city wants to be able to talk about the case.
“The City Council has been frustrated for a long time because we have not been able to discuss the case in public.
“We were of the belief that our side of the story would have been told at the trial which never happened,” he said.
“But we did not want to create a situation that would make the city liable,” he explained.
“We want to abide by the spirit and the letter of the settlement agreement.”
Contact Mercer Island Reporter Editor Mary L. Grady at firstname.lastname@example.org or (206) 232-1215 ext. 1050.