City Briefs

Sen. Weinstein takes job in Seattle law firm

Mercer Island’s state senator, Brian Weinstein, announced last week that he joined the law firm of Bergman & Frockt as senior counsel. Weinstein just finished the fourth year of his first and only term in the state Senate. Weinstein will not seek re-election this fall, and current Island representative Fred Jarrett is running for the open seat.

At Bergman & Frockt, a Seattle-based firm dedicated to asbestos and consumer protection cases, Weinstein will continue litigating cases from across the nation. During his term on the Senate, he served as chair of the state Senate’s Consumer and Housing Committee, and he introduced several pieces of legislation to protect consumers from unfair insurance industry tactics, shoddy home construction, mortgage fraud and foreclosure rescue scams.

He also led the fight against the insurance industry last year, which tried to overturn the Fair Insurance Practices Act, a law Weinstein introduced prohibiting insurance companies from wrongfully rejecting legitimate insurance claims. Voters voiced their support for the new law by voting to keep the law on the books approving Referendum 67 last November.

Senator Weinstein, 53, resides in the South end with his wife, Gaylene, and three children. He pioneered asbestos litigation strategies in the late 1980s and 1990s by representing workers poisoned by asbestos in several states. He also won some of the largest jury verdicts in asbestos litigation, totaling several $100 million. The “National Law Journal” recognized Weinstein as one of a team of lawyers who won the nation’s largest jury verdict that year against New York Powerhouse. The case ended with a $91.3 million verdict for 45 plaintiffs as Weinstein and a team of lawyers represented hundreds of workers who were exposed to asbestos while working as insulation installers for Consolidated Edison and Long Island Lighting Co.

W. Mercer house fire

A home adjacent to West Mercer Elementary School caught fire on Thursday afternoon, but there was no danger to the school as firefighters quickly extinguished the blaze. There were no injuries.

The Island fire department responded to a call about a house fire in the 4100 block of West Mercer Way just after 2 p.m. on April 17. The flames were put out within 45 minutes. The fire did not spread to other homes, as it was contained mostly to the attic with some extension into the interior of the house. Investigators determined that the fire originated from smoldering material on a wood pile located near the side of the house. They also ruled the fire to be accidental. Preliminary damage estimates to the building are $150,000.

No one was home when the fire started, and neighbors reported the fire after being alerted by a hiss of the overheated propane bottle. The fire originated on the exterior of the house and rapidly spread up the wall and into the attic.

Bellevue firefighters and a ladder truck also responded to the incident. Police closed the roadway and diverted southbound traffic onto 78th Avenue S.E. Firefighters breached the roof of the brick home to ensure that the flames were extinguished and monitored the home for several hours afterwards.

Senior Commission work to continue

Members of Mercer Island’s newest board, the Senior Commission, recently received City Council approval for more meetings as it devises its annual work plan and budget for 2009. The seven-member commission of Islanders over 55 will be spending the next six months developing the work plan for next year. The Senior Commission’s role is to study, review, evaluate and make recommendations to the Council regarding matters affecting seniors age 55 and older.

The commission consists of seven members who are 55 years of age or older, legal residents of Mercer Island appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by the City Council. The Mayor has designated one City Councilmember to act as liaison to the Mercer Island Senior Commission.

The commission meets quarterly but has asked for more meetings. Their most recent meeting was on April 17, and the next meeting will now be in May. Meetings will take place monthly instead of quarterly, giving the group more time to establish their 2009 work plan and get funds approved by the Council for their programs. The meetings will be held at 7 p.m. at the Community Center at Mercer View.

“We might be partnering with several service organizations, faith-based organizations and local universities and colleges,” said the commission chair, David Jobe. “We want to take a fresh look at the city’s policies and planning programs for the elderly and we put together something of a mission statement.”

Mayor Jim Pearman told the members present that he had heard good words from the mayor of Bellevue regarding the work that the commission had started. So far, the commissioners have been looking at other Eastside boards of seniors and developing a general guide of services that the city can provide for seniors, many of which it already offers, Jobe said.

As pointed out by City Manager Rich Conrad, most of the issues related to seniors spread across every city department.

Summer Rec. Guide available

The City of Mercer Island Parks and Recreation Spring and Summer 2008 Recreation Guide is available online at The guide includes listings for classes and activities for young and old; from swim schedules at Mary Wayte Pool to day camp for kids to health and fitness classes for all ages. Registration can be done online, in person or over the phone. Call 275-7609 for information.

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