Opinion

Washington homeowners deserve a ‘warranty’

Washington lags behind other states in protecting citizens who purchase new homes. Unlike other states, contractors in Washington are not required to participate in training or demonstrate their knowledge and skills. In fact, cosmetologists in our state must demonstrate more competency than the person you hire to build your dream home. We need stronger laws to protect homeowners from defective construction, and as chair of the Senate Consumer Protection & Housing Committee, I introduced a bill this session to help protect the largest investment most of us ever make — the purchase of a new home.

  • Nov 24, 2008

Sustainability: Whole community must contribute to effort

Mercer Island is uniquely situated to make a significant contribution to the challenge of our generation: To curb greenhouse gases and reduce the effects of global warming. As a community, we have a real opportunity to work together to build our sustainable future by “thinking globally and acting locally.” Last week, the City Council took an important step toward helping Mercer Island become a sustainable community. We unanimously approved a Sustainability Program that focuses on “leading by example” by conserving our natural resources and reducing the city’s carbon footprint for the benefit of future generations.

  • Nov 24, 2008

Sustainable or superficial?

The efforts of the city of Mercer Island to reduce the city’s carbon footprint by the City Council are laudable. Certainly it is a good thing to conserve energy and reduce waste. But as managers of a city government that looks after a community already tuned into the environment, it is a no-brainer.

  • Nov 24, 2008

Code for livability

After two years of work by city staff, hours of meetings and discussion, the City Council has passed a set of amendments to the city code regarding commercial and residential construction in the Town Center.

  • Nov 24, 2008

Event to focus on teen driver safety

After passing the driver’s test, it seems like having a car and being able to drive without their parents is the ultimate freedom for most teens. With this new privilege also comes a lot of responsibility — something that teenagers don’t often contemplate when they are behind the steering wheel or in the passenger seat.

  • Nov 24, 2008

The kitchen sink

Once again, Islanders rally to keep our community trash and toxin free. On May 19, the City of Mercer Island held another one of its popular community recycle and collection events behind City Hall. It is an opportunity for Islanders to load up the family SUV and haul away accumulated junk and waste — some stuff that is difficult to get rid of these days. More than a thousand vehicles snaked down Gallagher Hill Road to drop off items both unwanted and potentially harmful.

  • Nov 24, 2008

Immigration reform must reflect economic realities, common sense

With White House support, the U.S. Senate is seriously debating comprehensive immigration reform this week. The central compromise of this “Grand Bargain” (S.1348) is a path to permanent residence for an estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants in exchange for huge cutbacks in future family-based immigration.

  • Nov 24, 2008

Island clergy want a place for Tent City 4

Fifteen months ago, the Mercer Island Clergy Association (MICA) began conversations with the City of Mercer Island about the probability that Tent City 4 (the Eastside Tent City) would eventually come to Mercer Island for a temporary stay of approximately 90 days. Over several meetings, we talked to city officials, including the city manager, the city attorney, and the police chief. We then broadened our meetings to include SHARE/WHEEL, one of the largest providers of adult shelter in Seattle and the supervisor of Tent City 4, leaders of Eastside congregations that have previously hosted Tent City 4, and the resident leaders of Tent City 4 themselves.

  • Nov 24, 2008

Tents in our backyard

Along with the benefits of living in the very center of a prosperous and desirable metropolitan area comes social responsibility. Yet, the Mercer Island Clergy Association’s plans to bring the homeless encampment of Tent City 4 to a church on the Island for 90 days is sure to make us a bit uncomfortable in meeting that responsibility. Even if we wish to end homelessness, offering our own backyard is another concept entirely. Concerns about safety and myths about the homeless will no doubt cause a good deal of controversy. It is a proposal that has the potential to bring out the very best in us or the very worst.

  • Nov 24, 2008

Grads look forward to service and success

There is something special about being a part of Mercer Island. I moved here when I was 9 months old because my parents wanted me to grow up in a place that values education, family and community. Reflecting back on the past 18 years, I realize they selected the ideal place. It is because of the love, support and guidance we receive from our families, teachers and friends that we, the Class of 2007, move forward with confidence and strength, ready to reach for our dreams.

  • Nov 24, 2008

Stunning returns from investing in early learning

If someone told you she had a proven way to curb crime, trim welfare rolls, curtail illiteracy, lower school dropout rates, decrease teen pregnancy and reduce child abuse — all while producing a return of $13 on each dollar spent in the effort — would you be interested? No, it’s not too good to be true. These are the actual benefits of early childhood education.

  • Nov 24, 2008

The longest days in June

School is out. Finally. Eight days were missed this school year due to bad weather and power outages. Even though the number of days to be made up were reduced by three, (waived by the State Superintendent of Schools) having five extra days of school in late June seems like forever.

  • Nov 24, 2008

Real public space

Dozens of citizens converged upon the Design Commission meeting regarding the proposal to build the Boys and Girls Club PEAK facility near the high school. Yet less than a handful attended another commission meeting held just two weeks earlier on the Arterra development in the Town Center — a project more than four times the size of PEAK.

  • Nov 24, 2008

Small town life; the return of a lost pet

The return of a lost dog is hardly front page news. But as I considered the part I played in the return of a frightened Yorkshire terrier to her grateful owner this week, I felt compelled to write about it. In fact, this might be the most important story of my year.

  • Nov 24, 2008

War and free speech

The Forum piece this week (reprinted from The Bellingham Herald below) is about a couple who lived on Mercer Island for many years, Ron Queisser and Cindi Williamson, who now live in Bellingham. When they lived here, the couple, despite the pressures of family, jobs and household made a decision to stick their necks out on the war in Iraq. Not long after Shock and Awe, they began tallying the loss of life in Iraq by posting the number of dead on a sign in their backyard. Posted at the corner of 78th Avenue S.E. and S.E. 37th Street, the sign was very visible to the hundreds of motorists driving past each day.

  • Nov 24, 2008

A daughter nearly lost in drowsy driver accident

We often read in the newspapers or hear from friends about someone who was injured or killed by a drunk driver. Throughout middle and high school, our children are constantly educated by the local D.A.R.E. and M.A.D.D. programs about the important issue of drug and alcohol abuse and of driving while intoxicated.

  • Nov 24, 2008

Parades and potions

It was another smashing success for the Island’s Summer Celebration! It was the 17th summer of the weekend party. The weather was perfect, the food tasty and the crowd happy. The pirates scared and delighted revelers, although the cannon fire just might have been a tiny bit excessive. The fireworks were spectacular and the addition of Metro transportation to ferry people back and forth from the park, brilliant (and sustainable).

  • Nov 24, 2008

Ban election signs in public spaces

It’s time for the yearly spate of letters to the Reporter objecting to the proliferating political campaign signs. In my seven years on the Island, residents have made some excellent points in their letters-to-the-editor, protesting the signs on aesthetic, waste and even moral grounds. Alas, I can only recall one such letter last year, from a very bright Middle School girl.

  • Nov 24, 2008

Unsightly

Each fall, campaign signs sprout up like dandelions. But this year, election time has made an early appearance. With the exception of Bob Bersos, signs of the other three candidates for Position 3 on the City Council are already posted in dense clusters throughout the Island and Town Center.

  • Nov 24, 2008

Think globally and act locally — hike and bike

Creating a healthy and sustainable community requires that we all share our limited resources — including our roads and trails. As a key part of the City Council’s sustainability initiative, the Council will be reviewing the city’s Pedestrian and Bicycle Facilities Plan at a study session on Aug. 6 and we want your input.

  • Nov 24, 2008