Weinstein responds to government by pique

And now a follow up on this post from yesterday, which had its genesis in a Joe Turner article about the Senate killing an asbestos lawsuit bill in retaliation for newspaper ads runs by the firm employing former state senator Brian Weinstein.

Readers may recall that not only did Senators kill the asbestos bill, it looks like they also killed off the Homeowner’s Bill of Rights, something that Weinstein worked on very hard when he was in office. Here’s a nugget from Turner’s article yesterday, because scrolling down is so difficult:

In four years, he (Weinstein) never really learned a thing about how this place works,” Sen. Brian Hatfield, D-Raymond, said Saturday. Hatfield was supporting a couple changes that Kastama and Haugen wanted to make to the original bill, changes that Weinstein’s firm did not want.

How “this place” works is this: Not only did the senators kill SB 5964, they also killed the so-called Homeowners Bill of Rights, a measure that Weinstein had championed for most of term in the Legislature and which he nearly got passed. It passed the Senate, but died in the House.

I talked to Weinstein this morning, and he sounded pretty incredulous at the turn of events, especially when it comes to the current Homeowner’s Bill of Rights.

“I’ve never lobbied for the current bill, I didn’t go testify, I haven’t even read the bill,” said Weinstein.

Over at Publicola, Josh reports that an “insider” offered the “conjecture” that a vote on the HBR is being put on hold because they “Just gotta wash the Weinstein off.” To which one can only offer a shake of the head, and the all too frequent observation that a lot of politicians have their heads where the sun don’t shine if this is how they view things that impact regular citizens. Talk about losing sight of why they were elected in the first place.

Weinstein pointed out this moring how nuts this all has become. “It’s totally absurd for the Senate to be punishing homebuyers by trying to punish me when I had nothing to do with this (current) bill.”

Indeed. We all know what needs washing, and it’s ain’t Brian Weinstein. The insider, frat-boy-sorority girl behavior may be acceptable and common in OIympia, but frankly given the economic calamity facing this state it’s pretty offensive.

Now tell me why I need to support a tax increase, Legislators. Or are you going to kill that bill to teach me a lesson?


  1. 1

    ivan spews:

    Lemme see, Jon. JOSH reports that “‘an insider’ told him,” and you think that’s anything to hang a news item on?

    Who is this “insider” and what makes this source credible. And who the fuck is Josh and what makes him credible?

    Keep it up, guys, it’s your blog, and you can make it into your own little circle jerk if you want. But don’t tell me this is the future of news.

  2. 2

    Particle Man spews:

    For what its worth, Josh was on the money with his reporting. As for Jon and his apparent point of view, that a former legislator should get ANYTHING he wants and not be discouraged from throwing a public tantrum when he does not, well, all I can say is bull.
    Look, I was thrilled to see Jim Horn retired and I would have tolerated much from Brian as a senator in order for the D’s to hold that seat. This last few weeks though all we saw was Brian bringing shame upon himself and testing the institution. It was Brian alone who failed and the senate who shined. The sad thing here is that Brian and his firm went so far, that a potentially good change in the law may never occur in regard to asbestos liability. As for the HO bill of rights legislation, I expect it will move or not on its own merits.

  3. 4

    shock&awe spews:

    hmmmmmm…”This last few weeks though all we saw was Brian bringing shame upon himself and testing the institution. It was Brian alone who failed and the senate who shined.” Wait, hold on, one second please. You say that is was Brian that failed and the Senate who shined. That is not only ludicrious; it is absurd. Weinstein was standing up for the rights of those who have had their rights infringed upon, while the Senate has decided to kill a bil because they got their feelings hurt. I’m sorry, but we are no longer in third grade on the playground. Maybe its time to listen to that little piece of advice adults used to tell us when we were little, I believe it starts with “sticks and stones.” Seriously people, politics can get quite ugly, but to kill a piece a legislation because you got your feelings hurt is downright illogical. Weinstein’s track records shows he stands up for minority rights and fights for those who’s voice is typically ignored, so to say he failed is ignorant and grossly uninformed. Lastly, to say the Senate shined is despicable and offensive. To allow the legislature to kill a bill because of mean “attack ads” is one thing, but to then commend them for it is terrible. Government, the state legislature in particular, is designed to protect people’s rights, not ignore or reject them, especially over issues like these. The Legislature has now swung and missed twice, in terms of standing up for the rights of the innoncent (asbestos bill and Homeowners BoR’s); let’s see where they end up striking out. Particle Man, I guess we just see things from completely opposite sides.

  4. 5

    ivan spews:

    No, Weinstein failed, pure and simple. During Lobby Day for the King County Democrats’ Legislative Action committee, I asked him point blank if there was any wiggle room in his language that he might accept just to pass something — anything — out of the session. One thing I mentioned, just as an example, was length of warranty.

    Weinstein said no, he didn’t see why he needed to give an inch on any of the language, and he wasn’t going to. Subsequent to that, he made a bunch of nasty comments about Speaker Chopp that got into the newspapers.

    Being an effective legislator is more than just being “right” on an issue. I like Weinstein, he’s a good guy and he meant well, but the record shows that he was not effective.

  5. 7

    Particle Man spews:

    Ivan’s points are well made.
    The shame I was talking about stems from a recent Senator’s way over the top zeal to trade upon and use as leverage, the access and standing he has as a recent former senator. As a former senator Brian has the kind of access none of us or any lobbyist has. Basic ethics dictate that one would resist exploiting this level of access for an issue related to personal gain.
    In a case where a former senator finds a personal business related need for legislation, he should not prance through the doors of the senate when they swing open for him. Rather, he should send in a note as others do and decline the ambush opportunity. He should demand that if he is to have any role in the effort that he have a say (as I expect Brian did) in all aspects of the effort. He should use this authority within his firm and with his clients to show due respect and to make sure they do the same.

    And if as some would suggest, this seems over the top, then consider how things will evolve if Olympia became just a revolving door where high priced attorneys stopped off for one term in order to gain influence for their clients and to rush themselves up the firms ladder.

  6. 8

    Mr. Cynical spews:

    You are sooooooo fat, perhaps the fat globules from your grotesque TOADHEAD plugged your ears and you didn’t hear Weinstein accurately.
    You are a fat f*cker.. you know what I mean?

  7. 9

    Particle Man spews:

    shock&awe, it may help you understand if you read my last post.
    I do not think this dust up resulted from senator’s having thin skin. I think it resulted from the exploitation of a trusted relationship not primarily for those who suffer but for those who bill them.
    Don’t get me wrong. The companies that are at issue should not walk away free just as a result of having subcontracted out asbestos related manufacturing. Further law firms like Brian’s provide a crucial service in holding business accountable for those who suffer and die from the involved business’s practices.
    Brian and his clients just crossed the line in a big way, and so, the bill is dead for a year.

  8. 10

    So Sad spews:

    This says more about the lack of responsible work our state government than anything else.

    Rather than focus on the issues…on the people….they divert attention to a petty matter of internal personality conflict.

    Throw ALL the bums out….get folks in there who put the people’s business first….and stop your childish, playground squabbles.

    Perhaps if our legislators acted more no behalf of the citizens, we wouldn’t have one of the worst deficits in the country.

    Good riddance. To the whole lot.

  9. 11

    twindad spews:

    We should focus on the issue. The dreadful toll of asbestos on Washingtonians is immense. The clients my firm has represented over the past decade (I am an attorney in the firm that was lobbying on the asbestos bill) are typically given 6 to 18 months to live when diagnosed with asbestos cancer. It’s always fatal. There is no survival rate. Most of these folks worked in shipyards such as at Bremerton. The bill that was killed did not confer liability on any company – all it did was restore a common law rule that allowed people with asbestos cancer a chance to prove their case to a jury. But it did not automatically make any company liable.

    The bill was an attempt to rectify state Supreme Court rulings that had, by a divided Court, shut the door to these type of claims before even giving these folks their day in Court (if you really want to understand the problem with the opinions – read the brilliant and vigorous dissent in the Simonetta case by Justice Stephens). What was being attempted with the asbestos bill was no different than what the US Congress and President Obama did recently when it overruled by statute the US Supreme Court’s decision in the Ledbetter pay discrimination case – that awful Supreme Court decision which effectively closed the door to proving up a pay discrimination claim. And if anyone thinks that this was simply a trial lawyer snow job, they should know that our side had prevailed on this issue in the lower appellate court in a 3-0 decision before a panel composed of a liberal, moderate and conservative judge. We weren’t way out on a limb here. The little secret that many on the other side are aware of, but which no one is discussing, is that these decisions have the potential to undermine a whole range of settled product liability law, outside of the asbestos arena, where the issue is whether a company owes a duty to warn about a foreseeable use of their product. This had not, in our view, been a controversial concept in law in this state or elsewhere until these decisions. It had been the law for at least four decades and probably longer.

    So that is the background of the bill. Joe McDermott, Jeanne Kohl Wells, Lisa Brown and several others were doing a good job on it and it had a chance – but there were some members on the Democratic side who had concerns. Given how close the vote was going to be, these ads that generated all the media coverage should not have been run. Not all of us in the firm were aware of the decisions to run the ads and would not have agreed with this step. Nevertheless, my side blew it. In my opinion, instead of forcing these guys to focus on the merits of the bill what it did was give people who might have been persuadable at the end of the day (perhaps with some changes to certain parts of the bill language) a reason to vote against it and, as usual in this kind of thing, the substance of the bill got lost in the debate over tactics and then a personality dispute. Plus, in my view, its generally a bad idea to attack members of your own party publicly– people don’t yield – they dig in when this kind of thing happens and others rally around them. Whether they are right or wrong in a cosmic sense is irrelevant. It’s human nature. Obviously this was not a case study in “How to Win Friends and Influence People”.