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Not the assessor-treasurer office’s finest half hour

Post by Kim Bradford on Oct. 22, 2010 at 1:19 pm with 25 Comments »
October 22, 2010 1:55 pm

If Alberto Ugas isn’t regretting his decision to go up against Mark Lindquist on KOMO radio this morning, he should be.

Ugas – the Pierce County deputy assessor-treasurer who just filed a recall against Lindquist, the county’s prosecuting attorney, for allegedly obstructing justice – was a guest on John Carlson’s show this morning.

Ugas and his boss, Assessor-Treasurer Dale Washam, come off as batty in print. But on the radio, when followed by a guy who makes a living winning over juries? Not Ugas’ smartest move.

Carlson quizzed Ugas, asking why it’s Lindquist in his sights when 1) Lindquist’s predecessor, Gerry Horne, also declined to pursue criminal charges for what Ugas and Washam claim was criminal conduct by the former assessor-treasurer, Ken Madsen, and 2) the prosecutor’s office doesn’t launch criminal investigations, it reviews them.

Carlson also asked Ugas whether he was pursuing the recall in his official county capacity or as a private citizen. Ugas said he was doing it as a private citizen, because “we” understand the need to not mix public duties with private initiatives. Ugas offered that he was taking a vacation day to call into the show.

Carlson then says, “So you’re calling me from home?” Long pause. No, Ugas replied, I’m calling you from the office – an admission that led Carlson to dub Alberto Ugas the only man he knows who takes a vacation day at the office. At that point, Lindquist came on the show and, with his job half done for him, proceeded to sew up his case that the recall effort is nothing more than a political stunt.

Carlson’s outrage meter never seemed to register. He ended the spot by thanking Lindquist and giving a “I think we’re done here.”

Here’s something that should be investigated: How much public money, county resources and employee morale has been squandered on Washam’s and his deputy’s pursuit of an old vendetta? It’s a running tab that now includes one phone call with a Seattle radio station.

By the way, Washington law states, “No elective official nor any employee of his [or her] office nor any person appointed to or employed by any public office or agency may use or authorize the use of any of the facilities of a public office or agency, directly or indirectly, for the purpose of assisting a campaign for election of any person to any office or for the promotion of or opposition to any ballot proposition.” Ballot proposition is defined to include a recall.

Leave a comment Comments → 25
  1. When is someone going to start a Recall? Haven’t we wasted enough time and money on this soap opera?

  2. It appear I missed a good radio program.

  3. gondo9001 says:

    I hereby humbly apologize to the citizens of Pierce County. I voted for this clown act.

  4. Perspicacious1 says:

    Washam is a clear advertisement AGAINST rank choice voting. How much money is he costing the Pierce County taxpayer? Can’t someone, County Executive or Council, get rid of this guy? Take him to the wood shed and keep the door locked? Just think how much he will cost the taxpayer at the end of the next 2 years……..this guy has to be thrown out of office somehow!

  5. comment_tayter says:

    Washam and Ugas are a couple of clowns, and they’re going to end up costing the tax-payers a heap of money.

  6. So where was the prosecutor – in his office or at home? And whose idea was it to be on the Carlson show? If Ugas was responding to a request from John, then where is he ‘promoting’ anything? Most importantly, why does the Trib use a double standard?

    Is the editorial board carrying a grudge for old gadfly Dale? That wouldn’t be very professional, would it?

  7. tree_guy says:

    Kim, you seem overly impressed with Lindquist’s polished “style” compared to Ugas uncomposed “style.”

    As a taxpayer I want to know if the Assessors Office was being properly administered by Mr. Washams predecessor? If there was fraud and if valuations were compromised I want to know about it, and I don’t care if it was discovered by Daffy Duck or Elmer Fudd.

  8. pgroup, the difference is that the Ugas says he is doing this on his own time. Lindquist has not said the same thing.

    So it’s about honesty!

    “Ugas offered that he was taking a vacation day to call into the show.”

    “Carlson then says, “So you’re calling me from home?” Long pause. No, Ugas replied, I’m calling you from the office – an admission that led Carlson to dub Alberto Ugas the only man he knows who takes a vacation day at the office.”

  9. olympicmtn says:

    The TNT still didn’t answer the question why they protected Pearsall-Stipek and Gamble when we spend thousands upon thousands of dollars to defend these crack pot politicians for a race, age, hostile work environment lawsuit? (silence TNT). You endorsed Pearsal-Stipek time after time and even defended her when her body guard choked a person trying to monitor the elections. Do we have a sudden memory loss?

    The facts are still the facts regardless of who was on a talk show, Madsen FALSIFIED documents. Period. And all you have to go off of, is it is no big deal? Contractors and numerous politicians had their property taxes lowered along with commercial “friends”of Madsen and company and you claim this is ok? Sorry, we don’t buy it.

    Again, Pierce County does not prosecute white collar crimes. Unless you murder someone, they do not prosecute for any of these RICO crimes. So again, it is apparent if you are a Democrat politician in Pierce County you will not be prosecuted. I am glad someone is trying to enforce the laws of this state.

  10. olympicmtn says:

    Proof the Prosecutor’s office does not prosecute their own —- History:

    Former Pierce County Sheriff Mark French, who last year was arrested and charged with multiple counts of possessing child pornography, struck a deal with prosecutors yesterday that will allow him to avoid jail time and registering as a sex offender.

    Under the deal, French pleaded guilty to one count of possessing child pornography.

    He was sentenced to 30 days of confinement, which he will spend at home under electronic monitoring.

  11. olympicmtn: In 1998, the News Tribune editorial board took the nearly unprecedented step of revoking its endorsement of Pearsall-Stipek, five days after backing her. I’m not sure how that can be defined as protecting her.

  12. nwcolorist says:

    I enjoy a good David and Goliath story. Remeber that everyone laughed at David when he volunteered to take on the huge Philistine.

  13. tree_guy says:

    “Ugas and his boss, Assessor-Treasurer Dale Washam, come off as batty in print. But on the radio, when followed by a guy who makes a living winning over juries? Not Ugas’ smartest move.”

    Kim, you’re discussing style over substance. What are the merits of this case? Did Madsen do his job correctly or didn’t he?

    It’s entirely possible that Horne, Lindquist and Madsen are all wrong. Why don’t you get to the bottom of the story and quit quibbling over this “radio station call-in hour?” So what if Mr. Ugas came to work, then decided to take a day off so he could represent his position on the radio show?

  14. Dale, Albert !

    Are your two boys posting from home, or did you take more vacation days ?

    Dale, you had better rein in your Little Rent Boy, he’s making you look even more ignorant then most currently believe that you are !

    Pulling out the popcorn, the Dale and Albert Show is on AGAIN !

  15. “As a taxpayer I want to know if the Assessors Office was being properly administered by Mr. Washams predecessor?”

    tree_guy, where have you been?

    We already know that the some of the valuations where done using an alternative valuation method. From the audit report: “… properties were revalued by comparable sales analysis and other statistical means.”

    However, the assessor’s office is not authorized to use alternative valuation methods.

    The questions are: how much has the individual taxpayer been hurt; how much will it cost to do a complete investigation; how do you make amends; and is it worth spending a boat load of money to find out?

    Clearly the there has been some harm, as some folks have underpaid their share of taxes and some overpaid. But how much?

    The performance audit seems to think there was no harm. Which I don’t totally buy.

    However, if it turns out to be a couple of bucks per person, then it’s really not worth spending thousands, maybe millions, of dollars to find out.

    Plus, where is the money to investigate going to come from? Clearly it’s not in the Sheriff’s budget.

    I think the practical course to take is to just sweep the mess under the rug and move on.

  16. tree_guy says:

    “Clearly the there has been some harm, as some folks have underpaid their share of taxes and some overpaid. But how much?” fatuous

    How will sweeping this under the rug help us determine the level of harm to local taxpayers? And why shouldn’t Madsen’s unprofessional conduct be called into review? Uninvestigated crime in government offices, it seems to me, is especially corrosive to confidence in government activities. This concern for investigatory budgets is so convenient for elected scoundrels. Of course there isn’t enough money to find out if our officials are crooks.

  17. nwcolorist says:

    The focus on Washam and Ugas is an attempt to avoid the spotlight being put on Madsen’s role in this mess. This whole thing could very easily be Pierce County’s Watergate – a real nightmare for the ‘good ole boy network.

  18. I disagree with sweeping under the rug. We’ve seen that, done that already done and its been ineffective.
    Best thing is for Pierce to stop the drain by just getting an outside investigation, placing the whole thing on the table cleanly and clearly and stop all the back and forth games. Just be and act responsible and clear this matter up.. otherwise it will always stink.

    But a bigger issue is what steps our local leaders have implemented to assure this will never happen again.

    That to me is the biggest problem all this ignore and smoke and mirrors has missed. What in the last 5 + year s have our Exec’s and Council done to implement changes/ legislation that will prevent any chance of this occurring again and protecting all taxpayers here?

    If NOTHING has been done at this level, then our leaders have continued to drop the ball and will continue to do so at the taxpayers expense and thats frightening.

    PS: many jobs will have employees go “off the clock” and take personal/ vacation time while still at work if they are conducting private business… to include using vacation time. Been there done that. The validity of Ugars claim will be on his time card…no vaca day claimed ….then its a lie…

  19. Fatuos has it about right, but I come down on the side of wanting to know more. There certainly is a political elite machine in Pierce County/Tacoma – this particular issue may well not be worth more than a dollar or two to each taxpayer – but that’s not established.

    What certainly is established is accountability within the ‘machine’ for real estate related financial transactions – the general problem of real estate fraud makes the investigation of this specific related case worthwhile.

    As I interpret this matter Mr. Lindquist will be quite willing to prosecute the victims of the ‘machine’s’ financial scandal, but not those with the greatest authority and responsibility.

    Isn’t respect for the law, the public dollar, and the constitution every bit as important as the property rights of banks in a foreclosure proceeding?

  20. norse1943 says:

    Washam needs to be recalled; not Lindquist. Sooner we are rid of him the better. His election was a fluke attributed to Rank Choice Voting, which fortunately is gone!

  21. tree_guy says:

    “Not the Assessor-Treasurer’s office’s finest half hour”

    Ironically, the worst half hour under Washam’s leadership is better than the best half hour under his predecessor Mr. Madsen, who failed to properly assess the county property.

  22. Until Pierce County voters demand objectivity and integrity in their government officials, nothing will change. The last time I checked, Pierce County prosecutor’s office seems to determine how much attention to pay to a situation by how much the potential civil judgment is likely to be.

    If they see little likelihood of losing a big judgment, then they see little purpose in poking around in the compost pile.

    Just keep your eyes on the City of Tacoma domestic violence counselor situation. Pierce County is doing its best to stay under the radar and make sure nobody questions its role in that mess.

    The problem is much deeper than just one bad apple in the City of Tacoma government. Just like the Brame case, nobody really wants to know the truth and they will spend lots of taxpayer dollars to make sure the truth stays out of the light deep in the compost pile.

    Pierce County voters have to get mad before any changes will happen.

  23. olympicmtn says:

    Kim, Take note of who is endorsing Lindquist now that the TNT is claiming they did not endorse Pearsall-Stipek. I am waiting for Mark French to endorse him next.

  24. olympicmtn says:

    What we can learn from history of the corruption of Pierce County and work by KING 5 reporters, not our local reporters (watchdog group that helped change the laws) This is why we need oversight and investigations.

    CLEAN’s most notable achievement in forcing government accountability may be its aggressive monitoring of election practices in Pierce County. In 1996, the group won a cease-and-desist order from the state Supreme Court that stopped Pierce County from counting absentee ballots more than a week before election day. CLEAN showed that the Pierce County Auditor’s office – run by Cathy Pearsall-Stipek – was breaking the security envelopes, removing the ballot and re-marking ballots.

    Last year, an investigative report by KING-TV, which was prompted by CLEAN, found that Pearsall-Stipek’s office had apparently rigged ballot positions for local incumbents. The positions are supposed to be drawn randomly. But of 11 races, including her own, Pearsall-Stipek drew the incumbent’s name for the top ballot position 11 times. The auditor dismissed this as “an amazing coincidence.” KING-TV noted that the chances of this result were 12,000 to 1 and concluded that the auditor had used marked cards in drawing the positions.

  25. maggie54 says:

    It is a shame that Washam is being portrayed in such a bad way. I felt the wrath of Madsen to the point of being told that if I ever came to the office I would be arrested and all because I worked on the campaign of someone who ran against him. I am amazed at some of the individuals that have publically complained about Washam because their treatment of other employees in the office at the request of Madsen was disgusting and illegal. The previous post about the fact that Pierce County offiicials will do nothing to correct the problems is probably true after all look who is in the drivers seat…McCarthy (who counted the votes) is a clone of her predessesors..(Ladenburg and Stipek, two very corrupt individuals).. In addition look at the history of Pierce County..A murderer/rapist for Chief of Police…A pervert for Pierce County Sheriff…Over and over again individuals who broke the law are protected because of who they know. If the current prosecutor or judges did anything to look into these problems it would be political suicide…

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