Inside Opinion

What's on the minds of Tacoma News Tribune editorial writers

NOTICE: Inside Opinion has moved.

With the launch of our new website, we've moved Inside Opinion.
Visit the new section.

A recall that targets the right official: Dale Washam

Post by Patrick O'Callahan on Nov. 20, 2010 at 4:30 pm |
November 19, 2010 3:34 pm

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Dale Washam, Pierce County’s embarrassment of an assessor-treasurer, apparently thinks of one thing night and day: getting someone – anyone – to prosecute his predecessor, Ken Madsen.

At this point, it’s abundantly clear that Washam is not capable of dropping this poisonous obsession, which long ago spilled over into the abusive treatment of his staff and illegal retaliation against employees who complained.

It’s also abundantly clear he is one very expensive public official. His abuses of office have already run up a six-figure tab for taxpayers, and employees he has mistreated will likely be collecting settlements mounting well into the seven figures.

The man simply must be stopped before he does more damage, because – bank on it – he will do more damage.

A resignation would be the honorable course, but Washam appears utterly incapable of finding any culpability in himself. The rolling disaster his administration has become is all the fault of others – especially the vast conspiracy frustrating his crusade to destroy Madsen.

The one way to dislodge Washam from office anytime soon is by recall. We encourage the citizens of Pierce County to assist the recall campaign launched by Robin Farris of Puyallup; she’s enlisting volunteers at recalldalewasham.org.

Those interested in preserving county services and keeping deputies on the roads should help her pry his costly, angry obsessions out of the county budget.

Speaking of recalls, the far-flung Madsen cabal recently acquired a new conspirator: King County Superior Court Judge James Cayce.

Cayce on Tuesday threw out a Washam-inspired recall attempt against Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist, who’d been insufficiently eager to get Madsen imprisoned for relying on computer-modeled assessments.

Five years ago, Washam tried to have Madsen recalled for dispensing with physical inspections; a Thurston County court threw out the recall on the grounds that there was a “legally cognizable justification” for using statistical methods. Like others, Lindquist isn’t clear on how a violation that can’t trigger so much as a petition drive can trigger a prison sentence.

The “frivolous” – that was Cayce’s word – attempt to recall Lindquist was initiated by Washam’s deputy, Alberto Ugas. Strange coincidence: 800,000 people in Pierce County, and the one who spots Lindquist’s supposed misconduct happens to be Washam’s confidant and comrade-in-arms.

Will Ugas appeal? By law, Lindquist must be defended with county funds – so ring up another bill on the public’s dime unless a judge sticks Ugas with the legal expenses.

Like so many things emanating from Washam’s office, the attack on Lindquist was eerie, irrational and disconnected from reality. Farris’ recall effort is anything but.

Washam Recall in court Monday
A hearing to determine whether the recall effort against Dale Washam can go forward will be held at 1:30 p.m. Monday in Judge Susan Serko’s courtroom, County-City Building, downtown Tacoma.

*
The News Tribune now uses Facebook commenting on selected blogs. See editor's column for more details. Commenters are expected to abide by terms of service for Facebook as well as commenting rules for thenewstribune.com. Report violators to webmaster@thenewstribune.com.