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Open the throttle on the Washam recall campaign

Post by Patrick O'Callahan on March 3, 2011 at 7:50 pm |
March 8, 2011 1:05 pm

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Thanks to the Washington Supreme Court, Pierce County is now only 65,500 signatures and one election away from recalling its disastrously incompetent assessor-treasurer, Dale Washam.

The court on Thursday unanimously approved the recall petition filed by Robin Farris of Puyallup, which Washam had attempted to tie up in a court challenge characteristically obsessed with minutiae.

The right to recall elected officials is embedded in the state constitution; it would be a meaningless right if targeted officeholders were permitted to delay and obstruct legitimate efforts to unseat them. The speed with which the justices rendered their judgment shows they understand that a recall delayed can quickly turn into a recall denied.

The petition against Washam is as well-grounded and necessary as the state has seen in decades. He’s been a one-man wrecking ball since the day he took office and began pursuing an obsessive, vindictive and foolish campaign to put his predecessor, Ken Madsen, in prison.

Every competent legal authority in sight rejected Washam’s crusade of vengeance, so he turned his malice on his own staff, harassing, demeaning, demoting and retaliating against professionals who knew infinitely more about the office than he did.

The inevitable investigations and legal complaints have put the cash-strapped county on the hook for settlements that may run into the seven figures. He’s shown no sign of understanding the damage he’s done or the mistakes he’s made, so there’s every likelihood he’ll keep running up the bill. This county cannot afford to keep this man in office a day longer.

Time is of the essence; the sooner Farris collects the signatures she needs, the sooner the county can replace Washam with a qualified assessor-treasurer with a clue about managing people.

A former military officer, Farris is putting together what looks like a well-oiled recall effort, with a quickly growing list of volunteers and prominent supporters. She and other leaders of the campaign are hitting the ground running, with signature-collection points established across the county.

This is an opportunity for any citizen concerned with the health of county government to step in and help remove a clear and present threat to the public treasury.

Recalls are not meant to be easy, and this won’t be. It will require nearly 65,500 legally qualified signatures, each of which must be verified by the Pierce County Auditor’s Office. The effort will require many citizens willing to circulate petitions and gather valid signatures. The box at left includes the link to a website that will connect volunteers with the campaign.

The supreme court recognized that this was a matter of urgency. Now that it’s decided, the urgency belongs to the citizens of Pierce County.

For information on where to sign recall petitions or how to get involved in the campaign, go online to this link.

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