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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 with 17 Comments »
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.

Leave a comment Comments → 17
  1. hortonpeak says:

    I only wish the “news” tribune had done proper reporting before we the people had to deal with situation. I guess it was just being consistent with its past performance of reacting only when it had egg on its face. Cheers.

  2. mattersnot1 says:

    This has to be the worse case of the Court legislating from the Bench.
    .
    They violated our State Constitution, Art I, sec 34. Only the legislature has authority to establish procedure regarding Recalls. Our Supreme Court has no authority to change the procedure established by the Legislature.
    .
    They violated State Statute, 29A.56.140. The Superior Court had to make a determination within 15 days. The Superior Court didn’t do it. Our Supreme Court ignored this limitation. Our State Constitution did not grant our Supreme Court the authority to do this.
    .
    In essence, Our Supreme Court has spit in the face of our State Constitution and our State Legislature. We are now seeing how much we will miss Richard Sanders.
    .

  3. hortonpeak says:

    Damn, I thought it was always about we the people. I guess mattersnot is not one of we the people or is it a matter of details. But, then, had the “news” tribune done its duty of “in depth” reporting about ranked choice voting and secondly done the necessary reporting on Washam then we would not be dealing with this. That said, I cannot totally demean the “news” tribune since they are competing with other deep programs such as “Dancing with who has the best PR agent”, American Idol (love the snarky comments), oh wait I have a twitter message ……….

  4. mattersnot1 says:

    One more thing – This ruling will cut the legs out from any future Recall effort.
    .
    The prosecutor can file the Recall Petition, but won’t have to set a hearing date for months or maybe never. Our Supreme Court just did away with the determination hearing limitation.
    .
    For every action, there is a reaction and the consequences may bite you in the butt.

  5. mattersnot1 says:

    @hortonpeak
    .
    I am very much a supporter of individual rights regardless of who they are or what the right is. Mr. Washam has the right to DUE PROCESS. He didn’t get it.
    That’s what bothers me.
    .
    What the Supreme Court did violated all of our rights, including your’s and mine.

  6. hortonpeak says:

    I cannot refute the legal details – nor should i. The point is that, it does not alter the dismal record of the “news” tribune. I, for one would submit, that Mr. Washam was elected in part by the, oh isn’t he an eccentric, publicity over the years provided by the tribune. Yes, there are consequences and those who provide the “authoritative” commentary each day have a particular responsibility. But then, they too are a business and how can a serious entity compete with those who only provide the necessary commentary to make their profit for the day. Cheers.

  7. hortonpeak says:

    To Mattersnot, I agree with you totally on the legal aspects. My point is that the “local” paper of record did a dismal job of reporting until the crap hit the fan. Then, as usual, they try to cover their asses. Is it their fault? Perhaps not, but those good old market forces do dictate the “news” that folks receive. Marketing is not a “major” degree in many colleges because of the pursuit of knowledge. In a nutshell, when “news” is dictated by the market we are all vulnerable to manipulation. Meantime, I really wonder where those folks who pushed ranked choice voting have gone – perhaps they are Dancing with the …. Cheers to all.

  8. Perspicacious1 says:

    Frankly, whatever the legal proceedings, Mr. Washam is certainly getting a better opportunity to defend himself than his employees have had. Where was their due process?

    Pierce County taxpayers should be absolutely lined up to sign the petitions! Their tax dollars are being spent to support Mr. Washam’s vendettas. That is not why he was elected. While it should not be a simple task to recall an elected official, the process should give us taxpayers an avenue that we can stop elected officials from abusing the power we entrust them with.

    Wonder what else Mr. Washam has done that we have not found out about yet?

  9. hortonpeak says:

    Perhaps the “news” tribune could, no would have, helped answer that question Perspic… Cheers.

  10. mattersnot1 says:

    re: Perspicacious,
    .
    The employees have their union and they used it successfully to their advantage. Mr. Washam has only the court and he should have the rights allowed him by law.

  11. hortonpeak says:

    “The employees had their union, Mr. Washam has only the court.” Hogwash, Mr. Washam also had the publicity given him over the years to gain name recognition. Did the employees have such recognition? I submit that most of the reporting done by the tribune has been very much anti-union and the only reason the employees are able to gain some recognition in the court is because of the union. Mr. Washam had much more when it came to the election and in reality you are placing the power of law and what is correct on the wrong person. Had there been no union Mr. Washam would have prevailed in court simply because of his election to office. I do not give the elected court officials the benefit of the doubt since they to are elected officials. There is a difference between the idealistic idea of the law and its application within a society influenced by other considerations.

  12. mattersnot1 says:

    hortonpeak,
    The employees didn’t go to court. Their union negotiated with the County and Mr. Washam. According to the Trib, the union won, therefore, the employees won. Yet, this isn’t enough. They want blood. This kind of behavior is appalling to me.
    .
    You seem to forget we are a Nation of Laws. Without these laws, we would be no more than a land of savages. That’s not to say I think all laws are good, but if we don’t like one, we have laws that allow us to change it.
    .
    In case you’re wondering, no, I am not related to Mr. Washam, as a matter of fact, I didn’t vote for him. I just very strongly believe in individual rights.

  13. hortonpeak says:

    That said, I respect your position. If the employees via the union are going beyond their rights then that is not acceptable. Also, I did not think you were necessarily a supporter of Mr. Washam. That you were unbiased in that regard was obvious. However, none of this changes my position that name recognition without in depth reporting of the particulars of a candidates positions, voting records, actions, behavior, etc. does provide that individual an advantage. Most of the time, it does not matter, but in some cases the whimsical treatment of perennial candidates or the non reporting of important actions does create problems. In my opinion, the tribune need not write over wrought editorials about the need for Mr. Washam’s recall when they helped at some level to create the situation. This is also, in my opinion, an isolated event. Cheers.

  14. Mattersnot1,

    Mr. Washam has had a bully pulpit for over 2 years. The procedural errors you are referring to favored Washam to insure that his rights were not infringed on. Are you seriously going to sit there and make an objection to the Court giving him MORE time to prepare a defense? The 15 day restriction is construed to give a defendant at least 15 days, you are barking about Judge Felnagle giving him more time…really?

    If you followed this process you would see that the reason the 15 day limit was exceeded was because of Washams alleged (false) testimony about how he was not properly served when he knows quite well he was.

    As for the Union protecting the employees you are misinformed. The Union is toothless. The employees are pawns in a political mess that they have no control over.

  15. mattersnot1 says:

    yesican,
    Don’t just except what you’re told. I have read every brief, transcript and ruling of the Court. I am also very familiar with court rules. Mr. Washam could not have been served timely. Local court rules require service 5 court days before hearing. By Ms. Farris’ own admission, she didn’t serve her amendments on the Auditor until the Wed before the hearing. The hearing was on the following Mon. Even if the Auditor had served Mr. Washam the same day, it would have only been 3 court days. Mr. Washam did not cause the delay.
    .
    Laws are not written to tell you what you can do. They are written to tell you what you cannot do. In my opinion, the Superior Court erred when it ruled to consider the amendments and reset the determination hearing beyond the 15 day limitation. If the Legislature intended for the limitation to be flexible, it would have said so. There has been much case law on this. According to the court transcript, Mr. Washam reminded the judge of the limitation. The judge said he was aware of it. Yet, he ignored it. The Court could have rescheduled within the limiation, but chose instead to reschedule beyond the limitation period. There was nothing more Mr. Washam could have done to prevent the delay.
    .
    I agree with your last statement. Union leadership are political animals. The more wages they obtain for the memberships, the higher your dues become, thereby, enriching the union leadership. Smart employees would not seek higher wages. They would only seek better benefits. The higher your income, the higher your personal income and other payroll taxes. Benefits are not taxed.
    .
    It will be extremely interesting to read the opinion when it comes out. I wonder how they will justify ignoring the Constitution and State Statute. It better be good or it will open the door for Mr. Washam to march right into Federal Court.

  16. mattersnot1 says:

    Oops. The word should have been accept, not except.
    .
    That’s what happens when trying to comment when I should have been snoring logs.

  17. And if he “marches into federal court, I hope his wife marches in with him and sues for invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

    She is not a public person yet the Trib held her up to public ridicule.

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