This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.
Dale Washam is not done for, not yet
While the campaign to recall Washam marked an important milestone last week, Pierce County citizens still have a ways to go to remove the disastrously incompetent assessor-treasurer from office.
Recall backers have pulled off an impressive feat, no question. Not only did they clear the hurdles erected by state law, knocking down a couple of obstacles along the way, they also met a bar for signature gathering that was, in this instance at least, more than twice as high as the one set for statewide initiatives.
Last Thursday, Puyallup resident Robin Farris, the leader of the recall effort, submitted signatures equal to 16 percent of the county electorate. By comparison, Tim Eyman has to convince only 7 percent of Washington voters to sign his petitions to qualify an initiative for the ballot.
A well-run recall campaign gets some of the credit, but the strong showing is first and foremost a public rebuke of Washam’s abuse of office.
The former salesman who ran for office repeatedly before getting elected by a fluke in 2008 has become a major liability for taxpayers.
He’s bullied employees, retaliated against whistleblowers, defied county laws, and spent untold time and money pursuing a foolish vendetta against his predecessor. Pierce County is facing claims totaling $4.3 million for his misdeeds.
Taxpayers would do well to be rid of him, and the sooner, the better.
To that aim, complacency is the enemy. The recall campaign still needs about 15,000 more signatures to help build a cushion against the inevitable errors that turn up during election officials’ verification process.
Pierce County citizens need to step up now or risk giving Washam another year to wreak havoc.
Four independent investigations of Washam paint a picture of a man who turns on anyone who dares question his crusade to see his foes tried in court for using the wrong method to estimate property values.
A fifth probe is now pending: A complaint before the county’s ethics commission alleges Washam has violated ethics rules in the pursuit of his grudge.
The commission can levy fines and civil infractions; it cannot remove Washam from office. No county official has figured out how to do so, despite a law that calls for the discharge of county officers who retaliate against employees.
Voters are apparently on their own. It falls to them to remove a clear threat to the health of county government by voting to recall Washam in November.
But first anyone who hasn’t already done so should get themselves to a recall petition and sign it.
For information on where to sign recall petitions or how to get involved in the campaign, go online to www.recalldalewasham.org.