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Failure of Washam recall effort means it’s up to voters now

Post by TNT Editorial Board / The News Tribune on Sep. 14, 2011 at 6:24 pm with 13 Comments »
September 16, 2011 8:43 am


This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.

It sure wasn’t for lack of trying.

Robin Farris’ signature-gathering campaign to recall Pierce County Assessor-Treasurer Dale Washam came up achingly short. She just missed clearing a very high bar of collecting the 65,495 signatures needed to put a recall measure on the November ballot. Percentagewise, she needed to collect more than twice the signatures required to get a statewide initiative on the ballot.

That Farris’ campaign was unsuccessful is a disappointment to The News Tribune editorial board. Like many, we’ve been dismayed by Washam’s erratic, unethical behavior since taking office in January 2009. He has retaliated against whistle-blowers, misused his office’s resources to further personal vendettas and created a hostile workplace.

Washam’s behavior has been costly. Pierce County faces $4.3 million in claims for damages filed by current and former employees of Washam’s office. He faces a hearing before the county ethics commission on a citizen’s complaint that he violated the county ethics code on 15 occasions.

Most recently, county Auditor Julie Anderson banned him from her office unless he has specific business or an appointment because of what she calls “harassing and unprofessional” behavior toward Anderson’s assistant.

Despite the failure of the recall campaign, concerned county residents can be confident that if Washam decides to run for re-election next year, he’ll face infinitely more competent opposition. Pierce County Councilman Tim Farrell has announced his candidacy, and outgoing state Auditor Brian Sonntag said Tuesday that he will consider running. (Read earlier blog posting here.)

That’s all well and good, but Washam still will have more than a year to do even more damage and run up the bill for county taxpayers.

Farris and those helping with her campaign deserve thanks for their hard work in trying to rectify an unfortunate situation. At the very least, their oh-so-close effort should tell Washam that more than 64,000 county voters want him out of office.

Leave a comment Comments → 13
  1. Sroldguy says:

    So far the public has gone against your editorial campaign against Washam and your editorial that the teachers should go back to work.

    You should consider an editorial to send more troops to Afghanistan and just maybe then they will all be home by the end of the year?

  2. mattersnot1 says:

    You’re barking up the wrong tree, Cheryl.
    Do you have “first hand knowledge” of the allegations made against Mr. Washam or are you just aping gossip? The people want to know.
    We will accept a guilty verdict against Mr. Washam when he has had his day in court and we don’t mean “Kangaroo Court” either.
    You keep up your unwarranted attack on Mr. Washam and the people will make sure he is reelected.

  3. PumainTacoma says:

    By reading this we almost thought you were defending yourself for endorsing Pearsall Stipek again after her choking incident of citizen bystanders and the Riccobono case costing the county millions after lying about having a college education on her county endorsed and paid for voter’s pamplet which “of course” the Tribune looked into. Right?

    The truth is Washam is the squeeky wheel about all the commercial fraud, waste and abuse going on in south Pierce County real estate these days. Wait until more shoes drop from the Puyallup real estate scandal involving many “highly recognized” “Tribune community” realtors after the Shawn Portmann indictments spew their guts.

  4. If Washam isn’t getting paid by the Trib for the use of his name, he should be. All that free smoke & mirrors to sell papers. Well, all’s fair in love and war.

    Speaking of war, what is the standard for actual malice in conjunction with libel? What is the standard for interfering with the recall process? What is the standard for sour grapes, a condition with which the Trib appears to be afflicted?

    Since the Trib seems convinced that Washam is going to do more damage and cost the taxpayers of Pierce County more dollars, maybe the readers should know what Washam has done since the “whiners” filed their lottery ticket claims. Seems like I’ve read more than one comment that claims he’s hunkered down in his office bothering no one.

    So I guess that now he’s survived the signature gathering, he’s going to unleash the hounds and wreak mayhem on all within reach? Yikes, this isn’t even as good a plot as I came up with in the sixth grade.

    Actually, I’m praying that the grownups take over now that the children have been chastised. Nut that may be too much to hope for. This editorial would seem to show that the Trib is deteermined to pick the next assessor-treasurer. I’m not sure you should be letting people know when you’re planning to pull off a heist but what the hey.

    Let’s try some prophecies since I called this one right (failed signature effort). I predict that within three months, Washam will uncover evidence of serious fraud/bribery (he may have already but he’s keeping it quiet). Also, I predict that Jack Connolly quietly drops his representation of the whiners when his investigators obtain incriminating documents that show the whiners are using damage claims to cover their butts. I also predict that there will be at least two lawsuits filed against some of the people pushing this recall (but not for the recall effort itself).

    I predict that Sonntag will not get re-involved with the sticky dirty mess called Pierce County politics.

    Last but not least, the PDC will be Very active once it is established that the law is still in effect and was never not in effect.

    Act 2 of a three act play has begun.

  5. jimkingjr says:

    So we wait until January 1, 2013 to see Dale Washam in our rear-view mirrors…

    It will still be “Good riddance!”

  6. Uh-oh. jimkingjr is going to be sooooo disappointed. Call your mental health counselor quick so you can beat the rush.

  7. I have announced my candidacy for Pierce County Assessor-Treasurer as well. You can learn more about me at or

    Corrigan Gommenginger

  8. Well, Corrigan, good luck with that.

  9. Now vote this character out of office!

  10. Dear_John says:

    Does your 4.3 million in claims include Williams’ original claim; because he took a pay off, um, settlement. How many of the complaints have been filed in a court of law? Zero? Was the claim that was settled ever filed in a court? No?

  11. Dear_John says:

    60 thousand Pierce County voters is a minority. I wish someone kept track of the 180 thousand who refused to sign the recall. lol
    I laugh every time I remember how the recall supporters boasted that they would have the needed signatures in a couple of weeks. LOL

  12. geeterpontiac says:

    I’ve always thought Mr Washam’s election was as much a result of an unusual election process, and the general populaces dissatisfaction with politics in general, as a specific endorsement of Washam himself. Voters often tend to vote as much against something, or someone. Many voters simply feel like they are being ignored by the politicians. So, a Washam comes along, meaning someone not part of the political establishment, they basically say, “what the heck”, it can’t be any worse than now. And, incidentally, much of that populace looks at the TNT not as a independent voice who gives us data and facts, but rather an active advocate for an agenda and/or political party and this important because it means a big chunk of the population out here doesn’t trust the TNT to be honest. So, why would we expect you to be honest about Washam?

    As an example, when Washam was first elected the TNT took the position it was a disaster and he was doomed to fail from the beginning. And, in retrospect, it seems you folks set out to ensure your prophecy was fulfilled. You bashed him on a continual basis, and in a very real sense created misery for everyone involved. Have you ever stopped to consider that your constant attacks could very well have prompted some of the discord and subsequence lawsuits that have resulted? Couldn’t the TNT be viewed as actually having covertly encouraged such activity? Many of us think the answer is, yes!

    When the recall campaign got going, the TNT stumped for and promoted it, and did everything possible to get it on the ballot. You burned resources; money and peoples time in order to try to make it happen. Now, you may claim all this was done in the public interest, but shouldn’t a line have been drawn somewhere?

    And finally, I just shook my head at your lack of common decency in regard to his private life. Yes, some of his life seemed somewhat off the wall, but what did those revelations contribute to the discussion of his job performance? And, how many of us (as human beings) don’t have our own idiosyncrasies that if known, wouldn’t be an embarrassment, especially if presented with intent to attack and diminish us as a human being?

    And to think, all this, to save 12 months?

  13. ldozy1234 says:

    Go Geeter!
    I absolutely agree that the TNT is probably culpable for the resulting proposed employee claims they keep saying we face…kinda reminds me of the Barbara Corey issue… if I remember right the TNT’s actions had a part in her successful $ 3 million dollar suit….. guess the TNT is trying to top that one… ahh well
    another thing we owe them thanks for!

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