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Tag: Dale Washam

Dec.
31st

Our hopes and wishes for a brighter new year

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Shake up that Etch A Sketch. A new year dawns – and so does hope that the world can move beyond the blunders, disappointments and nasty predicaments of 2012.
Some of our hopes for 2013:

• The drawdown of U.S. troops – including Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldiers – continues on course in Afghanistan. The bleeding ends.

• The Seahawks win the Super Bowl in February.

• Gov. Jay Inslee proves better at finding money for public schools than his campaign rhetoric suggested.

• Washington’s pot smokers obey the law that legalized marijuana – especially the parts about licensed sales, and keeping the drug out of sight and away from minors.

• Randy Dorn, the state superintendent of public schools, gives up the idea of suing the voters to stop charter schools.

• Lawmakers figure out that they can’t keep starving higher education without squeezing Washington’s economic future.

• The state figures out how to fund the extension of Highway 167 from Puyallup to the Port of Tacoma, and the construction of the cross-base highway from Frederickson to Interstate 5.

• Tacoma’s municipal unions join T.C. Broadnax’s effort to control city spending and preserve public services.

• Republicans start treating climate change as a scientific issue, not a partisan sledgehammer.

• After getting booted by the voters, former Pierce County Assessor-Treasurer Dale Washam fades into deserved obscurity.

• Afghans and Americans see unmistakable justice done for the appalling massacre of 16 Afghan villagers in March.

• Police solve the disappearance of Susan Powell, whose husband, Josh, murdered their two small boys and killed himself in February.
Read more »

Nov.
19th

The right of recall wins – too late to remove Washam

This editorial will run in Tuesday’s print edition.

Lost in the din on election day was a sweet little moral victory for the people who tried unsuccessfully to recall Dale Washam last year.

One of the many mini-dramas in the recall attempt was the way the Public Disclosure Commission stomped on the signature-gathering campaign before it even got started.

Robin Farris, who led the effort to unseat Pierce County’s extravagantly inept assessor-treasurer, had been getting pro bono legal assistance from two public-spirited Tacoma attorneys, Tom Oldfield and Jeff Helsdon.

Washington law allow recalls only on very narrow grounds; Oldfield and Helsdon helped Farris steer the petition through all the legal obstacles – Washam fighting all the way – until it finally won approval from the Washington Supreme Court.

The PDC, however, held that recall petitions were the legal equivalent of political campaigns rather than initiatives. Individual contributions to candidates are capped at $800 – a limit that doesn’t apply to ballot measures as constitutionally protected political expression.
Read more »

Nov.
17th

It’s official: PDC was wrong, Washam recallers were right

Lost in the din on election day was a sweet little moral victory for the people who tried to recall Dale Washam last year.

One of the many mini-dramas in the recall attempt was the way the Public Disclosure Commission stomped on the signature-gathering campaign before it even got started.

Robin Farris, who led the effort to unseat Pierce County’s flamboyantly incompetent assessor-treasurer, had been getting pro bono legal assistance from two public-spirited Tacoma attorneys, Tom Oldfield and Jeff Helsdon. They helped her negotiate the recall petition through a legal obstacle course that finally ended with its approval by the Washington Supreme Court.

In the process, the PDC decided that Farris had violated the state’s campaign finance laws – which then capped individual contributions to candidates at $800 – by accepting an estimated $20,000 worth of donated help from Oldman and Helsdon. The commission insisted on equating a recall effort to a candidate’s election campaign, and it continued to do so; as a result, Farris’ efforts were hobbled financially for months.

Finally, a libertarian outfit based in Virginia, the Institute for Justice, fought the PDC on behalf of Farris’ campaign and won an injunction that let her raise more money. The PDC challenged the ruling and the case bounced around the federal judiciary.
Read more »

Aug.
8th

Too few primary voters, but they made good choices

This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.

Sure, the Olympics are a distraction, many of us are on vacation and the weather’s been so sunny that perhaps it’s thrown Northwesterners for a loop. But does that explain the lower-than-expected turnout in Tuesday’s primary?

Going to an all-mail election statewide was supposed to boost turnout. After all, there’s no excuse for failing to vote when the ballot is right there on the dining room table.

Unless a whole lot of voters waited until the very last minute to return their ballots, it’s looking like turnout won’t reach the 46 percent that Secretary of State Sam Reed had predicted. That makes it hard to decipher what the results indicate about voter sentiment and what they portend for the Nov. 6 general election. Because this is a presidential election year, turnout is likely to be more than double what it was in the primary, possibly around 85 percent.
Read more »

July
8th

For assessor-treasurer: Tim Farrell or Billie O’Brien

Billie O'Brien

This editorial will appear in Monday’s print edition.

It might be hard to explain to an outsider why an office like assessor-treasurer is such a hot race in Pierce County this year.

You sort of have to live here. The incumbent is Dale Washam – a perennially unsuccessful candidate who managed to get elected under a fluky ranked-choice system in 2008. It was a year in which many new voters weren’t aware of Washam’s long and checkered history in Pierce County.

Tim Farrell

That’s not the case today. A voter would have to have been holed up in an isolated cabin in the Cascades not to have heard about all the trouble Washam has caused. His incompetence and abuse of county employees have cost taxpayers millions. If he’s re-elected, he’ll keep ratcheting up the bill.

Fortunately, he has four respectable challengers in the Aug. 7 primary – any of whom would be a huge improvement. The top two vote-getters will advance to the Nov. 6 general election.

Three candidates are political veterans familiar to local voters: Pierce County Councilman Tim Farrell and former Tacoma City Council members Mike Lonergan and Spiro Manthou. Read more »

June
30th

Washam’s stubbornness costly to county – and taxpayers

This editorial will appear in Sunday’s print edition.

For Pierce County government, tight budgets during the economic downturn have meant taking such belt-tightening measures as layoffs, furloughs and canceling Superior Court jury trials for two weeks to save the cost of paying $10 a day to members of the jury pool.

Next year’s budget looks even more challenging. Revenue is badly needed – especially new revenue.

An important source of that is the tax collected on new construction. But the county and other taxing districts could miss out on millions of dollars in new revenue for at least a year because Assessor-Treasurer Dale Washam has told his inspectors to focus exclusively on physical inspections of existing properties. Those inspections were at the crux of his vendetta against his predecessor, Ken Madsen.
Read more »

June
3rd

Yet more cause to show Dale Washam the door

This editorial will appear in Monday’s print edition.

Incredibly, if one reads online comments, Pierce County Assessor-Treasurer Dale Washam still has supporters – apparently enough that he’s inspired to run for re-election despite costing taxpayers more than $1.4 million to handle and settle lawsuits against him and being found in violation of county ethics rules.

Perhaps the latest news will chip away at that support. On Friday, the U.S. Justice Department filed suit against the county after its year-long investigation found that Washam had violated the county employees’ civil rights (Title VII of the Civil Rights Act). He had retaliated against them after they complained about how he was running the assessor-treasurer’s office. Read more »

May
22nd

It’s not too early to start focusing on the Aug. 7 primary

This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.

Campaign season won’t last forever; it’ll just seem that way as election signs sprout like weeds on roadsides and snarky ads start dominating television ad nauseum.

On Nov. 7, we’ll all sigh with relief, even if our favorite candidates lose, simply because it will all be over.

While much of the election season sturm und drang will be generated by the presidential race, voters should start focusing on a host of important state and local offices – including the entire U.S. and state House of Representatives – that also will be on the ballot.
Read more »