Inside Opinion

What's on the minds of Tacoma News Tribune editorial writers

NOTICE: Inside Opinion has moved.

With the launch of our new website, we've moved Inside Opinion.
Visit the new section.

Tag: Dale Washam

March
13th

Let’s make a deal, Dale: Step aside, get lawyer fees paid

This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.

Pierce County officials probably can’t propose this deal, so we will: If embattled Assessor-Treasurer Dale Washam agrees to go on paid administrative lead for the duration of his term, the county will continue paying his legal costs.

Last week, Washam was notified that Pierce County would no longer pay his legal bills because his actions continue to expose the county to liability.

Now the County Council has drafted a resolution asking Washam to resign. It has no authority to suspend or fire the assessor-treasurer, an independently elected official, and a citizens’ petition effort last summer fell just short of gathering enough signatures to put a recall before voters. Read more »

Oct.
4th

Federal probe just the latest chapter in sorry Washam saga

Washam

This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.

If Pierce County Assessor-Treasurer Dale Washam is feeling at all vindicated by the failure of the recall campaign against him, perhaps news that he’s the subject of a federal investigation has provided something of a reality check.

The Department of Justice inquiry stems from Washam’s retaliation against Sally Barnes, a high-ranking office employee who had complained about how Washam treated her.

Barnes, who cited “intolerable working conditions” when she resigned in March 2010, is one of the employees suing Washam and Pierce County for damages. A fifth has reached a settlement.

The DOJ investigation – which grew out of an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission determination that Washam likely had violated Barnes’ civil rights – could go away if Barnes reaches a settlement with Pierce County. Or the DOJ could continue investigating – and even sue the county – if it’s not satisfied with the terms of the settlement.  Read more »

Sep.
21st

The Washam recall campaign, a la George Will

Be sure to read George Will’s column Thursday (it will post here online after midnight). As noted in the Political Buzz blog, Will is writing about how Washington state’s campaign finance laws make it almost impossible for recall campaigns to meet the high bar required to get on the ballot. And he uses the campaign to recall Pierce County Assessor-Treasurer Dale Washam to make his point.

As Will notes, the recall campaign mounted by Robin Farris was hamstrung by absurd restrictions on campaign donations. Fighting them took valuable time away from signature-gathering efforts, which ultimately fell just short.

Read more »

Sep.
14th

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

Washam

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. Read more »

Sep.
13th

Next county assessor-treasurer? How about Brian Sonntag?

On Monday, state Auditor Brian Sonntag announced he won’t run for re-election.

On Tuesday, we learned that the campaign to recall Pierce County Assessor-Treasurer Dale Washam had fallen just short of the needed petition signatures.

Just a coincidence? Well, yes. But I couldn’t help wondering if one of Pierce County’s most successful politicians might be giving any thought to running for assessor-treasurer next year.

“To be honest, I hadn’t thought about it; I assumed the recall effort would be successful,” Sonntag said today. But, he noted, “Pierce County is still where my heart is. . . . I’d be interested

Read more »

Aug.
15th

The job of removing Washam is far from over

Dale Washam

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. Read more »

July
30th

When casting ballots, ignorance is dangerous

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Here’s the polite way to put it: Voters who’ve done their homework on the candidates and issues deserve a warm glow of civic virtue as they fill out their ballots.

A less polite version: Citizens who don’t have a clue should either educate themselves or leave the job of self-government to the better informed.

Consider the unfortunate fact that Will Baker and Robert Hill are the sole challengers of, respectively, Ryan Mello and Lauren Walker, sitting members of the Tacoma City Council.

Baker and Hill both have criminal records. Hill stalks women, has grave mental health problems and appears fixated on guns. Last December, he was convicted of stalking; in 2008, he was convicted of felony forgery.

Despite the forgery conviction and a string of arrests, Hill ran for Pierce County sheriff that year; he finished far behind Sheriff Paul Pastor but won 52,000 votes and beat out a third candidate.

Repeat: 52,000 people in Pierce County voted for a felon instead of a professional law enforcement executive. Maybe they liked his name.
Read more »

July
16th

A key victory for Washingtonians’ right to recall

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

The First Amendment and common sense prevailed Friday when the campaign to recall Dale Washam was freed from an arbitrary and crippling funding limit.

Washam has proven himself unfit for the office of Pierce County assessor-treasurer since he was elected in 2008. He has persecuted subordinates – incurring enormous legal claims against the county – and has used his position to pursue an obsessive vendetta against his predecessor.

His behavior has triggered four independent investigations, all of which found misconduct on his part. Washam must be removed before he causes more harm to the taxpayers and the department he supposedly runs.

But until Friday, the recall campaign led by Robin Farris of Puyallup had been hampered by an $800 state limit on individual donations that applies not only to cash contributions but also to volunteer professional services.

The state Public Disclosure Commission has fined Farris for accepting $20,000 worth of donated legal help from two public-spirited lawyers. The $800 ceiling on donations has also prevented her campaign from deploying enough petition-gatherers to cover the geographic immensity of Pierce County.
Read more »