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Assessor-Treasurer Dale Washam wants Pierce County to pay his legal bills in recall effort against him

Post by Kris Sherman / The News Tribune on Dec. 23, 2010 at 6:41 pm with 22 Comments »
December 23, 2010 6:41 pm

Pierce County Assessor-Treasurer Dale Washam, facing a recall effort, is asking the County Council to approve payment of his legal bills in the case.

Pierce County Superior Court Judge Thomas Felnagle ruled last week that there are sufficient grounds in a recall petition to allow the effort to move to the signature-gathering phase.

Washam wants the county to pay the expenses associated with an appeal of that decision to the Washington Supreme Court, according to a note he sent to County Council members today.

The request isn’t unprecedented. The county paid the legal bills associated with recall attempts – filed by Washam – against former Auditor Cathy Pearsall-Stipek and former Assessor-Treasurer Ken Madsen.

Washam tried to recall Pearsall-Stipek four times between 1995 and 1999. The county paid her bills three of the four times. The council refused to pay when the recall effort centered on Pearsall-Stipek’s false statements in court.

Puyallup resident Robin Farris is leading the recall effort against Washam, who took office in 2009. There are many charges in the recall against Washam, who’s been found by independent investigators to have bullied and intimidated employees. Two workers recently filed claims for damages against the county because of Washam’s treatment.

Washam’s request comes one day after visiting Superior Court Judge James Cayce ordered Washam’s deputy to pay $50,000 in legal costs to Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist in Ugas’ failed recall attempt against Lindquist.

The judge previously threw the recall effort out and said it was a “bad faith” action. Ugas’ recall attempt came as Lindquist sought election this fall to the prosecutor’s job to which he’d been previously appointed.

Washam and Ugas have criticized Lindquist for refusing to investigate their complaints the former Assessor-Treasurer Madsen violated the law and cost taxpayers money by skipping required physical inspections of property. Investigators found the inspections were missed but concluded no harm was done.

Ugas has said he’ll appeal the decision on the Lindquist recall

Leave a comment Comments → 22
  1. DidYouConsider says:

    Whatever the County Council decides regarding payment of these legal bills, they should be consistent with past decisions made under similar circumstances. Otherwise their decision will be viewed as a strictly political decision showing favoritism. The appearence of favoritism must be avoided for the Council to retain credibility as impartial administrators of their elected positions.

  2. From this article, it seems that the county paid whenever the Superior Court ruled against the recall and the petitioner appealed. Not when the Superior Court found that the petition was legally and factually sufficient. The petition to recall Mr. Washam has five charges that were legally and factually sufficient.

    In order for the County Council to be consistent, they would NOT pay for Mr. Washam’s legal bills.

  3. Concernedfather says:

    Too late for that. They HAVE shown their bias.
    It was their Performance Audit Committee that filed the bogus “No harm was done” report.

    I am sick and tired of the TNT falsely claiming this is about “Skipped” inspections. It is about falsified public records, to say the inspections WERE done; when they were NOT. It is about fraud, and everyone knows it. That is why they are attacking Washum, he is blowing the whistle.

  4. DidYouConsider says:

    Concernedfather, you are correct on this point.

    The Tribune’s coverage of the corruption that pervaded the Assessor’s office prior to Washam’s election should be compared to the restaurant review scam the Tribune was caught up in a few years back. Like then, the reporting is suspect and should be regarded with skepticism.

    The News Tribune failed over and over again to investigate the probable criminal behavior of those who filed false reports in the course of their jobs before Mr. Washam became Assessor. This obvious bias by the Tribune has existed since the tremendous financial reward the Tribune received in the form of lower and lower and lower property taxes they had to pay over successive years under Mr. Washam’s predecessor. Why do the Tribune bosses refuse to comment on the issue? What does the Tribune have to hide? WAS IT A FORM OF PAYOLA? The Tribune’s refusal to address the issue speaks volumes.

    It sure smells like the Tribune’s restaurant review scam all over again.

  5. mattersnot1 says:

    If you want to get involved with legal matters, learn the law.
    After November 24, 2010, the Superior Court lost jurisdiction. Your Recall Petition is a nullity. It means your Recall Petition doesn’t exist.
    Read RCW 29A.56.140. The Superior Court HAD to hold a hearing and make a determination within 15 days. Mr. Washam, in open court, brought this time restraint to the attention of Judge Felnagle. The Judge admitted understanding it. Consequently, the issue is ripe for review.
    Yes, I’ve read the transcript (VRP). This is something you should have done before publically calling him a liar and setting yourself up for a defamation action. Mr. Washam did not lie to the court.

  6. Concerned Father,
    You are wrong…the recall is not about skipped inspections. There is no question about that. Mr. Madsen admitted it. This is about Mr. Washam’s treatment of his employees.

    Mattersnot1…I like your name.

  7. Concernedfather says:

    Silly Robin, you KNOW I was not talking about your frivolous recall. I am talking about the big picture, in which your recall is but a single pixel. The County is digging itself an ever deeper hole.

    When this all blows up you will be thrown under the bus.

  8. wyecoyote says:

    As far as Washam getting a payday he chose to represent himself. So any payment would be for filling fees and/or court fees only. He would not be paid for any of his time since he choose to represent himself. Now if he decided to hire counsel then that could be paid. I belive the precedent set by the counsel is to pay only if the recall petition is found to be invalid. Since of the 5 petitions they did pay for 4 of them when they were found to be invalid. Also payment hinges upon what the WA Supreme Court rules.

    Mattersnot1, You have two problems with what you state. 1) I belive Robin’s charge of lying by Washam is due to Washam stating in court he never received the amended petition. Which per Robin she states he did indeed receive an amended copy. If this is true then yes indeed he did lie and it is not defemantion. 2) Washam is now a Public Figure and the US Supreme Court has set a higher bar in regards to defimation of character. Which is why people can in the State of the Union call out to a sitting president “You lie.” and not be sued for defimantion. Or someone can state that a sitting President lied to get us into war. Much higher bar in terms of a Public Figure.

    Concernedfather, I belive that was covered in the Tribune’s articles and they have openly stated that the office did skip inspections under Madsen. Washam needs to get over it and get onto the job at hand. Something he does not appear willing to do. This recall petition centers around his treatment of staff personel and retalitor actions he has taken which has opened up tax payers to additional expenses in the form of the two lawsuits currently pending and his inability to actually manage personel. His lack of management skills shows. He has cost us well into the six figures and no I am not talking strictly about the legal costs from the complaints. I am also refering to the new SUV he just needed per Washam to do inspections, the office remodel he needed and moving appraisal staff from 4-10 hour days to 5-8 hour days which costs more money on a weekly basis.

  9. “After November 24, 2010, the Superior Court lost jurisdiction. Your Recall Petition is a nullity. It means your Recall Petition doesn’t exist.”

    We don’t know that yet. We will have to wait for the Supreme court to determine if the recall petition is still valid. Can you cite the law or court case in Washington state where the petition is invalid if it doesn’t meet the RCW 29A.56.140 requirement?

    My guess is that the Supreme will look at the reason for the delay and the length of the delay.

  10. “When this all blows up you will be thrown under the bus.”

    I already got thrown under the bus this month. I don’t know how many more times I can take.

    At any rate, let’s all try to keep to the topic and do our best to remain civil. Not everyone will agree with our point of view. Sometimes we just have to agree to disagree.

  11. I thought Mr. Washam promised to leave when the people, his employers, decided to fire him. Hasn’t that been his shtick for over a decade? Why then is he fighting our attempt to do so?

  12. mattersnot1 says:

    Have you read the transcript? I have it in front of me. Mr. Washam did not claim he wasn’t served. He stated he wasn’t served timely with the Amendments. The Judge asked Ms. Farris’ attorney if he had proof of service. Her attorney said he did not. Proof of timely service is required before the Court can hear a motion. (Pierce County Local Rules) Further, there was no motion filed to amend the original petition. Ms. Farris did not certify her original petition, which is fatal to the petition (case law on this). If the Court had made it’s determination at this hearing, it would have had to rule against the petition. Instead, the Court set the hearing over beyond the statutory 15 day limit. Judge Felnagle is a good judge, but he sure dropped the ball on this one.There is no case law allowing the determination hearing to exceed the 15 day limit. The statute is not ambiguous, therefore, the Supreme Court must give the statute’s words their ordinary meaning. They must also rule that if the legislature intended for the time limit to be flexible, it would have said so (a multitude of case law on these points).
    I distinctly remember Ms. Farris stating that Mr. Washam lied to the Court when he said he had to be at a foreclosure sale and that she had attended the sale and Mr. Washam wasn’t there. Mr. Washam made no mention, to the court, about a foreclosure sale. Furthermore, there was no need for Mr. Washam to be at the sale. He has staff to perform that function.
    I suggest you go down to the Clerk of the Court’s office and get a copy of the transcript and stop believe what others, with an agenda, tell you.

  13. maybe Washam can hire Ugas as a consultant and charge the state $50,000 big ones. It would be the good christian thing to do.

  14. I see nothing that suggests the recall effort will be anything but successful. Interesting battle lines. Between those who are able to accept interpretation of law in its application vs. those who insist it is the letter and the not intent of law that is most important? As Mr Gibbs told Jack Sparrow, “they’re more like guidlines”. All the talk about the petition being a “nullity” seems a mild distraction from the reality of the process at this point in time. The State Supreme Court is up now. I think it extremely unikely they will do anything other than deny Mr. Washam’s petition to throw out the recall over technical issues that are unrelated to the charges made against him.

  15. Concernedfather says:

    wyecoyote says:
    December 24, 2010 at 8:43 am
    Concernedfather, I belive that was covered in the Tribune’s articles and they have openly stated that the office did skip inspections under Madsen.

    My point, exactly! The terminology “skipped inspections” is being used to distract from the fact that public records were actually falsified.
    Skipping inspections is one thing, doctoring public records with FALSE inspections is a crime. A crime that no one wants to come to light. THAT is what is REALLY going on in this county. If I hear one more rube calling these 300,000 felony actions “skipped inspections” I might vomit!

  16. wyecoyote says:

    Concernedfather, “If I hear one more rube calling these 300,000 felony actions “skipped inspections” I might vomit!

    Skipped inspections, skipped inspections, skipped inspections. Hope you got the bucket close and don’t read this after Christmas Dinner.

    Terminology is used in fee appraisal work all the time. I assume that there is terminology used in the assessor offices as well. The “skipped inspections” as well I belive was a phrase first brought up by Washam himself in the 2005 recall petition.

    To me and the reason I don’t get all up in arms about the lack of inspections is simple. The physical inspections is done to collect new improvements to an existing property that were completed without permits. These are specifically exempt from the Eyeman initiatve which held the growth of gov’t to 1%. That is really the only reason to do these inspections. For more money to the gov’t from existing properties. Pierce County wouldn’t have such a problem with unpermited buildings if building and planning wasn’t so difficult to work with and getting worse. It is far cheaper to build and pay the fine than try to get permission.

    As I have said before I voted for Washam originally and now fully regret that vote. I voted for him to give an oppurtunity from someone outside of political office a chance. However, Washam has quickly become a joke in office and has shown a complete lack of management skills and ability to get the job done. There are ways to work within the system and he has shown he does not have the temperment or ability to do this.

    Reaslistically I wondered if he hasn’t railed against the system for so long that he wants to get thrown out so he can say woe is me. Or that he really is of the mindset the he must always have an adverserial role in life.

    Two wrongs do not make a right. And Washam for all his past and present claims is in the wrong.

    Oh and Merry Christmas. That part will probably get flagged but oh well.

  17. I’m speaking here only as a voter and a citizen of Pierce County. I don’t have the “papers right in front of me”, I can’t quote the RCW as though it were flowing through my veins. I don’t care what Washam said, or when he said it. I don’t even care if he tries to sue everyone including Dr. Suess for slander.
    What I DO care about is when will the recall petitions be ready and when can I sign one? If Robin is not successful in her recall action against this NUT JOB, then I will gladly learn from whatever errors, true or imagined, she has made and file the petition myself. If I should fail, I’m sure that there are HUNDREDS of citizens willing to follow me in turn until he is gone for good.
    Do yourself a favor, Mr. Washam. And the citizens of Pierce County as well. RESIGN!!! It’s like the fish said to the worm: “You can wriggle and struggle all you want, Slimey. This is going to happen”!

  18. mattersnot1 says:


    Let’s see now. You don’t care what legal papers say. You don’t care what the law says. You don’t care what Mr. Washam says or when he said it.
    Then, why do you what to recall him?

  19. Some food fight y’all got going here.

    One question: on what basis can the Supremes ignore the 15 day limit? There MUST be some authority somewhere for everything they do so where is it for this one point?

    Go back and read all my other questions about the legal errors I see in this case. Then tell me how those errors are going to fare in the Supreme Court.

    Face the truth, people. Judge Felnagle made a fatal legal error, and we will never know if he did it because he wanted to dump the recall or if he was just misinformed about the law. Even if he wanted to correct his error now, he couldn’t because he no longer has jurisdiction even under the most liberal reading of the recall law.

    By the way, all you rabid Washam hunters should be a bit wary about threats to file repeated recall petitions against him. Intimidation of a public official in the performance of his duties is a crime in Washington. Like it or not, Dale is a public official.

  20. I never stated that I wasn’t aware of the charges, upon what they are based, or the law as it pertains to recalling an elected official.
    What I said was, I’m an average voter. I know the facts that I need to know to make an informed decision without having to know the RCW chapter and verse. He never should have been elected in the FIRST place and wouldn’t have been if not for the nightmare known as RCV. He’s an egocentric nutjob that uses the law to push his own personal agenda. The quicker we get him out of office, the better AND cheaper it will be for the citizens. Lets get the recall process moving as fast and efficiently as is legally prudent. Yesterday would have been fine with me.
    Stating one’s displeasure with ANY public official is a far cry from a threat. Voicing the options that individual citizens have at their disposal with which to FIRE that official is also a far cry from a threat. I’m far from “rabid”. I’m a citizen and a voter that is tired of the unprofessional, unethical actions of this particular “public official” and I want him “FIRED” (HIS word, not mine).

  21. Dale and his boyfriend are gone !

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