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Tag: Dale Washam


Legislature considers letting county councils suspend future Dale Washams

County commissioners and county councils can suspend a county treasurer who is accused of misconduct. But they can’t suspend an assessor-treasurer, which is the name of the dual job in Pierce County.

That nuance in state law has come under question after Dale Washam’s four-year reign at the assessor-treasurer’s office.

Sen. Mike Carrell and a bipartisan group of fellow Pierce senators — Jeannie Darneille, Bruce Dammeier, Steve Conway and Randi Becker – want to sync up the suspension authority for elected treasurers and assessor-treasurers. Their proposal, if it had been law, would presumably have allowed Pierce County Council to do something akin to impeaching Washam.


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Longtime assessor-treasurer staffer, Billie O’Brien, will run for the top job against her boss and others

The already crowded field of candidates for Pierce County Assessor-Treasurer got a bit more crowded.

Billie O’Brien, the administrative manager of the assessor-treasurer’s office, declared her candidacy today, making her the fifth announced candidate. If her current boss, Dale Washam, seeks a second term as is expected, there will be six candidates. The top-two vote-getters in the August 7 primary will face off in November.

O’Brien has worked in the agency that assesses the value of county property for taxation purposes for 21 years.

Billie O'Brien

O’Brien said her first job was in the land segregation department. After passing the state exam to become an accredited appraiser, she worked as a residential appraiser for over 10 years. She worked both in the field on appraisals and as a supervisor before becoming administrative manager a job that saw her managing all the property tax and administrative functions of the office for more than nine years.

O’Brien is a member of the International Association of Assessing Officers and past president and secretary-treasurer of the West Puget Sound Chapter where she still serves as a standing member of the executive board.

O’Brien says she will run as the candidate with actual knowledge and experience in the assessor-treasurer’s office.

“The office of Assessor-Treasurer demands broad-based, experienced leadership and is not the place for on the job training. I believe it is time the residents of Pierce County were given the option to choose someone with the practical experience that will provide common sense leadership to this office,” she said.

The other announced candidates are Pierce County Councilman Tim Farrell, former Tacoma city councilmen Spiro Manthou and Mike Lonergan and political newcomer David Gommenginger.

Here is O’Brien’s announcement

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Washam recall makes George Will column

Robin Farris’ campaign to recall Pierce County Assessor-Treasurer Dale Washam didn’t make the November ballot, but it has caught the eye of Washington Post columnist George Will.

Will, a staunch critic of campaign finance limits, takes on Washington state’s restrictions on donations to recall efforts, calling them “highly unreasonable – and unconstitutional” in his Thursday column.

Farris herself is no fan of those restrictions, having accepted the Institute for Justice’s offer earlier this year to challenge the limits in court. In July, U.S. District Court Judge Robert J. Bryan issued a preliminary injunction that temporarily nullifies the state

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Washam recall supporters turn in signatures

Staff writer

Backers of a campaign to recall Pierce County Assessor-Treasurer Dale Washam shot their final bolt Tuesday. Now it’s all about the math.
Puyallup resident Robin Farris and her supporters turned in a final batch of recall petition signatures to the Pierce County Elections Center, just as the clock ticked down on an Aug. 30 submission deadline.

“I’m relieved,” Farris said. “I’m really almost kind of sad that it’s over, because we’ve met so may cool people. But I’m really more than anything just relieved, and I’m feeling confident, too.”

Washam did not respond to a voice-mail message left Tuesday with his assistant. He has faced the active recall effort since March 4, when the state Supreme Court ruled that the recall charges against him, if true, met standards of legal and factual sufficiency.

To qualify for the Nov. 8 general election ballot, recall backers must deliver at least 65,495 valid signatures, representing 25 percent of voters in the 2008 election that brought Washam to office.

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Washam speaks via Internet, proclaiming the good work of his office in 2010

Embattled Pierce County Assessor-Treasurer Dale Washam,

Dale Washam

who’s been silent for weeks as a recall effort against him gathered steam, posted an accounting of his office’s achievements for 2010 on his website this morning.

His list of accomplishments included the same information he presented to the Pierce County Council during its budget deliberations last month.

Washam, who frequently uses his county website as a pulpit, hadn’t put anything that stayed on his page very long since Nov. 4, when he published a copy of a letter from The News Tribune and his reply. The letter pertained to a story The News Tribune was preparing about Washam.

In the seven weeks since that posting, Puyallup resident Robin Farris gained support for her effort to recall Washam. Last week, Pierce County Superior Court Judge Thomas Felnagle ruled there are sufficient legal grounds for the recall effort to proceed to the signature-gathering stage.

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Deputy Assessor-Treasurer Ugas could be liable for legal bills in bid to recall Prosecutor Lindquist, county attorney says

An effort by Pierce County Deputy Assessor-Treasurer Alberto Ugas and another Pierce County resident to recall Prosecutor Mark Lindquist could cost the pair a lot of money in legal fees.

Lindquist says the recall is frivolous and believes it’s an attempt to influence the Nov. 2 General Election in which Lindquist is opposed by attorney Bertha Fitzer, who formerly worked in the prosecutor’s office.

When I asked Pierce County Communications Director Hunter George who would represent Lindquist and pay the legal bills in this case, I got this reply by e-mail from Chief Civil Deputy Prosecutor Douglas Vanscoy, who works for Lindquist.

“The County, including the Prosecutor’s Office, is precluded by law from supporting or opposing any recall or other ballot measure. The lone exception to that rule is a statute, RCW 4.96.041(3), permitting a county or other local government to pay the reasonable litigation expenses, including private counsel, incurred by the subject of a recall. The County may not be asked to pay for such expenses related to this particular recall, however. The state Supreme Court held in 1998 that courts are not “powerless to respond to intentionally frivolous recall petitions brought for the purpose of harassment. Attorney fees may be awarded against a petitioner who brings a recall petition in bad faith.”

Ugas could not be reached for comment this morning. He and Lake Tapps resident Dan Fishburn filed the recall petition against Lindquist last week, claiming Lindquist has failed to uphold the law by refusing to investigate allegations of wrongdoing by previous Assessor-Treasurer Ken Madsen and his staff.

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Washam’s deputy files recall petition against Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist, claiming Lindquist is obstructing justice

Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist won’t go after former Assessor-Treasurer Ken Madsen for allegedly falsifying county tax records, Deputy Assessor-Treasurer Alberto Ugas says.

So Ugas, in his status as a private citizen, is going after Lindquist.

Prosecutor Mark Lindquist

Ugas and Dan Fishburn, a local general contractor, launched a recall drive against Lindquist this week.

The six-page “Citizens Recall Petition” is accompanied by 624 pages of assertions, documents and exhibits that Ugas says proves the case that Lindquist should be recalled, Ugas told me last night.

Ugas and Fishburn claim Lindquist obstructed justice by actively discouraging police agencies from investigating claims of wrongdoing in the office of former Assessor-Treasurer Ken Madsen.

Lindquist, who was appointed prosecutor last year, is seeking election to a four year term. One of his former prosecutors, Bertha Fitzer, is opposing him in the Nov. 2 general election.

He discounts the petition as frivolous and says he’s done his job to the absolute letter of the law.

“Both the sheriff and I take seriously any allegations of criminal conduct,” Lindquist told me this afternoon. ” I’m confident that the sheriff’s office will look at this (the allegations of illegal activity  in Madsen’s office)  and after the sheriff’s office looks at it, they will discuss it with us.”

“We have not advised the sheriff’s office or anyone else not to investigate this,” Lindquist said. “That’s absurd.”

The recall petition appears to be the latest salvo in a barrage of complaints, letters and public pleas from the office of Assessor-Treasurer Dale Washam to investigate alleged wrongdoing by former Assessor-Treasurer Ken Madsen.

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Washam sets another public meeting Nov. 1

Pierce County Assessor-Treasurer Dale Washam has set another in his continuing series of public meetings to talk about the county property tax system.

It’s scheduled from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Nov. 1 at the South Hill library, 15420 Meridian E.

He wants people to know about physical property inspections that were skipped from 2001-2008 in favor of statistical analysis of values, he has said. State law requires an in-person assessment of a property every six years.

Washam has tried unsuccessfully to convince authorities to launch a criminal investigation into the actions of his predecessor, Ken Madsen.

Here’s a copy

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