Dale Washam, the Latest Aroma from Tacoma: Master of the Recall Effort Now Facing Recall

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Washam
Tacoma is the place to go on a slow political day elsewhere. There's always the next act of Will Baker, the "International Man of Diplomacy" who got 410,000 votes for state auditor even after he was arrested for talking too long at City Council meetings. There was Superior Court Judge Michael Hecht, forced to resign after he was found guilty of soliciting a male prostitute. And there were the sheriffs arrested for child porn and taking payoffs, an auditor jailed for soliciting bribes, and a judge tossed from the bench for accepting a free Cadillac, to name a few. Now there's Dale Washam.

Pierce County assessor-treasurer Washam is the target of a recall effort for gross mismanagement and unlawful retaliation against his staff. That, by itself, isn't unusual for Tacoma and environs. But as the News-Tribune notes, Washam "knows the recall process well." Between 1994 and 2005, he tried and failed five times to recall opponents who defeated him in elections.

As well, he's thought to be behind a new recall effort against county Prosecutor Mark Lindquist, filed by Washam's chief deputy, Albert Ugas. The six-page "Citizens Recall Petition" is accompanied by 624 pages of assertions, documents and exhibits alleging Lindquist should be recalled for not pushing for an investigation of Washam's predecessor, Ken Madsen.

Madsen is one of the public officials that Washam tried to recall in past years for the kind of misconduct Washam is now accused of. Earlier this year, a county probe found Washam abused his authority, wasted public money and violated the county code and state and federal employment laws, resulting in his censure.

In October, Mark Williams, an employee demoted by Washam, filed a $750,000 damage claim against the county. He said he was defamed and subjected to retaliation by Washam, who posted messages on the county's website "suggesting my division was engaged in fraud and falsifying public documents."

Altogether, Washam's actions in office just since 2009, says the TNT, have spawned multiple complaints by employees, three independent investigations and three findings of misconduct. Cost of the investigations exceeds $100,000 in taxpayer money.

What does Washam have to say about all this? Not much. He doesn't respond directly to media calls, although he will allow the press to submit questions or inquiries in writing. Last week, News-Tribune Executive Editor Karen Peterson did just that.

She was wondering if he'd like to sit down for an interview and answer some questions. The paper is planning a story "that examines your life and career," Peterson wrote. It will be "lengthy and detailed."

Washam, being a public official, dutifully responded. "I respectfully decline," he said. Say this much, unlike the International Man of Diplomacy, Washam knows when to stop talking.

 
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