Dale Washam, Said to be Chasing His Own Moby-Dick, Facing Court-Approved Recall

The drive to recall Mr. Recall was given court approval to proceed yesterday in Tacoma, where law and politics, when not weird, are dependably strange. Pierce County Superior court Judge Thomas Felnagl approved the legal and factual sufficiency of a petition by citizen Robin Farris to recall county assessor/treasurer Dale Washam. Washam, who failed five times to recall opponents who defeated him in elections the past 15 years and is thought to be behind a current attempt to recall the county's prosecutor, wasn't much of a sport about it.

He quarreled with Judge Felnagl - who compared Washam to the doomed fictional Captain Ahab - and, after court, implied he might raise the property tax of an opposing attorney. As he left, reports Sean Robinson of The News Tribune, Washam was serenaded by a group of protesters in masks.

Ferris, of Puyallup, can now begin gathering signatures for a recall election next year, accusing Washam of continued misconduct in office. In just the past two years, Washam's actions spawned multiple complaints by employees, three independent investigations and three findings of misconduct. Cost of the investigations exceeds $100,000 in taxpayer money.

On his way out of court, Washam stopped to vent to Ferris' attorneys, Thomas Oldfield and Jeffrey Helsdon.

Helsdon's eyes widened. He raised his voice and pointed. "Is that a threat, Mr. Washam? Is that a threat?" Washam walked away. A few moments later, Oldfield said Washam had asked him a question: "Do you own property in Pierce County?"

Helsdon said all they were trying to do was play Santa to Washam. "For many years, Mr. Washam has wanted to play a role in the successful recall of an elected official," said Helsdon. "Here in this Christmas season, he's getting his wish."

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