Facts: Petitioner Arthur West submitted a petition to recall Port of Olympia Commissioner Paul Telford to the Superior Court for Thurston County, asserting that Telford had committed malfeasance by approving expenditures without a comprehensive plan as required by Washington Revised Code §53.20.010 and by approving a lease without subjecting it to State Environmental Policy Act (Washington Revised Code §43.21C) review. The trial court ruled that the charges in Telford’s petition were insufficient to place the recall on the ballot. Telford subsequently appealed the trial court’s decision to the Supreme Court of Washington, asserting that the charges were sufficient and that Washington Revised Code §29A.56.110, which requires that recall petitions be reviewed by a superior court for legal and factual sufficiency, is an unconstitutional infringement of the right to recall public officials conferred by Article I §33 and Article I §34 of the Washington State Constitution.
Question(s): Are the charges against Telford factually and legally sufficient?
Is §29A.56.110 an unconstitutional infringement of the right to recall public officials?
Conclusion: Justice Madsen’s opinion for a unanimous Court affirmed the trial court’s decision, concluding that the charge that Telford had violated §53.20.010 by approving expenditures without a comprehensive plan was insufficient insofar as §53.20.010 does not require that comprehensive plans be contained within a single document. The Court also held that the charge that Telford had violated §43.21C by approving a lease without subjecting it to the review mandated by §43.21C was insufficient insofar as Telford had acted under the Port of Olympia’s determination that the lease was exempt from review and therefore had not intended to violate §43.21C. Finally, the Court ruled that §29A.56.110 is not unconstitutional as case law has construed Article I §33 as requiring a showing of cause for recall.
Docket No. 81865-7
Appellant: Arthur West
Respondent: Paul Telford and Bill McGreggor
Decided: Thursday, May 7th, 2009
Prevailing Party: Paul Telford and Bill McGreggor (Respondent)
Court: Alexander4 Court (2008-2009)
Note: We post only slip opinion(s) as published at the time of the decision. Please consult Washington Reports printed volumes for the opinion(s) in their final form.