Court: Effort to recall Port commissioner can proceed

Thursday, August 14, 2008 – Page updated at 03:14 PM

By Bob Young
Seattle Times staff reporter
An effort to recall Port of Seattle Commissioner Pat Davis can proceed, the Washington State Supreme Court ruled today.

Although he won the case, Renton activist Chris Clifford faces another tough challenge in his quest to oust Davis: He has to collect about 155,000 signatures from King County voters in the next six months to get a recall question on the ballot.

This afternoon, Davis, whose term expires next year, said she would not seek re-election. Still, Clifford is determined to press on with the recall.

Clifford, a teacher who argued his own case before the Supreme Court in June, said he doesn’t have any financial benefactors and doesn’t plan to spend any money gathering signatures.

“I’m not going to get paid signature-gatherers. I’m a teacher, I’m not rich,” Clifford said.

In a unanimous decision, the court ruled that Clifford had sufficient legal grounds to ask voters if Davis committed malfeasance by signing a 2006 memo that sought to give former Port CEO Mic Dinsmore almost an additional year of $339,841 salary after he retired in March 2007.

That memo amounted to an unlawful gift of public funds, Clifford argued. Port officials refused to give Dinsmore the money after Davis’ memo was made public.

King County Superior Court Judge Charles Mertel decided last year that Clifford could pursue a recall. Davis appealed to the state’s highest court.

Davis’ lawyer, Suzanne Thomas, had argued that Clifford failed to specify a law that Davis broke, as required by a malfeasance charge, and any potential harm to taxpayers was cured by the Port commission’s decision not to give Dinsmore the retirement package.

Bob Young: 206-464-2174 or

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

~ by fredfelleman on August 14, 2008.

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