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Recall court date set

The petition to recall the Island County Auditor is moving forward.

A hearing has been set at 9:30 a.m., Thursday, May 19, to decide if the petition to recall Island County Assessor Tom Baenen has merit to proceed. The court must decide if the acts outlined in the 12 charges satisfy the criteria for a recall, and if the proposed ballot synopsis is correct.

“These allegations are not particularly detailed,” said Oak Harbor Attorney Bill Hawkins, who is representing Baenen in the proceedings. “There is very little specificity, which is a major weakness.”

Among the charges former Island County Assessor Roy Compton has levied against Baenen is that Baenen allegedly “failed to transmit total assessed value in a timely manner to the Washington State Department of Revenue delaying the calculations of the State School levies for all 39 counties in the State of Washington.”

It is not the court’s duty to determine accuracy of the allegations, but it must determine that there is enough probable cause to continue with the recall.

Hawkins said that he will provide a response before the trial outlining what he said are fallacies with the charges. The majority of the charges are too vague to establish grounds for a recall, he said.

“The idea is this is a safety valve,” Hawkins said. “It wouldn’t work properly if the judges made the decision.”

Hawkins has been involved with three recalls. The first was an attempt to have him recalled when he was Island County prosecutor, which the courts dismissed. He was indirectly involved with a 2003 recall of two North Whidbey Parks and Recreation District commissioners, which also did not go to an election.

One example of how allegations may not stand up to court scrutiny can be found in the allegation that Baenen “failed to complete appraisals, except new construction, by May 31, 2004 as required by RCW 84.40.040.”

Hawkins said Washington code actually says assessments should be done by May 31 or later.

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