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Community Comment

Big mess in County Assessor’s Office…

Good afternoon, Netizens…


(Portions of this story by KREM-TV and Randy Shaw)


It originally struck me as a bit odd that the Spokesman had not picked up the news story by KREM-2’s Randy Shaw involving Spokane County Assessor Ralph Baker, which is extensively documented here: http://www.krem.com/home/Part-2-Whistle-blower-claims-fraud-inside-Spokane-CountyAssessors-Office-86296217.html


As I later found out, generally speaking news agencies seldom “grab” investigative news stories which are broken by other news sources. It is a matter of protocol, an unspoken agreement if you will, and since it has been decades since I last worked as a journalist in a Big City environment, this came as no surprise to me. Things change over time.


This story begins with a whistle-blower complaint of possible criminal fraud filed by Debi Mason, a former Spokane County Assessor who once worked for Ralph Baker. When KREM’s Randy Shaw investigated her whistle-blower complaint he discovered there were at least 20 million dollars worth of properties missing from the County tax rolls. Some of the property owners admitted to Randy Shaw they knew they owed Spokane County back taxes, but despite email and phone call contacts were unable to get anyone from the Spokane County Assessors’ office to come out and settle the evaluations.


At the end of Randy Shaw’s written report regarding the “Mess in the Assessors Office” there is an ominous note. The Assessor’s Office has pulled all of the records on any properties or homes Randy Shaw owns in Spokane County. Despite repeatedly calling the Assessor’s Office and specifically Assessor Baker to find out why they’ve pulled his personal property records, so far no one has called him nor myself back with why they did that.


I spoke with a handful of property appraisers this afternoon who routinely deal with assessments at the Assessor’s Office and they all agree, such behavior is both highly questionable, if not illegal. I also spoke with Randy Shaw by phone and verified the information presented herein.


On a brighter note, County Assessor Ralph Baker is up for re-election this year. 


I cannot help but wonder if Ralph Baker will clean up the mess in the County Assessor’s Office before the ballots hit the box?


Dave


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