Search This Blog

Monday, August 15, 2011

King County Council FINALLY Saves Metro

In a long day of back and forth negotiations, in which Kathy Lambert and Jane Hague were on-again/off-again about the $20 Congestion Reduction Fee, the King County Council voted 7-2 in FAVOR of the proposal.

ph credit - Janet Way
King County Council
Clmbr Joe McDermott, Bob Ferguson, Jane Hague, Council Pres Larry Gosset,
Larry Phillips, Julie Paterson, Kathy Lambert, and Pete VonReichbauer
We were there in KC Council Chambers at the King County Courthouse promptly starting at 1:30 the council started out with business as usual. They welcomed the Korean Consul General to celebrate Korean Independence Day.
Korean Consul General
welcomed to celebrate 
Korean Independence Day

But then things got interesting and then well....rather tedious. Councilmember Reagan Dunn asked for a 10 minute recess. That ended up taking several hours.

People in the gallery were very patient. There were dozens of transit supporters, staff and others who filled the room. But many had to leave finally and resume their lives. As did we.
Patient members of the public waited for hours
to find out what would happen to Metro Service
After much back and forth (literally, with councilmembers dashing between each others camps) and many ups and downs apparently, which had the deal off and then on again by the end, the Council came to a super majority decision to pass the plan and prevent it from being placed on the ballot.

First District Councilmember Bob Ferguson was quoted as saying he's never seen anything like this day at the Council since he's been there.

While the $20 fee will be a hardship for some, the passage of this deal will be a great relief to those who depend upon Metro for vital transportation services.

Publicola stayed with the process to the end. Here is their account of what transpired.

In 7-2 Bipartisan Vote, County Council Passes Metro Fee


7:34: It’s over. Lambert and Hague, after opposing, then supporting, then (reportedly) opposing, then finally supporting the two-year $20 Metro fee, voted in favor of saving Metro service, giving the fee a seven-vote supermajority. Metro, for two years at least, is saved.
7:20: County Council Democrat Bob Ferguson says the barrage of public testimony influenced the council’s vote in favor of the two-year, $20 Metro fee today. “I think it’s fair to say that this was as overwhelming public support as I’ve ever seen on county council.”
7:12: County Council Republican Reagan Dunn, who opposes the two-year, $20 fee to preserve Metro service (“I don’t like or support the process of forcing a tax on families on fixed incomes, on seniors on fixed incomes, especially in a down economy”), just claimed that “folks across the county have said they want to vote on car tabs.” Nope.
7:04: Kathy Lambert says, “Where was I” when Metro was threatened? “I stood up to make the hard decision.”
6:59: Despite all the back-room deliberations—during which both she and her fellow Republican colleague Jane Hague reportedly said they would vote with their two other Republican council members, Pete Von Reichbauer and Reagan Dunn, against the $20 Metro fee–King County Council member Kathy Lambert  is voting with her Republican colleague Jane Hague in favor of the fee. That’s seven votes in favor. Lambert: “It’d be much easier for me to take a ‘no’ vote.” Hague: “This is all about statesmanship. It’s about working across the aisle for meaningful results.”
6:57: Hague—reportedly a “hard no” 20 minutes ago—is now voting for the Metro fee. That’s a six-member King County Council majority in favor of the fee.
6:55: Republican Jane Hague hasn’t spoken yet to indicate whether she’s back on board with the two-year, $20 fee she first opposed, then supported, then reportedly opposed again, and now may again stupport. Larry Phillips has been talking for ten minutes, though.
6:45 pm: If Jane Hague comes back on board, the Metro deal will have the needed six votes—even if her fellow Republican Kathy Lambert doesn’t vote for the two-year, $20 fee.
6:43: Democrat Julia Patterson is complimenting (wavering) Republican Jane Hague for her “moral,” “humane,” “brilliant,” and “intelligent” support for bus vouchers in exchange for vehicle license fee. Upshot: The deal may not be dead yet.
6:40: “The most bizarre day at the county council in at least a decade,” a source with a long history of working with the council says.
6:37: And they’re back. Julia Patterson is explaining the ordinance, which would impose a two-year, $20 fee on drivers in King County to preserve Metro service. Without it, the county would lose 9 million rides per year; put another way, that’s 600,000 hours or 17 percent of Metro service.
Update, at 6:24 pm: County council is back in council chambers.
Sources tell us the deal announced last week—in which King County Council Republicans Jane Hague and Kathy Lambert agreed to vote for a two-year, $20 fee to preserve Metro transit—is dead. Now the debate is reportedly over whether to put the fee on the ballot or simply to let it die. Additionally, the council is debating whether to force the fee to a vote (and thus force Lambert and Hague to defend their double flip-flop) or whether to drop it.
“It looks like this deal is dead, with Hague and Lambert flipping,” one source says. “I’ve never seen anything like this.”
Lambert and Hague reportedly agreed to change their votes over the weekend, after intense pressure to flip from Republicans on the county council and from GOP constituents.
Council members remain sequestered behind closed doors at the county courthouse, some four hours after agreeing to hold a “ten-minute recess.”

No comments:

Post a Comment