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."