(the meeting is now adjourned – as-it-happened updates below)
(photo added 8:42 – all eyes on the door to one of the areas where council members strategized)
ORIGINAL 3:34 PM REPORT: We’re at the King County Council‘s chambers on the 10th floor of the County Courthouse downtown, where county councilmembers are about to move on to the agenda item that will result in their vote on a new councilmember to represent West Seattle and other areas of the 8th District, now that Dow Constantine has become County Executive. You can watch live on Cable Channel 22 or online at the county website; councilmembers have just called a recess until 3:50, at which time they will take up this agenda item. We will publish word of the decision as soon as it’s made, as well as any in-progress toplines, depending on what happens before the vote is taken. 3:53 PM UPDATE: It’s just been announced the recess will continue till 4:30 – they’re waiting for an absent councilmember to arrive. 4:35 PM: And the recess is extended to 4:45. A sizable 34th District Democrats contingent is here to show support for State Sen. Joe McDermott, who the group supports for the job – they’re handing one of these buttons to everyone who arrives to join the show of support:
5:25 PM UPDATE: They’re now out of recess. Joe McDermott‘s name has been proposed as the appointment, for starters. Councilmember Julia Patterson is saying, “This was a difficult choice.” She says that one of the things that made the difference for her is the fact that Sen. McDermott has lived in the 8th District for his whole life, and “the people of the district have leaned on (him) to represent him” over the past 9 years (in his legislative roles). She describes McDermott as a skilled consensus-builder. Now Councilmember Larry Phillips says he concurs with Patterson regarding Sen. McDermott, and appreciates everyone who came forward “to help us sort through this.” Councilmember Larry Gossett expresses appreciation for McDermott’s advocacy for racial and sexual minorities. Councilmember Pete von Reichbauer is now speaking and says he’s been very impressed by Sen. McDermott and even more impressed by all the people who have expressed support for him. But he says he will vote for the caretaker position (which would mean either Drago or Nelson), not “against” McDermott. And the vote to appoint McDermott failed – 4-4 tie (no one spoke against his appointment before the vote).
(that’s video of the first vote, the first deadlock re: appointing McDermott)
There is now a recess (with several councilmembers having gone behind closed doors). In addition to Rep. Nelson and Sen. McDermott, Councilmember Drago is now here.
5:56 PM: It’s just been announced the recess will continue till 6:15. Several other journalists are here; from the politics-watching-specialty world, Erica C. Barnett from PubliCola says the 4 Republican-leaning councilmembers (though the positions are now technically nonpartisan) want to give the job to Drago as a one-year caretaker. We talked with Drago for a few minutes after the recess started; she had just completed her last meeting on the Seattle City Council, after 16 years (she ran for mayor instead of running for re-election). The gallery’s abuzz with how a tie will be broken if the councilmembers stay deadlocked.
6:21 PM: They just announced the recess will continue till 6:45. The lone TV photographer here is packing up.
6:30 PM: Now they are out of recess, and they are nominating Jan Drago. Reagan Dunn says he is leaning toward the caretaker role and believes Drago has the experience. Councilmember Larry Phillips restates his support for Sen. McDermott. The Drago vote deadlocked again. No one proposed an amendment so they’re going to recess again. “Has anyone talked to Greg Nickels?” someone quips, stirring laughter from the otherwise somewhat nerve-wracked audience.
6:54 PM: Still in recess – here’s our video of that second vote, in which the councilmembers deadlocked on the Drago nomination:
7:13 PM: They are out of recess. Dunn is now nominating Dr. Arun Jhaveri , former Burien mayor, “one of the applicants who went through the committee process.” There is a call for another recess, to confer. Someone in the back row suggests frequent candidate Goodspaceguy.
7:22 PM UPDATE: They’re out of recess to discuss this, the third nomination motion. Councilmember von Reichbauer is asking if Rep. Zack Hudgins had ever said definitively whether he would run for the permanent job. “That opens a whole new view of the candidates,” he said. They’re taking a quick break to call him to clarify whether he’s interested in the caretaker role or not. Meantime, here’s more context on Dr. Jhaveri. Much buzz in the gallery about whether pizza should have been ordered for delivery – some of the 34th District Democrats members here to support Sen. McDermott have been here since the council meeting began at 1:30 pm (McDermott was here at 9:30 when the council Committee of the Whole first took up the motion).
7:41 PM: Councilmember Dunn came out to the Chambers and muttered loudly, “They’re going down the list.” (Here, by the way, is the original list of 11 nominees, culled to 4 by a panel of community members – Rep. Nelson, Sen. McDermott, Rep. Hudgins, Councilmember Drago, all of whom were interviewed by the council last Monday.
8:03 PM: Still in recess … 8:11 PM: Most of the council came out of the door to the right of their half-moon dais, and trooped over to go into the door at the left. … 8:26 PM: After 7 hours, Rep. Nelson just left (has to catch a ferry home). No hint of how much longer the recess will last. Meantime, Councilmember Drago has just gone into the closed-door gathering. 9:02 PM: Members are trooping back and forth between the left and right doors. Dunn just strode from left to right smiling, wagging his finger and proclaiming “I got an idea!” … 9:35 PM: Hour 7 now. Still in recess. Conserving remaining battery power so check @westseattleblog for updates till they reconvene (the iPhone’s not dead yet).
9:39 PM: Had to turn the computer right back on – now they’re reconvening. Dunn withdraws amendment for Hudgins, saying that while he was willing to be a caretaker, it might affect his legislative status. Now Pete von Reichbauer is proposing consideration (hasn’t moved this yet, just suggesting) of a cooling-off period while the council is in recess. He explains the impasse, saying there are technicalities that would keep them from bringing up McDermott or Drago again. Councilmember Larry Phillips says, “We are deadlocked at this point … we will go on to deliberate another day … I hope everybody has a good holiday.” Reagan Dunn suggested that they ask the review committee for two more names to suggest. The council does not reconvene till January 4. Bob Ferguson says he’s “optimistic” this will be resolved then. “Sometimes in government and politics there are deadlocks, and for tonight there’s a deadlock, ultimately we will reach a consensus on a deadlock.”
9:53 PM: 34th District Democrats chair Tim Nuse says, “It’s very disappointing. The district needs representation. We’ve got the right choice with Sen. McDermott … (for now) they’ve clearly put politics ahead of the interests of the public. But we stayed here all night, we’ll be working for the next two weeks, and when they reconvene, this room will be packed.”