Are you kidding me???!

It’s not surprising that a packed Vancouver City Council agenda that includes a parks levy, fireworks restrictions and light rail funding would lead to, well, sparks.

They happened, right toward the end of a marathon meeting, courtesy of, yep — Councilor Jeanne Harris.

To be fair, Mayor Tim Leavitt’s insistence that every option besides a sales tax to pay for the Columbia River Crossing’s light rail operations and maintenance be mined has been a merry go round: We’re back where we started — a districtwide sales tax vote.

As the circle came fully around to rest at a sales tax tonight, each of the six members said why they think a sales tax is now the best choice. But Leavitt said that he still believes that no tax of any kind should be used. And he wasn’t going to support it.

“Are you kidding me?!?!” Harris shot back. “Are you kidding me Mr. Mayor?!?”

“No, I am not kidding you, Ms. Harris.” Leavitt said. “Roll call.”

They moved to a roll call vote. When it reached Harris, she sat for several awkward moments in dead silence. Those left in the audience collectively sucked in their breath. Gavel down was on everyone’s mind.

Finally, she said her vote was: “I don’t know.”

Councilor Jeanne Stewart was quick to point out that’s the same as a positive vote.

Harris said that for Leavitt to “convince us this is the right way to go about this,” and then turn and vote against it “overwhelmed” her.

“You are completely out of order,” Leavitt said, adding later, “If you don’t like the way I vote, that’s your prerogative.”

There were a few more tense moments, where no one knew how this would go. Finally, she said she would abstain.

Which Stewart again pointed out was really an affirmative vote.

Leavitt voted no, bringing it 6 to 1.

As of the 10:30 p.m. posting of this blog, the council was still going.

Update: As the meeting wrapped up somewhere around 11 p.m., Harris took the time to apologize for what happened. “We’re OK?” she asked Leavitt, who said they were indeed OK.

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