Von Reichbauer's Visa Got Miller Back From Maui For Redondo Vote
Good votes aren't hard to find, if you cough up the cash.
In the case of Redondo Beach Road South, Metropolitan King County Councilman Pete von Reichbauer didn't even hesitate.
Worried that he lacked votes on a plan to reopen the storm-damaged road near Federal Way, von Reichbauer paid Councilwoman Louise Miller's airfare back from a Hawaii vacation just so she could attend the County Council's meeting Monday and vote on the plan.
He charged the round-trip ticket, which cost about $500, to his Visa credit card and sent it to Maui via Federal Express. Miller left Maui Sunday night and arrived at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport about 8:25 a.m. Monday, where a council staffer was waiting to whisk her to the King County Courthouse.
Miller arrived at the meeting, voted and left shortly afterward to continue her vacation.
The Redondo road plan, part of a supplemental budget ordinance, passed the council, 11-2.
When asked if the story was true, von Reichbauer said, "Absolutely."
"It was a small price for me to pay to prove we were listening to the majority of constituents whom I support on this issue," he said.
Redondo Beach Road South has been a King County nightmare for nearly four years. Skirting the edge of a saltwater shoreline, the road once carried 7,000 cars a day. It has been virtually closed since 1990 when heavy winter storms washed out part of the road.
Since then, the road's fate has turned the Redondo community into a battleground, pitting commuters who want the road to be rebuilt against some residents who want to close it off permanently and turn it into a park.
Last year, buoyed by activists who saw an opportunity to reclaim shoreline, the council set aside $100,000 to study the option of building a park.
Then, in an almost unnoticed move, von Reichbauer added language to the budget supplement that canceled the park project and directed the county's public-works department to reopen the road.
"I guess I could be criticized for what I did," said von Reichbauer, who represents the Federal Way area. "But that issue has been unresolved for so long. I felt it was prudent that we act on it quickly and decisively."
Von Reichbauer said he discussed the Redondo road issue with Miller, who lives in Woodinville, before her vacation and asked if she would be willing to return for one day if he bought her a ticket.
Von Reichbauer said he plans to buy Miller's husband a "very nice cigar" out of gratitude, and to treat both of them to an expensive dinner when they return from Hawaii.
"I was touched by both of them for letting me interrupt their long-planned vacation," he said.
"I think I'll take them to Salty's," he added, referring to a popular restaurant at the end of Redondo Beach Road South.
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