City's rail rendering
City's rail rendering

Grassroot Movement to Stop the Honolulu Rail Project is Growing

Cliff Slater, who oversees HonoluluTraffic.com, the entity coordinating a federal lawsuit against the city and federal government over the city’s planned $5.3 billion 20-mile elevated steel wheel on steel rail project, disclosed in a recent interview with Hawaii Reporter that more than 1,400 people have donated to the legal fund set up to stop the project.

“This is truly a grassroots movement,” Slater said.

The alliance, organized and funded through HonoluluTraffic.com, teamed up with nationally renowned environmental attorney Nicolas Yost, partner in San Francisco based SNRDenton firm, last May to file the lawsuit.

The federal lawsuit to be filed in Hawaii challenges the Federal Transit Administration’s acceptance of the city’s rail Environmental Impact Statement. The plaintiffs maintain that all alternatives such as an expanded bus operation, a bus rapid transit system, managed lanes and a light rail, were not properly vetted before the heavy steel wheel on steel rail option was selected as the best option.

Yost is considered one of the top – if not the top – environmental lawyer in the country. He is the recipient of the American Bar Association’s 2010 Award for Distinguished Achievement in Environmental Law and Policy. Chambers USA ranked him as one of the leading American lawyers for business in the field of Native American Law. His experiences over decades includes acting as general counsel of the President’s Council on Environmental Quality and drafting the federal government’s National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) regulations. He’s tackled airport expansions, gas pipelines, Native American Indian burials and gaming sites, power plants, highways, bridges, and rail projects. He represented a host of Native American groups.

HonoluluTraffic.com, which teamed up with 6 other plaintiffs to attempt to stop construction of the project, originally set out to raise $250,000 to cover the lawsuit, but because of the city’s tactical delays which added another 6 months or more to the lawsuit, more money is needed, Slater said.

The city and Federal Transit Administration, defendants in the lawsuit, have their own team of lawyers. The city contracted with private attorneys to defend the administration in the lawsuit at a cost to city taxpayers of more than $1 million.

Slater, who continues to fundraise from private sources, notes the increasing numbers of city taxpayers who are opposed to the rail project are being forced to pay to defend it.

Cayetano Leading in Hawaii Reporter Mayoral poll

HawaiiReporter.com is running an unscientific poll to determine public support for Oahu’s next mayor.

Should it be Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle, former Acting Mayor Kirk Caldwell or former Governor Benjamin Cayetano?

A new poll on Hawaii Reporter asks the question: What Honolulu mayoral candidate will you vote for in the August 2012 Primary?

So far, here are the results:

  • Ben Cayetano (former governor) (70%, 335 Votes)
  • Kirk Caldwell (former city managing director) (10%, 46 Votes)
  • Peter Carlisle (current mayor) (8%, 37 Votes)
  • I have not decided (6%, 31 Votes)
  • None of the above (6%, 28 Votes)

Cast your vote today at the bottom of the home page of HawaiiReporter.com

Mayoral Candidate Gets Candid in Hawaii Reporter Television Exclusive

Former governor Ben Cayetano is featured in a new Hawaii Reporter Television show this week where he talks about his campaign for mayor, why Oahu’s infrastructure is failing and what it will cost taxpayers to fix it, and why he opposes the city’s Honolulu rail project.

Cayetano’s interview will also air on Olelo television on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. on channel 54.

Both Mayor Peter Carlisle and Mayoral Candidate Kirk Caldwell have been invited on the show as well, but have so far said their schedules have prevented them from making an appearance.

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