Lawsuit Against Honolulu Rail Generates ‘Bizarre’ Response from Federal Government

Rail opponents who filed a lawsuit challenging the city plans to build a $5.3 billion steel on steel rail system from Kapolei to Honolulu, received a limited response from the federal government late Friday.

Plaintiffs, who filed the lawsuit three months ago, include HonoluluTraffic.com, former Gov. Ben Cayetano, Retired Judge Walter Heen, University of Hawaii Law Professor Randall Roth, Hawaii’s Thousand Friends, Sen. Sam Slom’s Small Business Hawaii Entrepreneurial Education Foundation and Dr. Michael Uechi. The League of Women Voters and the Life of the Land are expected to join the plaintiffs.

The rail complaint challenges the federal government’s approval of the Environmental Impact Statement for the heavy rail system, because the city did not explore more environmentally friendly, and less expensive options that would preserve Honolulu’s important cultural sites, plaintiffs said.

Roth said the Federal Government Answer to the Rail Honolulu Lawsuit claiming to lack knowledge leaves the agency vulnerable.

“Federal Defendants in the rail litigation submitted their Answer late yesterday, the last day it was due.  It is filled with pro forma denials, even to straightforward, easily-verifiable factual matters.  Their reliance on ‘we don’t know’ denials is telling.  For example, take a look at the response to the allegations in paragraph 112 of our Complaint.  Essentially, they are saying that they won’t answer in detail because they lack the knowledge to do so.  But the subject of paragraph 112 is the existence of reasonable and prudent alternatives – the very thing the Defendants were legally required to know.  In short, (1) their Answer does not set out any previously-unidentified facts that could strengthen their position and (2) the refusal to address in detail our allegations leaves the Defendants vulnerable to our legal arguments about their failure to undertake required analyses,” Roth said.”We’ve been expecting to win this case, but the weakness of this Answer reinforces our belief. In fact, we are now thinking about asking the judge to tell the defendants to hold off on all work on the rail system until the case has been finally resolved.”

Rail opponent Cliff Slater calls the response “bizarre.”

Nation’s Credit Downgrade Will Impact Hawaii

Lowell Kalapa, president of the Tax Foundation of Hawaii, said Standard and Poor’s recent credit downgrade for the nation from AAA to AA + will hurt Hawaii’s taxpayers.

In an editorial today in Hawaii Reporter, Kalapa said as interests rates rise, so will credit card balances and mortgage rates. That also will increase the cost of Hawaii’s already expensive housing market.

A weak economy in the mainland could impact tourism spending here, Kalapa said.

The Solution: Kalapa said politicians in Washington DC and Hawaii need to cut spending.

Parents, Teachers to Rally to Prevent Curriculum Change

On Tuesday, August 16, parents and teachers will rally at the Board of Education meeting.  They want to stop the board from changing graduation requirements.

The Board may eliminate one social studies credit from its mandated curriculum.

Currently students are required to take two social studies classes before graduating; the board is considering reducing that to one.

The classes now include Economics, Psychology, Hawaiian Studies, and Political Science.

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