NORTH SHORE, HAWAII – Defend Oahu Coalition, the group behind efforts to protect rural Oahu and the green Keep the Country COUNTRY t-shirts and stickers, and the Hawaii Chapter of the Sierra Club called upon Gubernatorial Candidate Mufi Hannemann to retract an ad recently run in the North Shore News.
“Mr. Hannemann has been a consistent proponent for development along the North Shore,” said Robert D. Harris, Director of the Hawaii Chapter of the Sierra Club. “His use of the Keep the Country COUNTRY slogan is a poor attempt to greenwash his environmental record.”
Mr. Hannemann’s advertisement, which ran in the North Shore News, falsely claimed credit for “Keeping the County Country.”
“The Keep the Country COUNTRY movement was born in the 1970’s to limit the very type of unsustainable development that Mufi has supported in much of Ko’olauloa and the North Shore” said Tim Vandeveer, co-chair of Defend Oahu Coalition. “We received permission to use this slogan
in order to advocate for preserving the character and feel of rural Oahu. It is a rallying cry that Hawaii residents have come to associate with open space, low rise structures, limited population growth, mountains, fields, beaches, the ocean, and a rural life style.”
“That’s why we’re dismayed that a politician who has barely lifted a finger to preserve the Country would have the audacity to steal this well-recognized slogan,” continued Vandeveer. “The legacy of the real community leaders who started the movement cannot be co-opted in order to score political points.”
“Mr. Hannemann’s advertisement is misleading and incorrect,” said Harris. “Mr. Hannemann takes credit for protecting Waimea Valley, when in actuality he tried to push through a settlement that would have allowed a half dozen luxury homes. It would have also opened up the possibility of tourist camps in one of the last undeveloped valleys on Oahu. The protection of Waimea Valley happened in spite of Mr. Hannemann’s efforts to develop it.”
“Tens of thousands of Hawaii residents have urged our government to do something to stop the development of five new hotels at Turtle Bay,” said Kent Fonoimoana, Kahuku Resident. “At every turn, however, the Hannemann administration supported this outdated proposal. In fact, his administration refused and then fought citizen groups in court over whether an updated environmental impact statement was required.”
“In point of fact, the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled that the Hannemann administration was wrong and that indeed a supplemental environmental impact statement was required for the proposed Turtle Bay development,” said Harris. “If Hannemann had agreed that a fresh look was necessary, he could have saved both taxpayers and citizens groups a lot of time and money.”
“Supporting the addition of thousands of new cars onto an already overloaded highway and developing pristine coastlines is not ‘keeping the country country,'” said Kahuku resident Margaret Primacio.
“From supporting luxury homes in Laie to supporting development at Turtle Bay, Mr. Hannemann has been a proponent of developing one of the last rural areas on Oahu,” said Stuart Coleman, Surfrider Foundation’s Hawaii Coordinator. “We respectfully call upon him to withdraw and disavow the advertisement that usurps the Keep the Country COUNTRY slogan.”