Environmentalists to Kirk Caldwell: Stop Using Our Slogan, ‘Keep the Country, Country’

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Community leaders, environmental organizations, and Oahu residents who support smart growth that embodies appropriate development, agricultural viability, food security, open space, Hawaii’s culture, sense of place, rural lifestyles, and protection of the environment, disapprove of mayoral candidate Kirk Caldwell’s exploitation of the “Keep the Country Country” signature for political gain.

“Mr. Caldwell has consistently supported, or been closely associated with, major developers along Ko’olauloa and the North Shore.  His use of the‘Keep the Country Country’ signature is a poor attempt to green-wash his dismal environmental record. This confuses the public,” said Creighton Ualani Mattoon, President of Keep the Country Country Inc.


Caldwell’s statement that the Honolulu Rapid Rail Transit will keep the country, country through containing urban sprawl is equally disingenuous. As Managing Director under Mayor Hannemann and Acting Mayor, a proposed subdivision (Envision Laie) with a regional commercial center, office buildings, industrial parks, church, and 1200 new homes on 900 acres of agricultural land in Malaekahana, Kahuku, was unilaterally inserted into the Ko’olauloa Sustainable Communities Plan (KSCP). This “end-around” play to unilaterally insert controversial projects into Sustainable Communities Plans happened island-wide, to the angst of many citizen participants.

The Hannemann/Caldwell Administration, along with Oaktree Capital LLC, contested the public cry to update the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Turtle Bay Resort expansion. “The Hawaii Supreme Court ruled the City administration was wrong in not requiring an update to a 25 year old EIS and that, indeed, a supplemental environmental impact statement was required for the proposed Turtle Bay development,” wrote Robert Harris, Executive Director, Sierra Club, Oahu Chapter, of the Supreme Court’s decision on April 8, 2010.

Additionally, the ongoing controversial proposal to sell the 3.5 acre Haleiwa Public Park to private investor Andy Anderson was conceived by the Hanneman/Caldwell administration.

Other contradictions exist with Caldwell. His campaign website touts “preserving rural lifestyle” while Lex Smith, his campaign chair, is assisting Continental Pacific, LLC, in evicting long-time residents from the rural Kahuku Plantation Camp.

“These local folks are selling kalua pork to fight these evictions. Evicting plantation folks and developing pristine coastlines is definitely not “preserving rural lifestyle,” retorted Jessica dos Santos, a member of the Defend Oahu Coalition, about the plantation camp’s plight.

Kirk Caldwell touts his string of endorsements by major development and construction groups. He proudly supports decimation of highly productive agricultural acreages to develop Ho’opili and Koa Ridge into dense, urban subdivisions despite fierce grassroots opposition.  Caldwell’s use of the “Keep the Country Country” signature is deceiving, as he is consistently pro-development, regardless of location or ensuing overall environmental impacts. Past performance is a good indication of future behavior.

“How many subdivisions can we duplicate on Oahu? We’re an island; protecting Oahu’s environment and preserving vanishing farmlands is good business!” said Choon James, a member of the Save Oahu Farmlands Alliance.

If Candidate Kirk Caldwell chooses not to disavow these proposed massive developments outside of the urban core, in the name of accuracy, transparency, and fairness to Oahu’s voters, he should immediately remove “Keeping the Country, Country” from his campaign website and political speeches.


Submitted by Keep the Country, Country