Anti-Rail Group Labels Itself ‘Environmental’ In Cayetano Endorsement

A new ad-hoc group calling itself the Hawaii Environmental Coalition on Wednesday announced its endorsement of Ben Cayetano for mayor. From the press release:

Ben Cayetano has clearly understood that the Honolulu Rail project and the subdividing of Oahu’s best farmland would destroy a large part of O’ahu as we know it. He stepped forward as plaintiff in the Federal NEPA/FTA lawsuit against the Rail. He testified against the urban designation of the Ewa farmlands. He spoke up against the visual, agricultural, fiscal and cultural harm of the Rail. Not finding someone else to run for mayor, he left a comfortable retirement to take up the public’s fight of 2012.

Here’s the press release and here’s the list of signatories.

The new group includes at least one well-known environmental advocate (Donna Wong of Hawaii’s Thousand Friends), one who’s made a name fighting sprawl (Kioni Dudley of Hoopili fame), and one who’s been fighting the Kyo-ya hotel redevelopment in Waikiki (lawyer Linda Paul).

It also includes many folks who are more familiar to me because of their fervent opposition to rail. Among the names I recognized: Cliff Slater, Randy Roth, Sam Slom, Scott Foster, Tom Coffman, Dennis Callan, Michael Uechi, John Brizdle. The press contact for the group is Pearl Chang Johnson, chair of the League of Women Voters' planning and transportation committee and one of the main vocal opponents of rail.

The group could have been called “Rail Opponents Coalition” or “Cayetano Supporters Coalition.” But those doesn’t have the same ring as “Hawaii Environmental Coalition” when it comes to an endorsement.

The announcement comes on the heels of the state’s biggest environmental group, the Sierra Club, deciding to remain on the sidelines until a mayoral candidate supports rail and fights urban sprawl. Remind anybody else of the venture capital confusion from the 2010 governor’s race?

Michael Levine

Photo courtesy Ben Cayetano

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