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There’s always something interesting going on at Honolulu Hale.
Civil Beat is reporting from the inside.
The City and County of Honolulu and Federal Transit Administration on Friday filed a motion asking the federal court to dismiss portions of a lawsuit brought against the rail project earlier this year.
The defendants say some of the claims in the lawsuit — dealing with protections of parks and other historic properties in Honolulu — should be dropped because they weren’t raised during the administrative process.
They also argue that the claims raised by some of the rail plaintiffs — Ben Cayetano, Walter Heen, Randy Roth and Small Business Hawaii — should be dismissed “because these plaintiffs failed to participate in the lengthy administrative process for the Project in any manner whatsoever.”
(Fellow plaintiff Cliff Slater was omitted from that argument, presumably because Slater did participate in the administrative process.)
Read the full memorandum in support of the motion here:
Roth, Heen, Cayetano and Slater shared the memo this morning, along with a press release analyzing the motion. Here’s what they said:
The Defendants in our rail lawsuit just filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings (Defendants’ Motion). The Motion may be most notable for what it fails to say and do. Several examples:
Our lawsuit alleges that the Defendants violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) by failing properly to consider alternatives to the project. The Defendants’ Motion does not dispute those claims. So no matter what happens with the Motion, our NEPA claims will go forward.
Our lawsuit alleges that the Defendants violated Section 4(f) of the Department of Transportation Act by improperly approving a project that will harm historic resources even though other reasonable and prudent alternatives and mitigation measures exist. The Defendants’ Motion does not dispute those claims. So no matter what happens with the Motion, our Section 4(f) claims regarding alternatives will go forward.
Our lawsuit alleges that the defendants violated the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) by failing to identify—and mitigate impacts to—historic resources before approving the project. The Defendants’ Motion does not dispute those claims. So no matter what happens with the Motion, our NHPA claims will go forward.
The Defendants’ Motion does make several claims, all of which lack merit.
The Defendants’ Motion claims that we waived certain of our arguments regarding the historic nature of the resources that would be damaged by the Project by failing to raise those concerns before the issuance of the Record of Decision. For example, the Motion claims that the Defendants were never aware of any concerns about the historic nature of the Aloha Tower or potential impacts to the Tower associated with the project. This is inaccurate: Numerous comments on the EIS expressed concerns about views of the Aloha Tower. This claim also shows just how out of touch the Defendants really are: virtually everyone knows that the Aloha Tower is historic, and if the FTA and the City and County of Honolulu need that fact to be reiterated they are the wrong people to be making decisions about major projects.
The Defendants’ Motion claims that some of the Plaintiffs did not properly raise their concerns before the issuance of the Record of Decision. This is both wrong and irrelevant. The Plaintiffs represent a broad coalition of community leaders who have consistently expressed their principled opposition to the Project and to the process by which the Defendants circumvented the law in order to get the Project approved. Moreover, the Defendants have already admitted that (1) Plaintiffs like Honolulutraffic.com and Hawaii’s Thousand Friends properly and timely raised concerns about the project and (2) by law, the lawsuit must therefore proceed.
In short, the Motion will not prevent our lawsuit from going forward and, in any event, is devoid of substantive merit. We consider it frivolous … a waste of the court’s time and the taxpayers’ money.
The Honolulu Ethics Commission is set to meet today at 11:30 a.m. As per usual, the only potentially juicy items will come up during executive session, and don’t have names attached. Check out the agenda here:
Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle has no events on his public schedule today.
September 9: Carlisle’s Public Sked; Remembrance Walk; Congestion Deception; ‘Outrage’ on Mayor’s Homeless Comments; Successful Sewage Trucking; Where’s Carlisle?
September 8: What We Learned; Honolulu’s Lousy Traffic; Undercover in Washington; Eagles Have Landed; Corp Counsel on Procurement; Horner Impressed; Stanley Chang Testifies; Aloha From Italy; Sale Or No Sale, Finmeccanica Is Obliged; Joint and Several Liability; Finmeccanica: Failure ‘Impossible’; The Questions; The Players; Ansaldo On The Big Screen; Where’s Carlisle?
September 7: Four Council District Plans; The Resignation Letter; Jamila Resigns From Planning Commission; Thoughts on Washington Trip; Not Following Rules; Where’s Carlisle?
September 6: Thursday Night In Waianae; Council Public Hearing Notice; Mayor On Homelessness; Jobs Claim Half True; Where’s Carlisle?
September 2: Peter, Toru, Carrie All Washington-Bound; Carlisle’s Public Sked; HART at First Hawaiian; Carlisle at Civil Beat; Ansaldo: We Complied With Licensing Requirement; Long Weekend; Civil Beat’s ‘Hatchet Job’; Where’s Carlisle?
September 1: PIG Picks Bunda; Carlisle’s Rail Pep Talk; Semi-Autonomous, But Connected; All Sewage Ideas Welcome; Defining ‘Undercover’; Today’s Meetings; Where’s Carlisle?