Judge gives legal green light for Stop Rail Now's petition

Dennis Callan
Dennis Callan
Charles Djou
Charles Djou
Dan Douglass
Dan Douglass

By Mari-Ela David - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - Voters may be able to say 'yay' or 'nay' to rail on Oahu, afterall. A Judge has sided with the anti-rail group, Stop Rail Now, in its fight to put the issue on the November ballot.

Thursday morning in Circuit Court, Judge Karl Sakamoto paved the way for letting voters decide on the project in the general elections.

After the ruling came down, Stop Rail Now treked back to the City Clerk's office to re-submit its petition, this time with the legal ok to file.

"The court ruling today was just a clear message to the city government to stand back, put this on the ballot and let the public decide," said Stop Rail Now Co-Chair, Dennis Callan.

Last week, City Clerk Denise De Costa rejected the petition, saying the group missed the deadline to put it on the November ballot. Now that a court order has reversed that decision, a proposed city charter amendment that would also let voters decide on rail, will likely die.

"If Stop Rail Now's petition moves forward, there's no reason for the City Council to move forward with its question on the ballot on rail," said Honolulu City Councilmember Charles Djou, the author of the resolution.

But members of Go Rail Go hope that doesn't happen, preferring the proposed city charter amendment which asks, "Shall...the city... include establishment of a steel wheel on steel rail transit system?"

Stop Rail Now's proposed ordinance reads "Honolulu mass transit should not include trains or rail."

"Things would be cleared if you could say yes to the question, yes on rail, but that's not the way it is, so yes means no. That confuses voters," said Ken Stanley, a member of Go Rail Go.

There's still a chance the petition won't make it in the general election. De Costa must validate the signatures, and make sure there are enough. Stop Rail Now is optimistic.

"We have the city's database of registered voters in our county," said Dan Douglass with Stop Rail Now.

The anti-rail group has its own software to verify the names on the petition.

De Costa has 20 days to validate the signatures. There's still a dispute over how many signatures are needed: 30,000 or 45,000.

Stop Rail Now submitted more than 49,000 signatures.