Council closes in on charter measure
The City Council almost went from A to Z on proposed mass transit amendments to the City Charter to be presented to voters.
4 REMAINING AMENDMENT PROPOSALS
Here are the four remaining proposals to offer City Charter amendments on mass transit to voters in November:
» Option G, based on the initial proposal by Councilman Todd Apo, to permit mass transit and create a semiautonomous Public Transit Authority.
» Option J, amended by Councilman Romy Cachola, to permit rail transit for the 20-mile segment from Kapolei to Ala Moana and create the Public Transit Authority with restricted powers.
» Option L, based on Council Chairwoman Barbara Marshall's proposal, to created the transit authority with City Council oversight.
» Resolution 08-166, offered by Councilman Charles Djou, to permit a mass transit system.
In a nearly two-hour discussion at a special committee meeting yesterday, councilmembers confused themselves at times with all the different versions circulating on a measure to create a ballot question on the city's planned $4 billion rail transit system.
"We have eliminated H and I," said Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi at one point. "So that leaves us with G, J and L."
"We won't have any more letters of the alphabet," Councilman Nestor Garcia joked at the end of the meeting.
The City Council has rejected 12 proposals and is a step away from adopting a measure to allow Oahu residents to vote on the transit system, though members remain bitterly divided over which of the four remaining versions to approve.
The Council is also paying close attention to a lawsuit filed by an anti-rail group, Stop Rail Now, against City Clerk Denise De Costa to force her to process a petition initiative attempting to stop the project. The hearing was to be held today in Circuit Court.
Councilman Charles Djou supported advancing the measure yesterday, though he said if the judge rules in favor of Stop Rail Now, he does not believe there will be the necessary six of nine votes to approve a proposed charter amendment.
"If Stop Rail Now's petition goes on the ballot, I don't think there's a need for any of this," said Djou, who preferred seeing the anti-rail group's initiative on the ballot after it collected almost 50,000 signatures.
Councilman Todd Apo disagreed, saying "all eyes are on the City Council" to create a proposed charter amendment.
The City Council and the anti-rail group are calling for two different approaches.
The City Council would amend the Charter -- asking voters to determine whether the city should create a mass transit system. Stop Rail Now wants to ask voters to create an ordinance, which could be amended in two years, to essentially stop the city's current plans for a transit system.
The several measures the City Council is considering are whether to create a semiautonomous Public Transit Authority to run the system and the language over the system's technology. Councilmembers are split over the amount of power to give the authority and the language used to describe the technology of the transit system.
Councilman Gary Okino, who supports Mayor Mufi Hannemann's selection of a steel rail system, said the Council should be specific in naming a technology.
"We need to put the specific technology on the ballot so we can settle this issue once and for all," Okino said.
As a compromise, Councilman Romy Cachola then introduced an amendment to a proposal that would allow voters to decide whether they want a steel rail system as the technology for the main segment of the system from Kapolei to Ala Moana.