Council should put rail question to voters
A court has ordered the City Clerk's Office to accept an anti-rail group's petition for a vote on mass transit.
When arguments about mass transit are set aside, critics and advocates generally agree on one thing -- that Oahu voters should have a direct say through a ballot measure.
The problem is whether the measure will be placed before voters through a proposed ordinance that an anti-rail group is attempting to push forward or by a Charter amendment that the City Council has been discussing.
Because of the uncertainty about Stop Rail Now's initiative, the Council should move to put a transit amendment question to voters in November. That will assure they have a voice in the decision and that mass transit won't likely be subject to political waffling as in the past.
A state judge last week ordered the City Clerk's Office to accept and process for possible inclusion in the general election Stop Rail Now's petition for a ballot measure that asks voters to reject trains and rails as the mode for a transit system. The office had refused the petition because city lawyers said the group specifically asked for a special election and therefore the petition was too late to be included in the general election. There also is a disagreement about the number of valid signatures needed depending on the type of election.
The court didn't address the dispute about the numbers, which might or might not disqualify the group's ballot question. Because of that, Council members -- most of whom have said they favored a vote -- would be remiss if they did not go ahead with a Charter amendment.
What form the Charter proposal will take also is uncertain. The Council has been debating several options, but should not leave the ballot with none.
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