Faith, Union Groups Seek Pro-Rail Spot in Lawsuit

Michael Levine/Civil Beat

We might need another table and a few more chairs.

The federal lawsuit seeking to stop the Honolulu rail project in its tracks — already packed with eight named plaintiffs and a handful of government defendants — could get even bigger if three new would-be intervenors are granted a spot in front of the judge.

The new players filing requests Tuesday were Faith Action for Community Equity (FACE), a faith-based organization, Pacific Resource Partnership (PRP), a construction union advocacy group, and Kapolei resident Melvin Uesato. They're jumping in on the side of the city and federal governments in support of the rail project, and hitting back against opponents who have been on the attack in recent months.

If the judge allows the intervention, FACE state director Drew Astolfi told Civil Beat the organizations will become "sort of co-defendants or junior partners" in the case. FACE is pushing for rail because the project will reduce commute times and get the city closer to tackling the affordable housing crisis.

"We've got a problem with the way the lawsuit is playing out," Astolfi said, adding that opponents have had the "whip hand" in the lawsuit so far. "It just seemed like if we didn't do it, we'd be really missing a chance to see our interests move forward."

PRP's main issues are job creation and economic opportunities, though quality of life is also near the top of the list. Executive Director John White said his group hopes to highlight the "human element" of the project in court.

"Our opponents believe that this was a venue to raise concerns for rail, so I think it's important for us to engage those who don't believe rail is right for Honolulu's future," White said.

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