Welcome to the Islands of Oz, whose citizens have been held in thrall for more than 100 years by big businesses and the politicians they’ve bought.
First, our wages, benefits and opportunities were held down by the industrial plantations that required a cheap, uneducated, docile labor pool and grew crops for export, not for eating, while diverting precious water from streams and food crops.
Next, the military, visitor and real estate development industries encroached on public coastlines, built highways, and covered farmlands with urban sprawl–an ongoing process, most recently with the rezoning of Hoopili and Koa Ridge.
Honolulu is an Emerald City, due not to environmentally responsible planning, but to greenwashing. Just as developers’ and politicians’ promises of jobs, affordable housing and better schools have fallen short, so it will be with elevated heavy rail–our Oz Express–a money sink that will destroy the natural and historic beauty that draws visitors. The trains will run on electricity produced by burning imported fossil fuels, and will not reduce the number of vehicles on our island’s roads.
Worried about money, we are constantly assured by our politicians that Senator Daniel Inouye, like the great Wizard of Oz, will deliver federal funding for rail. On this week’s cover, HART CEO Dan Grabauskas sees money in his crystal ball. The pro-growth powers are pro-rail, a project, as Tom Coffman points out in his cover essay on page 6, that embodies this state’s war on the environment.
But unlike the inhabitants of Dorothy’s Oz, we have the power to break the spell. It’s called the vote.
Because this election threatens to institutionalize the war on our environment, The Weekly is featuring four green defenders in our cover illustration by Will Caron. They are Keiko Bonk, who will be Green Party candidate for the State House, as a Tin Woodsperson who saves trees; Tulsi Gabbard, endorsed by the Sierra Club for U.S. House, as Dorothy; Walter Ritte, running for OHA trustee, as the Scarecrow who scares off GMOs; and former Gov. Ben Cayetano, who staunchly opposes rail while neatly squaring off against some underhanded attackers, as a most decidedly un-cowardly Lion.
Exercise your right to choose. Please vote.