A lawsuit that sought to invalidate key Honolulu City Council votes cast for the rail project was dismissed in state Circuit Court this morning.
Circuit Judge Virginia Crandall granted the city’s motion to dismiss the case brought by Campbell Estate heiress Abigail Kawananakoa. The lawsuit demanded that key Council votes be declared void and unenforceable, and that funding tied to those approvals be stopped because a majority of Council members who voted on them should have had their votes nullified.
The city argued that the Honolulu City Charter is clear that the Honolulu Ethics Commission administers the city’s standards of conduct and that it was out of the jurisdiction of the courts to compel the commission to take certain actions.
The commission settled charges against former Council members Romy Cachola and Nestor Garcia, and dismissed cases against current Council members Ikaika Anderson and Ann Kobayashi, as well as former Council members Todd Apo and Donovan Dela Cruz.
The charges alleged that they failed to disclose receiving free golf and meals from lobbyists and others who benefited from the votes the Council had taken and approved.
At the time the lawsuit was filed in September, the cases against Anderson, Apo, Dela Cruz and Kobayashi were still pending before the commission.
Corporation Counsel Donna Leong, in a statement, said she was pleased by the ruling. “It provides assurances to the people of the city that the City Council’s legislative actions, many of which involve complex policy decisions, such as the rail project, will not be overturned by the judicial branch of government based on an alleged violation of the standards of conduct,” Leong said.
An attorney for Kawanakoa said she intends to appeal the case. “Ms. Kawananakoa has known from Day 1 that this issue isn’t going to be resolved until an appellate court rules on it,” attorney James Bickerton said.