Saturday, December 19, 2009

Transit Tax Revenues Rise to Anticipated Level; Counting the Days of Tiser’s Non-Report on Poll

To the consternation of the diminishing anti-rail faction on Oahu, transit tax revenues increased in November and were just south of the monthly level the City has fit into its projections for the 16-year tax.

While still down slightly from one year earlier, the fact that revenues increased is an encouraging sign for the rail project, and the revenue rise doesn’t stand alone as good news for rail.

The unemployment rate dipped last month, the economy is forecast to improve in 2010 and construction bids for the project have come in below expectations.

39+ Days and Counting

Our incredulity grows by the day over the Honolulu Advertiser’s refusal to report the results of a public opinion poll that show strong community support for rail.

In a story hinting at (non-existent) impropriety over the City’s contract with Honolulu polling firm QMark, reporter Sean Hao wrote that the City responded to a Freedom of Information Act request about the poll’s contract in a letter dated November 18. Let’s say the City took a week to respond to the request; we don’t know, but let’s pick 7 days.

And let’s assume that the Advertiser didn’t know about the poll until around the date it made the request; using our scenario, that would make November 10 the date it first knew of the poll. The paper undoubtedly knew about the September survey much earlier than that, but we’re being charitable.

So assuming a “first awareness date” of November 10, the Honolulu Advertiser has allowed 39 calendar days to pass without reporting on the poll’s pro-rail results in its news columns. The only results the paper has published were condensed in a December 17 letter to the editor by Managing Director Kirk Caldwell.

What is going on?

Has the paper lost all objectivity in its news hole about this project? Does it doubt the integrity of polling company QMark? How could it not report the results of a scientific opinion survey it has known about since at least November 10 – and probably for much longer?

We don’t know what’s going on, but we’re counting the days until the Honolulu Advertiser succumbs to widely accepted standards of objective journalism and prints the survey's results.

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