Thursday, July 22, 2010

Cliff Slater and His Magical Words about Traffic: Rail Critic Continues his Obfuscation Campaign

We’re taking the unusual step of actually directing you to Cliff Slater’s site today for the insight it offers on how Mr. Slater continues to smokescreen his arguments against the Honolulu rail project.

Mr. Slater has convinced himself that the City’s representatives have deliberately confused the public about future congestion on Oahu’s streets and highways after rail is built.

He has taken to quoting from City Transportation Services Director Wayne Yoshioka’s response to him in the rail Final Environmental Impact Statement. He calls Mr. Yohioka’s comment “the magic words.” Here’s the quote:

“You are correct in pointing out that traffic congestion will be worse in the future with rail than what it is today without rail.”
He quotes officials’ comments going back two or three years and, based on his own perceptions about what the public thinks (he doesn’t explain why he thinks this), he accuses the City of not telling the truth.

Obfuscator in Chief

Just the opposite is true. Mr. Slater is the Chief Obfuscator in this debate, and we pretty much nailed that point last week in commenting on what he called his “whole argument” against rail as he himself described it in his Civil Beat interview.

Please do watch his interview in which he tells how he begins his pitch to audiences. He says traffic congestion will be greater with rail in the future than it is today, and stops then and there to ask if there are any questions.

Obviously, Mr. Slater is implying something with his rhetorical flourish -- that there’s no reason to build rail if congestion will be worse after rail is up and running. But he stops and doesn’t finish the thought:

Congestion will be worse because the number of people and vehicles on the island will be higher than today. And most importantly, he doesn’t tell his audiences what he had to admit at the City Council FEIS hearing last week – that traffic will be worse without rail than with it.

It couldn’t be any plainer: Cliff Slater deliberately misleads his audiences and, by extension, all Oahu residents with his discredited anti-rail rhetoric.

Let’s Go to the Videotape

When you read what Mr. Slater has posted at, please pay attention to the fourth and fifth paragraphs, which we’ll quote here:

“Since (the hearing) the Mayor has gone into overdrive to obfuscate the issue. Director Yoshioka, in Doug Carlson’s Yes2Rail blog responded sarcastically, ‘No kidding, in the future, traffic congestion will be greater than it is today. I don’t think that is any earth shattering news.’
“However, what Yoshioka will say in a blog is totally different from what he will say on a broadly seen medium like television.”

Perhaps Mr. Slater didn’t stick around to listen to Mr. Yoshioka’s testimony last week. What he claims Director Yoshioka said exclusively in this Yes2Rail blog was in fact what he told the City Council members at the hearing.

We transcribed both Mr. Slater’s and Mr. Yoshioka’s remarks from a tape of the “live” ‘Olelo coverage that we watched on our television set!

Mr. Slater’s Quote

Here’s something else from that hearing:

“We don’t disagree at all that rail will have an effect on reducing traffic congestion from what it might be if we did nothing at all.”
Those are Mr. Slater’s words. It’s something he undoubtedly never tells his audiences, which he misleads into thinking rail would have no positive effect on traffic congestion.

What we have here is an example of what can happen when someone says something so often that he comes to actually believe it’s so – simply because he thinks it’s so.

Mr. Slater has convinced himself that the City has confused the public on this issue of future congestion. That’s his right to do so, even though there’s no evidence that the City has misled anybody on the issue of traffic congestion and how to lessen it in the future.

The undeniable truth, which even Mr. Slater concedes, is that rail will reduce congestion levels from what they would grow to be if rail were not built.

We’ll continue to follow Cliff Slater and his anti-rail cohort and examine their statements. It can only do the rail project good.

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