Sunday, December 5, 2010

Beyond Bias: What Rail Study Leader Didn’t Know

“Unbelievably unbelievable” was our call yesterday on the Governor’s $350,000 study of Honolulu rail’s financing plan due to a well-known anti-rail activist participation on the study team. Tom Rubin’s involvement tainted the findings in the view of Mayor Peter Carlisle and former Mayor Mufi Hannemann, and many others undoubtedly share that assessment.

But that’s just for starters. Civil Beat, the online subscription news service that was first among Honolulu media to report Rubin’s activist background on Thursday, carried an equally baffling piece of news yesterday:

The head of the consulting company that performed the study claims he didn’t know of Rubin’s anti-rail reputation before bringing him aboard.

Unless you’re a Civil Beat subscriber, you can’t read this story beyond the first two paragraphs, and we’re not repeating more details here out of respect for the service’s proprietary postings. But knowing just this much about the alleged cluelessness of Infrastructure Management Group Chairman Steve Steckler (at right) regarding Rubin’s background darkens the cloud shadowing the study.

Steckler evidently didn’t check out his team member by entering “Tom Rubin” and “rail” in Google’s search window. Try it yourself and count the hits. Here’s a quote from one of them:

“Ken Yunker, Executive Director, Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission, recently responded to inaccuracies contained in a study prepared by transit consultant Tom Rubin, California, and sponsored by the Reason Foundation. Ken Yunker has overseen over a decade of studies on KRM Commuter Rail and has an intimate knowledge of the KRM project. He successfully presented his corrections to Mr. Rubin's study in a point-counterpoint presentation with Mr. Rubin on January 13, 2009 at the Wisconsin Club in Milwaukee. Virtually every major component of Mr. Rubin's argument was shown to be false or inaccurately represented. Click here to download Mr. Yunker’s PowerPoint.”

Revelations like we’ve seen since Thursday may have Steckler wondering whether his firm’s $350,000 fee was worth the aggravation. Honolulu residents are wondering about more than that.

No comments: