Thursday, February 24, 2011

Clarity on Who Has Misled Public on Rail Project

The City Council yesterday confirmed Wayne Yoshioka’s appointment as Director of the Department of Transportation Services and did so over the objections of Cliff Slater, the long-time rail project opponent.

As reported in today’s Star-Advertiser, Mr. Slater was ruled out of order by Council Chair Nestor Garcia when he “approached the microphone and said, ‘I’ve been slandered here. I should be able to respond to slander.’”

Mr. Slater was upset by Mr. Yoshioka’s earlier suggestion that Mr. Slater has misrepresented the rail project over the years. We focused on some of Mr. Slater’s deliberate obfuscation of rail-related issues last summer.

What Slander?

On July 12, 2010, Civil Beat posted a video interview with Mr. Slater at the online news service’s website. Here’s how the interview begins:

Slater: "In talking to groups about rail, I tell them that there’s really two things you need to know about it. Number one, it’s gonna cost five and one-half billion dollars before cost overruns, and the second thing is that traffic congestion with rail in the future will be worse than it is today. And then I ask them if they have any questions, and that kinda sums up the whole argument.”

Just two days after that interview was posted, Mr. Slater testified at a City Council hearing and said:

“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….”

Mr. Slater is quoted on July 12 that traffic will be worse with rail than it is today, and two days later he's boxed in at the hearing and admits rail’s effect will be to improve congestion over what it would grow to without rail.

Mr. Slater never tells his audience that rail will be a traffic-free alternative to highway commuting. What he does say justifies the characterization of his performance as "misleading" during his two-decade campaign against Honolulu’s rail projects.

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