CB has begun its fact checking of the August 21st Star-Advertiser commentary (subscription, but you may be able to see it) by four plaintiffs in a lawsuit intended to block construction of the Honolulu rail project. Our own checking began that day and continued all last week.
CB is checking seven statements or allegations contained in the piece authored by Cliff Slater, Ben Cayetano, Walter Heen and Randall Roth – collectively called the Gang of Four here at Ye2Rail. Long-time anti-railer Slater presumably authored the entire piece; it has his look about it.
Civil Beat asked him to support the statements with documentation and has posted interim “In Progress” reports on six of the seven (more on the completed one below).
Slater’s response is empty of substance, relying as it does on off-hand remarks quoted second- or third-hand by others in the chain of custody: “The ‘aircraft carriers in the sky’ bit is from (a newspaper reporter) and (a local blogger)…” In other words, there’s nothing fact-based in that description, just grousing by rail opponents.
Slater then drops the bombshell:
“Crept in somehow”? Unseen in the second paragraph of the anti-railers' biggest salvo of the year!? And he wants Oahu residents to believe what he says about Honolulu rail? It's simply incredible. With a record based on hearsay reporting and inaccuracies, we doubt Mr. Slater could be hired at Civil Beat or even the Star-Advertiser. We trust CB will bestow a FALSE on this item.
Slater’s response said in part, “Given that the Final EIS for the BRT program forecast more transit riders than they are currently forecasting for the current rail project, that would seem to be a good judgment.”
Only in Cliff Slater’s world is that good judgment. For starters, BRT and Honolulu rail are entirely different projects with different objectives in different time frames and circumstances. Rail will commence full operations in 2019; BRT was conceived two decades earlier. Rail’s four goals boil down to providing fast, frequent, reliable and safe travel and doing it equitably. It’s impossible to apply those same attributes to the once-planned BRT system, with vehicles operating at ground level in the mix of other vehicles, stop-and-go traffic, stoplights and cross traffic.
Mr. Slater’s selective quoting tactic is further revealed by what he did not quote in the BRT document. The very next sentence after the one he lifted notes the rejection of his favorite alternative to rail – toll roads and reversible lanes: “In addition, highway alternatives to the Regional and In-Town BRT and LRT systems were identified and subsequently eliminated from further consideration as alternatives.” (Section 2.6, Primary Corridor Transportation Project)
Mr. Slater’s claim that BRT would accomplish the same goals as rail was and is bogus. We give him another FALSE .
Civil Beat has brief descriptions of its progress to date on all seven issues, including the only one accorded a grade so far. CB gave a TRUE in checking that a "DLNR Statement on Burials ‘Patently False.’"
CB had previously determined that Department of Land and Natural Resources Director William Aila misspoke when he said the Federal Transit Administration requires phasing of the rail project. It doesn’t, but it does allow phasing.
So what’s true is that Mr. Aila erred when he said phasing is required, and it’s also true that Honolulu rail’s phased approach is authorized but not mandated by the FTA. The project itself suffers no sting.
So one fact check is down, and we await Civil Beat’s judgment on the other six. We anticipate seeing from here on.
(This post has been added to our "aggregation site" under Cliff Slater.)