Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Rail Critic’s Latest Reads Like More of the Same

Cliff Slater will tell you what lies ahead for the Honolulu rail project. Just ask him – or don’t ask him and he’ll write something somewhere to tell you anyway, and while he’s at it, he’ll try to start a debate that most of us feel was decided long ago.

Take his latest broadside against the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transit (HART). Mr. Slater never met an agency or authority or office associated with Honolulu rail that he liked, and HART’s no exception.

Oahu citizens overwhelmingly approved HART’s creation in an affirmative vote to amend the City Charter last November, passing the measure 63.6 percent to 29.1 percent. When blank votes are set aside, the "yes" vote was 68.6 percent, a landslide in anybody’s book and not much less than Senator Daniel K. Inouye’s usual reelection dominance (71.9 percent).

But that matters not to Mr. Slater, who’s still battling against HART and trying to convince us that it was formed for reasons other than why the voters approved it – to remove rail from the ever-fluid world of elective politics and have it administered by a semi-autonomous body. As the Honolulu Star-Advertiser editorialized on June 23:

“The whole reason for taking control of the dedicated transit fund away from a political body (the City Council) is to keep decisions in the hands of those not seeking campaign contributions, and to ensure that they’re based on professional reasoning, not politics.”

Mr. Slater doesn’t see it that way. In his world, HART was created “to shield elected officials from the harsh criticisms that will well up from voters when the cost overruns and ridership shortfalls occur and consequent increases in property taxes are needed. Then the mostly anonymous HART appointees will take the flak.”

He can see it any way he wants, but this is classic Slater – conjuring up a universe in which (1) HART exists for a reason of his own choosing, not the public’s, and (2) anticipating a dismal future for Honolulu rail that springs entirely from his own anti-rail tendencies that go back decades. Repeat something often enough, he apparently reasons, and maybe it’ll stick. (For more on Mr. Slater’s ongoing anti-rail campaign and his dubious reasoning, visit our July 26th “aggregation post.")

As usual, we’ve linked today's post to Mr. Slater’s latest views on HART, since we believe the more exposure he receives, the better Honolulu rail looks.

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