Mr. Slater and fellow authors Ben Cayetano, Walter Heen and Randall Roth – we’re calling them the Gang of Four – are not accustomed to strenuous criticism, especially from a source like Civil Beat and its staff of independent journalists who have been fact-checking the anti-railers’ public statements.
Judged not true were assertions that “virtually all environmental groups” oppose Honolulu rail and that “some of the stations would be 10 stories high” and resemble “aircraft carriers in the sky.”
Civil Beat’s fact checks don’t sit well with Mr. Slater. His two-part 1,500-word "hatchet job" response amounts to back peddling, justifying, explaining and defending what he and his co-authors wrote.
Mr. Slater has opposed rail and supported high-occupancy toll roads over the past two decades, but neither he nor his co-authors have professional transportation expertise, and their newspaper essay offered no alternatives to rail. Nevertheless, they’ve used the piece over the past two weeks as the springboard for their new public and media relations campaign.
Civil Beat’s website was recently judged Hawaii’s Best Overall News Site. As you might expect, its reporters examined the Gang’s statements more vigorously than Pacific Business News’s editors. PBN’s editorial that flip-flopped the weekly’s position on rail seemed more influenced by the Gang’s reputations than the depth and quality of their anti-rail arguments.
Online sites friendly to Mr. Slater and his dogged anti-rail campaign publish anything he writes. HawaiiReporter.com posted yet another of his obfuscating pieces this week. As we wrote yesterday, it was “classic Slater” by confusing the issues and reaching false conclusions, hoping some of them will stick. It only strengthened the Mayor’s argument that the anti-rail campaign misleads the public – deliberately as well as through inattention to detail.
Desperate people with reputations on the line are liable to say almost anything to reverse a trend that’s running against them. Anticipate more Gang of Four aggression against a project that most Oahu residents know we need and want built.