Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Bottom Line of Gang of Four’s PR Campaign: ‘How Four Anti-Rail Activists Misled the Public’

“It’s perfectly understandable that the city would prefer not to draw additional attention to us and our message,” says today’s commentary in the Star-Advertiser by four highly visible rail opponents (subscription required).

Who are they kidding? The more attention drawn to their rhetoric, the better it is for rail! That’s why we’ve been calling attention to their antics for years here at Yes2Rail. We even aggregate our posts (under the Mr. Cliff Slater and Friends heading) to make it easy for visitors to read what these anti-railers have said and written.

Today’s commentary is another rehash of what’s already been publicized by the so-called Gang of Four that’s trying in federal court to kill the Honolulu rail project. Anti-mass transit activist Cliff Slater and attorneys Walter Heen, Benjamin Cayetano and Randall Roth launched their new-old campaign against rail two months ago tomorrow with a 1500-word manifesto headlined “How the city misled the public” on rail.

It has been picked apart ever since. When online Civil Beat fact-checked that column, its final tally of the seven issues found only two  TRUE   – and they were true for the thinnest of reasons. CB said two were flat-out  FALSE  and three were  HALF FALSE . The Gang’s penchant for misstating facts is why we’re happy to open the morning paper and find another of their commentaries.

What About the Jobs?
The Gang’s piece today is yet another smoke-and-mirrors production that attacks the city’s forecast on the number of jobs Honolulu rail will create. It’s almost not worth the time to address it.

Project leaders certainly have mentioned job creation when talking to supporters – especially before audiences of out-of-work construction workers – but rail is not a jobs project! It’s a mobility-restoring, traffic-avoiding, trip reliability-enhancing, travel equity-enabling and rational development-planning project.

Read its goals and you find nothing that suggests “let’s build rail because it will employ people.” Of course jobs will be created in building rail, and that’s great, but to attack the project by quibbling over how many will be created is another of the Gang’s sideshows.

In fact, it’s exactly the kind of sideshow we should be encouraging, because it displays their desperation to attack, attack, attack on the flimsiest of platforms.

Channeling Slater
Today’s commentary appears to be almost identical to the contents of a March 15, 2010 story in the Advertiser (subscription may be required) under the headline "Hawaii rail project may not create as many jobs as city predicts." Looks kinda familiar, doesn't it? Numerous stories back then channeled Mr. Slater’s thinking, and it was obvious that he enjoyed unusual access to the Advertiser's reporter assigned to cover rail.

The Advertiser folded three months later, and the reporter – who went so far as to misquote city officials in his seeming willingness to paint the rail project in the worst possible light – found other employment.

What’s clear from this retrospective look at the jobs issue is that the Gang of Four is recycling old material that failed to convince the public to oppose rail the first time around. Just the opposite has happened; three scientific opinion surveys found support for rail averaging 57.6 percent.

It’s also clear the recycling is all about creating buzz around the opponents’ lawsuit against the project. They apparently believe that if they kick up enough dust, they’ll fool some people – and that’s possible.

But “2 yards and a cloud of dust” doesn’t get the job done. In their desperation, the Gang now relies on attention-getting Hail Mary bombs in the media.

It hasn’t worked before, and it’s not working now. It's sack time!!

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