Saturday, October 8, 2011

Question #5: ‘Mr. Slater, You Know the Truth, so Why Did You Ply Your Team with Falsehoods?’

Next Thursday’s “INSIGHTS on Hawaii PBS” public TV show (KHET, 8-9 pm) could be something else if the questions for guests and rail opponents Cliff Slater and former Governor Ben Cayetano are probing enough, direct enough and unforgiving enough.

These two, along with UH law professor Randall Roth and retired judge Walter Heen, are leaders of a media-based campaign against the Honolulu rail project – something polls show most residents want built – so the questions should be all that and more.

The INSIGHTS audience can email their questions to and tweet them to @pbshawaii. We’ve already posted four questions that might find their way onto the show via its producer and host and have six more to suggest based on years of watching Mr. Slater’s anti-rail tactics. Let’s get started with #5.

The Set-Up
Cliff Slater’s decades-long effort to block mass transit on Oahu has failed to convince a majority of Oahu residents, so he has recruited three attorneys to bring some name recognition to his flagging campaign – Mr. Cayetano, former judge Heen and Professor Roth.

Mr. Slater is this group’s brain trust, and everything they say and write about Honolulu rail has his mark on it. That includes his outrageous allegation that the city hasn’t been truthful about rail’s goals and the fact that traffic congestion will continue to increase after rail is built. (See Question #1.)

With the exception of former Governor Cayetano, who once chaired the Senate Transportation Committee (see Question #4), Mr. Slater's team members have evidenced no obvious interest in transportation issues over the years. Mr. Heen is the silent partner in Mr. Slater’s new/old media-driven anti-rail campaign, but not so with Mr. Roth.

The professor has one-upped Mr. Slater’s tutoring and stops just short of accusing city officials of lying the way he carries on. “Shame on the city” he scolded in a radio interview on September 15. “Shame on the city for not making clear to the public…(that) traffic congestion will be worse in the future with rail than what it is today without rail.”

Mr. Roth keeps returning to this point, as he did in a YouTube video posted on September 30th in a discussion on Honolulu rail with opponents Panos Prevedouros and Malia Zimmerman. "They (city officials) gave people the impression that this was about traffic congestion, that we want to relieve the current level of traffic congestion, and yet in the fine print that they weren’t mentioning to the public, they’ve acknowledged that traffic in the future is gonna be worse with rail than what it is right now."

What makes Mr. Roth’s accusation so outrageous is that Mr. Slater knows none of it is true. He knows the city has not withheld the truth about future congestion. How do we know he knows? Because he himself has said so. Here’s his quote from a November 4, 2008 discussion on the radio about future traffic congestion:

“We in the room here all understand that traffic congestion is gonna get worse with rail in the future, OK….The public thinks that traffic…will be reduced from today’s levels once rail goes in. That’s what they believe, OK, and we don’t believe it. You and I don’t believe that….”
Despite the city’s totally transparent handling of this issue, and despite Mr. Slater’s first-hand knowledge that the city has withheld nothing about future traffic congestion under penalty of having the whole rail project rejected by the Federal Transit Administration, Mr. Slater continues to spin his web of falsehoods and has recruited Mr. Roth into repeating the same nonsense.

Question #5
“Mr. Slater, you know for a fact the city has not misled the public about future congestion levels. You agreed with city transit official Wayne Yoshioka on a November 2008 radio program that congestion will continue to grow on our streets and highways after rail is built. You’ve read the Alternatives Analysis and Environmental Impact Statement documents that openly addressed future congestion issues. You’ve heard Mr. Yoshioka and other rail officials speak openly at City Council meetings. Yet you have continued to ply this falsehood that the city has withheld information from the public, and beyond that, you’ve managed to fool people like law professor Randall Roth into saying the same thing. You’ve misled your fellow anti-rail campaigners, and they also now make false statements – some might call them lies – as they accuse city officials of lying. Is there no limit to the depths you’re prepared to go to kill rail?”

INSIGHTS host Dan Boylan is too much a gentlemen/host to go that far with his questions next week, but at a minimum, Mr. Boylan presumably will take some new knowledge about the Slater-led dubious anti-rail campaign if he’s reading our TEN QUESTIONS series.

And when his guests boldly march into their fictional Neverland during the show as they surely will, he’ll have the background to call them on it.

Today's post has been added to our "aggregation site" under the heading Mr. Cliff Slater (and Friends).

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