Monday, October 17, 2011

Rail Jobs ‘Plentiful’ if Project Is Not Delayed, but Four Rail Opponents Are Fighting To Kill Project

Mayor Peter Carlisle will meet Tuesday with the Rotary Club of Honolulu, whose members probably have as much to gain as anyone else from an improved Hawaii economy. It’s the oldest club in the state – founded in 1915, club #170 out of more than 34,000 worldwide today – and therefore the club for senior business executives to join.

One wonders how they’re reacting to today’s page-one story in the Star-Advertiser beneath the headline “Rail jobs plentiful regardless of who’s counting.” The story (accessible only by subscription) says that although the number of jobs created by building the Honolulu project varies according to the computer model, the project’s positive impact on the economy can’t be understated.

“There is no ‘shovel-ready’ project, public or private, that will have the kind of immediate impact on the jobs market and the economy as a whole, as the rail project,” the story concludes.

So maybe “politeness” combined with Rotary’s Four-Way Test explained the reception the anti-rail “Gang of Four” received at last week’s meeting. Nobody challenged Cliff Slater’s observation that traffic congestion in the future with rail will be worse than it is today – and then he sat down, as if that fact is all one needs to oppose the project.

Nobody challenged Randall Roth when he insinuated something illegal is happening in City Hall because the wife of city transportation director Wayne Yoshioka works at PB, the city’s prime rail contractor.

Nobody questioned Walter Heen’s characterization of the City Council’s handling of the rail project as the “silence of the lambs,” suggesting he somehow missed the years of contentious Council debate over rail.

And nobody asked Benjamin Cayetano what he has in mind instead of rail to help commuters who battle highway congestion twice a day and waste hours a week on our roads.

Is It the Truth?
Honolulu club Rotarians certainly are sharp enough to know a shallow performance when they see one, and last week’s presentation by the plaintiffs on a lawsuit intended to kill rail qualified.

Calling them on it, though, might have been unseemly in light of the Four-Way Test of the things Rotarians “think, say or do.” The Test emphasizes fairness, good will and mutual respect for all concerned, including speakers.

Most of all, the Test values the Truth, and it’s by emphasizing the Truth of Honolulu rail that Mayor Carlisle can have the greatest impact with the Honolulu club tomorrow.

He can point out that Mr. Slater’s quip about future traffic congestion after rail, while factual, is no reason to oppose the project. Of course traffic will grow along with Oahu’s population – a solid reason to support rail, not try to kill it.

The truth of Mr. Roth’s presentation is that it failed the Four-Way Test by insinuating corruption by city officials without offering any proof whatsoever. In fact, just about everything in the Gang’s presentation – a disjointed combination of observations and accusations – failed Rotary’s Four-Way Test.

We hope that’s how the Mayor approaches his encounter with Rotarians who believe job growth on Oahu will be beneficial to all concerned. He can describe how riding the train will allow patrons to build goodwill and better friendships within their families and associates using the hours they’ll save each week by avoiding traffic on our roads.

The truth about Honolulu rail is that it will be the only way to completely avoid the traffic congestion that’s sapping the vitality out of our economy. Build it and riders will come – and so will the jobs.

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