Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Rail Opponents Take Their Show on the Road, so Preparing Questions for Them Only Makes Sense

If the end of the world actually happens on Friday as Harold Camping now predicts, it really doesn’t matter that two opponents of the Honolulu rail project are making numerous stops in their anti-rail crusade that began in August.

We’re surmising that Mr. Camping will be proven wrong again and that Cliff Slater will be undeterred in his role as leader of the road show. He and three fellow plaintiffs on a lawsuit that they hope will kill rail made a stop at the Rotary Club of Honolulu last week. Mr. Slater and Ben Cayetano followed that up two days later on public TV, and there’s no telling where they'll show up next.

When they do, it seems only right that they should answer some questions. We created the TEN QUESTIONS project for their TV appearance, but since none of them were used by the program’s host, these questions are still ripe for asking if the occasion arises anywhere along the way.

If Mr. Slater actually gains the floor somewhere, we can predict now with a high degree of confidence what he’ll say in any venue. First, he’ll tell his audience the cost of the Honolulu rail project, and then he’ll say traffic congestion will be worse in the future with rail than it is today – and then he’ll sit down.

No Deviations
That’s Mr. Slater’s routine, and he rarely if ever deviates from it. It’s how he conducted his now infamous Civil Beat interview in July 2010, and it’s exactly what he said and did last week at the Rotary club.

What’s the significance? Simply this: Mr. Slater wants his audiences to believe rail shouldn’t be built if it won’t dramatically reduce traffic congestion. He’s a highwayman at heart, so it doesn’t matter to him that Honolulu rail is a mass transit project that has four perfectly reasonable and attainable goals that will benefit Honolulu residents.

If rail won’t slash congestion in 2030 to less than we have today, it would be a failure in Mr. Slater’s book. Of course, his book is a work of fiction. With 200,000 more residents living on Oahu in 2030 than in 2005, congestion will of course be greater than today. Couples will start families, and people will continue to move here, and unless Mr. Slater has some schemes up his sleeve to prevent that from happening, both the population and traffic congestion will grow.

So if there’s an opportunity to ask Mr. Slater questions at any upcoming event, the questioning might begin with this one – an adaptation of Question #5 in our TEN QUESTIONS project:

“Mr. Slater, you continue to suggest that Honolulu rail will be a failed project if it doesn’t reduce traffic congestion decades from now to less than what we have today. That seems like an illogical assertion, since with two hundred thousand more people living on the island in 2030 compared to 2005, congestion is bound to increase, as I’m sure you’ll agree. This is a two-part question: At your core, isn’t your motivation solely to reduce road congestion and you don’t care much at all about building rail, which will offer a congestion-free way to travel through the city? And second, why do you persist in accusing the city of withholding information about future congestion when you know that accusation is false?”
He knows his accusation is false. There’s plenty of evidence that the city has been transparent about future congestion, including the radio program that Mr. Slater and the city’s Wayne Yoshioka appeared on about this very subject – future traffic congestion. You can’t be much more transparent than to be conversing on the public airwaves. (You can read a revealing quote by Mr. Slater while on that program here.)

If you happen to be at an event where Mr. Slater says why he’s against Honolulu rail, please let us know if our prediction came true by adding a comment, below.

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