Thursday, October 27, 2011

Today’s ‘Town Square’ Show Will Be Opportunity for Officials To Refute Bogus Anti-Rail Allegations

It took some doing, but the producers of Hawaii Public Radio’s weekly “Town Square” talk show finally agreed to bring city officials onto the program six weeks after rail opponents enjoyed a one-sided conversation last month.

Mayor Peter Carlisle, Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation Authority’s Interim Executive Director Toru Hamayasu and Makakilo resident Maeda Timson will be on today’s “Town Square” on KIPO-FM (89.3), 5 to 6 pm.

It was more than a little surprising that public radio didn't immediately schedule the city to rebut what rail opponents Cliff Slater and Randall Roth told the "Town Square" audience on September 15th. The program contained inflammatory language, vague accusations and gave rail opponents an unfettered hour to blast the project. They offered no proposals to move people over, under or around the highway congestion that Oahu residents are finding increasingly intolerable.

All they had in their kit was opposition to rail as they filled their hour by essentially accusing city officials of lying. Mr. Slater’s key talking point yet again was the totally false accusation that the city has hid the truth about future traffic congestion.  His big "revelation," which he treats as proof of his investigative prowess, is that traffic congestion will be worse with rail in place than it is today.

We’ve taken pains over the past 16 months (see our "aggregation" site linked from the red copy at right) to show why (1) Mr. Slater is relying on a ludicrous and dumbed-down argument against rail; (2) traffic will of course increase with a couple hundred thousand more residents on the island, and (3) the city has been transparent in discussing rail’s intended effect on congestion – reducing it from levels it would grow to if rail were not built.

Mr. Roth spent his airtime scolding the city with hyperbolic statements: “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 clearly has swallowed Mr. Slater’s talking point hook, line and sinker with no proof of city malfeasance in his worked-up accusations about future traffic and alleged conflicts of interest. He offered no viable alternative to rail to provide congestion relief – probably because he has none. The law professor's suggestion that synching traffic lights might do the trick is embarrassingly naïve.

Today’s Talking Points
Online Civil Beat already has passed judgment on the anti-railers’ August op-ed piece. Its analysis of seven issues in the piece concluded that five were either false or half-false (CB politely termed them “half-true”) – a result so infuriating to the Gang of Four that it denounced Civil Beat today in yet another commentary, a sure sign the gang is desperate.

The anti-railers’ credibility is weak, and that can be a focus during at least part of today’s show:

Accusations by Mr. Slater and Mr. Roth about city transparency were false. The city has always been open in describing the rail project’s goals, and reducing traffic congestion decades from now to 2011 levels is not one of them! It’s a preposterous suggestion that Mr. Slater in particular has been flogging in his campaign to confuse Oahu residents about rail.

Cliff Slater is anti-mass transit – always has been and apparently always will be. His only idea to address Oahu’s highway congestion problem is to build more highways. Studies of metropolitan areas’ experience over several decades show that more highways don’t improve congestion. Rail travel completely avoids it.

Mr. Slater’s preference for High-Occupancy Toll roads (see his quotes from the September 15th show) discriminates against people who don’t own and/or travel by car and those who can’t afford to pay the tolls. HOT lanes are another car-based idea that can’t possibly address Honolulu’s requirement for fast, frequent, reliable and safe transportation through the city.

Rail’s goals are influenced by society’s 21st-century requirements to conserve time, money, resources and space in providing transportation for the masses. Building more highways was the 20th century's solution.

One of rail’s goals is to provide for a rational means to develop the island throughout the decades ahead using transit-oriented development near rail stations. TOD will cluster housing and commerce and reduce the necessity for families to own multiple vehicles.

Here’s hoping today’s radio guests find 5 minutes to read the long quotes from the Slater-Roth show, linked in the bullet point above, or devote a whole hour to listening to the archived version. Doing so could only help prepare them for today’s terrific opportunity to tell rail’s story and blow away the anti-railers’ rhetoric.

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