Sunday, November 20, 2011

Prediction: Anti-Railers’ Illogical Messaging on Future Congestion Issue Will Be Their Undoing

Today’s Star-Advertiser’s main story on page 1 (“Court fight may decide if rail stays on track” subscription) summarizes the federal court lawsuit that will have its first hearing this month.

The story comprehensively covers the main issues and sets the stage for what’s been expected all along, a court fight that will either validate the opponents’ view of the project or reject it.

The city filed its response to the lawsuit in July, and the federal defendants followed with their own in August. The responses are classic legalese, but Toru Hamayasu, interim executive director of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation, states the city’s position in plain language in today’s story:

“The notion that alternatives and various technologies were not properly considered is incorrect. We followed a comprehensive process that included several layers of review and analysis, public scoping meetings and comment periods and more.
“…This lawsuit is unfortunate and an unnecessary waste of taxpayers’ dollars for the special interests of a select few. We in Hawaii know all too well how lawsuits can delay and increase costs of worthy projects, so it is our hope that this lawsuit is resolved quickly in the taxpayers’ favor."
Judge A. Wallace Tashima of the U.S.. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco will conduct the lawsuit’s first hearing on November 30.

Bogus Messaging
It’s worth noting that today’s newspaper story accents a continuing message by the lawsuit’s prominent “Gang of Four” plaintiffs – that “the city acknowledges Oahu’s traffic congestion will get worse even with rail.” The story continues with the city’s response to the Gang’s talking point – a response so central to understanding the rail project that it deserves boldface type, not parentheses:

“(The City replies that future traffic congestion would be much worse without rail.)”
We’ve written here repeatedly about anti-railer Cliff Slater’s deliberate mischaracterization of rail as a traffic-reduction project (see our “aggregation post” and nearly three dozen links beneath the Mr. Cliff Slater and Friends heading).

Virtually all of his speeches and essays accentuate the observation that traffic will continue to grow on Oahu after rail is added to the mix of travel options. He wants Oahu citizens to believe rail will be a failure if traffic congestion isn’t reduced by building rail.

It’s a dumbed-down argument that disrespects his audiences’ intelligence. Traffic will increase as the population grows along with the number of vehicles on the island. An estimated 200,000 more people will be living here in 2030 compared to 2005; that’s the inevitable consequence of migration to Oahu and of families having babies.

We sincerely hope the plaintiffs’ attorneys attempt to press this Slater-inspired point sometime during the court case. The city’s attorneys would certainly tear it to bits, ending once and for all this deliberate effort by Mr. Slater and friends to confuse the issues and the public.

As Mr. Slater was forced to admit when cornered in a City Council meeting in July 2010: “We don’t disagree at all that rail will have an effect on reducing traffic congestion from what it might be if we did nothing at all….” Rail's actual goals are certain to be highlighted during the case, and residents might well keep them in mind whenever Mr. Slater attempts to recast them as something else.

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

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