This isn’t a hypothetical question about what the Nazis did a long lifetime ago. It’s happening now in Honolulu.
After posting our Prediction on Sunday, we went to the Internet to get a sense of how viral Cliff Slater’s basic talking point has gone. Mr. Slater’s “big lie” is that the Honolulu rail project is being built to reduce congestion on our streets and highways.
He wants the public to believe traffic reduction is the project’s goal because such a goal is unattainable. Oahu’s population total is expected to be 200,000 higher in 2030 than it was in 2005. The number of vehicles to service that population also will be much higher than today.
If natural population growth will increase congestion after rail is built, Mr. Slater’s reasoning is that rail should not be built if it can’t produce absolute reductions in traffic congestion from current levels. It’s a bizarre proposition, but that’s what he wants you to think. (The project’s actual goals were listened in a January post.)
Here’s a short and incomplete review of Mr. Slater’s “big lie” presence on the Internet in no particular order:
• City Council meeting, July 2010: Mr. Slater used the occasion of a Council hearing on rail to assert his familiar refrain about traffic being worse in the future after rail is built than it is today. The city’s Wayne Yoshioka responded, “No kidding…,” etc. It was probably the best ever put-down of Mr. Slater’s specious talking point. As Mr. Yoshioka noted, the city has never misled the public on traffic issues – something Mr. Slater does routinely.
• “STOP THEIR TRAIN!” newspaper ad, July 2011: The ad solicited funds to support Mr. Slater’s lawsuit that was filed with the intent of killing rail. Using the “big lie,” the ad says the city “admits” that traffic will be worse in the future, which is no admission at all – just a fact.
• “How the city misled the public” Star-Advertiser commentary, August 2011: This 1500-word piece dredged up the past and offered nothing new (our assessment at the time). Civil Beat went to town fact-checking seven statements in the op-ed and found two FALSE , three HALF FALSE (CB called them half truths), and two TRUE . As we noted, one of those allegedly TRUEs deserved a flat-out FALSE . The op-ed piece popped up elsewhere, such as at this Hawaii Political Info site.
• Civil Beat commentary, September 2011: The lawsuit plaintiffs responded to Civil Beat’s fact-checking by complaining the independent online investigative news organization “went to extraordinary lengths trying to convince it readers we were wrong” in their newspaper op-ed piece. The “big lie” is the centerpiece of the Gang of Four’s complaint against Civil Beat. Mr. Slater takes advantage of CB’s comments sections to bang away with his “worse” point, as he did in October and December 2010.
• Pacific Business News editorial, August 2011: With little evidence of independent analysis, PBN’s new editorial leadership bought into Mr. Slater’s same old arguments that had failed to persuade the business weekly’s earlier management team. It ran the “worse-in-the-future” comment first in a list of "highlights."
• Letter to Pacific Business News, October 2008: More of the same re “the city has to admit (but only when pressed)…” that traffic will be worse with rail than it is today. The more we look into it, the more evidence we find that the “big lie” is the centerpiece of Mr. Slater’s campaign against rail.
• Hawaii Reporter, numerous times: This online aggregator of anti-rail opinions is ever ready to publish Mr. Slater’s “worse-in-the-future” talking point, whether signed or unsigned. For examples, go here and here.
This post has been added to our “aggregation site” under the heading Mr. Cliff Slater (and Friends).