Wednesday, November 16, 2011

With President Out of Town a Few Weeks, Focus Returns to Top Anti-Railer’s Smokescreen Efforts; Rotary Video Edited To Make It Less Offensive

We reluctantly leave the anti-railers’ upset over APEC-connected traffic jams; there’s just so much irony in their opposition to grade-separated transit, which is the proven way to avoid traffic congestion.

But an equally rich vein to mine is the obfuscation campaign conducted by anti-railers like Cliff Slater. If his website has a theme, it’s a determination to divert the visitor’s attention from that central fact by highlighting other issues.

Case in point is the website’s video of the anti-rail presentation to the Rotary Club of Honolulu on October 11 by four plaintiffs in the federal lawsuit intended to kill rail. We attended that presentation and called attention here at Yes2Rail the next day about its shallow content.

Let’s Go to the Tape
Our October 12th post noted Mr. Slater’s familiar routine in making his anti-rail pitches, something we’ve been pointing out since we first saw it on July 12, 2010 in his interview with Civil Beat. Here’s our review of Mr. Slater’s Rotary talk:

“We’ve repeatedly called attention to Mr. Slater’s dumbed-down anti-rail rhetoric because it suggests his campaign has a problem at its core. As he did in July 2010, Mr. Slater yesterday told his audience that rail will cost X billions of dollars to build, then said traffic will be worse in the future after rail is built than it is today – and then he sat down!”
It’s the simplistic nature of his pitch that deserves attention. As we’ve noted innumerable times and as the city also freely acknowledges, of course traffic will be worse in the future than it is today! With a couple hundred thousand more residents by 2030, how could it NOT be worse?

Here’s where Mr. Slater’s Rotary video gets interesting: The video has been edited to insert other material between the “here’s what it will cost” part and the “traffic will be worse” part. See it for yourself.

Mr. Slater begins the essence of his opening remarks at the video’s 3:00 mark. His presentation proceeds as usual for 22 seconds; in his “live” performance he continued on to the “traffic will be worse” bit, then asked for questions without taking any and then sat down.

But not on the video. At 3:23, new material has been inserted – remarks Mr. Slater made later at the Rotary Club meeting after anti-rail pitches by Messrs. Roth, Cayetano and Heen. He uses the 13 inserted seconds to deride the appearance of the rail system’s stations, which he calls “ugly as sin.”

At 3:36, the video jumps back to the original “live” sequence of events: “To cap it off,” says Mr. Slater, “the city admits in the EIS that traffic congestion in the future, with rail, will be worse than it is today. So do you have any questions?”

The line produced Mr. Slater’s hoped-for response – laughter. As a 20-year Rotarian, we felt a tinge of embarrassment at the time for those who had succumbed to Mr. Slater’s misleading rhetoric.

Traffic congestion growth is normal, natural and expected over time, and reacting to Mr. Slater’s opening gambit as if he had just delivered the coup de gras to the project was – well, embarrassing.

The editing job is telling, too. It tells us that criticism of Mr. Slater’s shallow presentation opening seems to be getting through. If not, why did he find it necessary to edit the Rotary video? Why did he change the sequence of the October 11th presentation from what Rotarians saw that day?

We think the answer is that he, too, now realizes the folly of his dumbed-down illogical conclusion – that rail will fail if traffic continues to increase. What seemed to him to be a good argument in July 2010 has long since started to ring hollow. With just a little thought, citizens are able to see through it.

Mr. Slater still seems capable of fooling some of the people all of the time, like many of the good Rotarians he met last month, but as another American president once famously remarked, you can’t fool all the people all the time.

With Oahu residents consistently giving their majority support to Honolulu rail, Mr. Slater’s ability to fool most people has passed.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Here's more obfuscation, on their website (Honolulutraffic), they post the latest DOT energy intensity chart for rail systems, then proceed to quote 3,538 BTUs per pax mile for autos. What's left out is that there is a much higher figure for light trucks. Anyone who lives in Honolulu knows trucks and SUVs comprise of close to half of all the vehicles on the road. That drastically alters the equation.