Thursday, December 15, 2011

More from Misleader-in-Chief Slater: As Usual, His Latest Post Is Example of More Flash than Bang

We asserted here yesterday that anti-railer Cliff Slater has been less than truthful over the years in his opposition to Honolulu rail. His campaign implies things that aren’t true and relies on information that doesn’t pan out.

He’s doing it again at his website in the December 13th post that’s headlined New report says the transit selection process biased in favor of rail. This two-paragraph item is classic Cliff Slater, and we’ll explain why after responding to a friend’s suggestion. If you want to skip this part, jump down to the “New Report” subhead.

Our friend slogged through yesterday’s Yes2Rail post and then emailed the following:

“The logical progression seems OK but it necessarily takes a long time to get there…. In any future address of this issue you might want to emphasize/tinker with the point that it was a HNL/ADV poll question error that is the basis of Slater's confusion. He not only refuses to acknowledge this fact but, more importantly, he disregards knowledge of the error, then he shamelessly and repeatedly floats out his misinformation.”
So before examining Mr. Slater’s latest post (as of this writing), here’s the essence of the Obfuscator-in-Chief’s anti-rail campaign:
• ”ABC” – Always By Car – Slater supports car-based options to deal with Oahu’s increasing congestion with options such as HOT (high occupancy toll) lanes, and he consistently opposes mass transit. The car is king in Mr. Slater’s world.
• He flat-out misrepresents the city’s goals in building Honolulu rail. Mr. Slater’s campaign implies rail is intended to reduce congestion to less than current levels, which is impossible with a growing population (200,000 more Oahu residents in 2030 than in 2005). Mr. Slater knows rail's true purpose, but he misleads his audiences on this point anyway. Yesterday’s post and several others cover this (see our "aggregation site").
• Mr. Slater says the public believes rail's purpose is to relieve congestion (rather than its true goals) and cites a 2008 Honolulu Advertiser public opinion survey as his source of what the public thinks. As noted in yesterday's post, the poll’s question was badly worded to suggest a different goal – traffic reduction. Garbage in, garbage out, and Mr. Slater’s use of this GIGO question's response is described by two other letters.

New Report
Mr. Slater performs the neat trick in his 12/13 post of having it both ways. His opposition to Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) was well-known during the Harris Administration, but his post refers his readers to a report from the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy, an organization that urges BRT instead of rail transit when it's the better option.

The report is titled “Recapturing Global Leadership in Bus Rapid Transit, a Survey of Select U.S. Cities.” However, the headline Mr. Slater posted (second paragraph, above) could easily be interpreted to suggest that Honolulu’s process was biased in favor of rail. That’s not what's in the report. Honolulu is mentioned twice in 75 pages, both times are in passing and without emphasis.

The Institute obviously is pushing BRT, so it’s logical it favors that option over rail throughout the report. Mr. Slater’s headline may in fact reflect the report’s conclusion about rail vs. BRT, but written as it is, the headline seems like a deliberate suggestion of impropriety in Honolulu’s selection process that’s simply not supported by the report.

Now, the Irony
Mr. Slater’s post mentions that “long-time transit enthusiast Congressman Earl Blumenauer, Democrat-Oregon,” wrote the report’s forward. Mr. Blumenauer supports transportation alternatives and concludes, “If American communities are to become more livable, we need all transportation options on the table for consideration.”

BRT is one of those options, and it's ironic that despite Mr. Slater's fight against BRT a decade ago, he uses this report to diminish rail. But here's where the irony ramps up: Mr. Blumenauer spoke highly about Honolulu’s future rail project when he visited here in 2004, as reported by the Honolulu Advertiser:

“People will always tell you the faults of a rail system first and then their resistance to raising local taxes to pay for it. But when one is finally put in place, it has the potential to revolutionize the way people live and work, and then they wonder how they ever lived without it.”
Digging deeper into ABC Slater’s 12/13 post found something other than what he'd like you to know. BRT has its place as Representative Blumenauer suggests, but as a travel alternative for Honolulu, Honolulu's selection process rejected it, and nothing in the Institute's report argues against that result.

We have to believe even Representative Blumenauer would think Honolulu's choice of elevated rail was excellent and appropriate for our city.

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

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