We’re on the outside – just like the 99.9999 percent of Oahu residents who have nothing to do with the case, and it’s on the outside where the plaintiffs are continuing their public relations campaign against rail that began in August. We have to take on face value what attorneys for both sides say in front of the federal judge, but what rail opponents say to the media is another matter.
In court, Judge Tashima denied the defendants’ motion to remove several plaintiffs from the case based on the city’s claim they failed to participate in several years of rail’s environmental impact statement and other processes. The judge said the argument is “premature” since the entire record of the administrative proceedings is still being compiled. The city says half a million documents are involved and that it will renew the motion once the judge has the complete record before him.
Outside federal court, plaintiff attorney Nicolas Yost called the ruling “a complete victory and a confirmation that the city/county motion was a waste of the court’s time and the taxpayers’ money,” according to the anti-rail Hawaii Reporter blog. Rail opponent Cliff Slater accused the city and Federal Transit Administration of intentionally “dragging their feet” to drive up the plantiffs’ expenses in paying Yost and his team. Plaintiff Ben Cayetano said the same: “I think they knew as well as we did that they had little chance of winning that motion, and we had to spend attorneys’ fees just to rebut the motion.”
It’s all spin, of course, since it’s based on nothing more than the plaintiffs’ predictable opinions that they hope will influence the public once they see media coverage generated in their Spin Zone. There’s plenty of reason to treat these statements with a grain of salt. Independent online news source Civil Beat found little truth in the Gang of Four’s August 21st newspaper commentary.
With the FTA monitoring the city’s progress every step of the way, it’s implausible that the city would have been careless and deficient during the long process leading to route and alternative selection, but readers can judge for themselves.
The record is available for examination at the project’s website. A search for “noise” finds the word on 78 pages of the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS); “cultural” is on 100 pages, “historic” on 179, “alternatives” on 119, “route” on 80 and “environment” on 481. Those are pages, not the number of actual mentions in the FEIS.
A random search for “alternatives" finds this paragraph from Chapter 8, page 23 in the FEIS; it deals with a favorite of some architects and others in the community – at-grade transit on a route that includes Hotel Street in downtown Honolulu:
This case may last until next summer or later, giving the plaintiffs dozens of opportunities to continue their PR offensive in the Spin Zone, a tactic than can be pretty offensive, indeed.