Anti-railer-in-chief Cliff Slater’s website chimed in to “find it a little strange that at this stage the FTA would approve the current financial plan but have so many difficulties with it.” This was to be expected, of course, as Mr. Slater has been fighting this and every other mass transit project the city has attempted over the years, including Mayor Harris’s bus rapid transit project and Mayor Fasi’s elevated rail effort one and two decades ago respectively.
That’s an appropriate segue for our year-end recall of the major 2011 developments for Honolulu rail, since so many of them involved Mr. Slater’s misinformation campaign.
We’re linking to numerous earlier Yes2Rail posts to keep the year’s final entry from going on forever, but the goals issue is something that simply must stay front and center.
Cliff Slater has implied all year long that the rail project’s goal is to virtually eliminate traffic congestion on our streets and highways. As we first noted in July 2010 and throughout this year, Mr. Slater’s anti-rail stump speech to his audiences – including the Rotary Club of Honolulu in October – relies on verbal trickery:
Mr. Slater first mentions the cost of building Honolulu rail, then says traffic will be worse in the future with rail than it is today. He immediately asks for questions and/or sits down.
Some audiences fall for it and laugh heartily, never questioning Mr. Slater’s specious reasoning. With an ever-increasing population of people and their cars, of course traffic will be worse decades from now than it is today.
Always ignored by Mr. Slater are rail’s true goals – especially the goal of restoring mobility through the urban core between Second City on the ewa plain and downtown Honolulu. He ignores these goals because their logic is unassailable. Rail will be an alternative to wasting hours each week in traffic that can sap both time and vitality out of families’ lives. A letter to the editor today eloquently makes this point in our LTE Forum, below.
Elsewhere, we noted that three such surveys dating to 2008 have found support averaging around the 57-percent mark. The only polls suggesting overwhelming opposition are those conducted by outlets like HawaiiReporter.com, which uses unscientific click-in methods that can rightly be laughed away. The print and broadcast media also engage in this unscientific polling, which earlier this month we suggested should be prominently labeled “for entertainment purposes only.” For uncovering true public opinion, they’re worthless.
Having filed their lawsuit to block rail, Mr. Slater and his three prominent plantiffs (we dubbed them the Gang of Four) launched a media and public relations campaign in August with their 1500-word commentary in the Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat, which continued to fill the investigative journalism vacuum in this city, launched a Fact Check of seven major assertions in the piece and found most were FALSE . That's not much of a record for a Gang that includes a UH law professor, a former governor and a former judge. It's fair to conclude that the op-ed was written by the Gang's fourth member, Mr. Slater, who as we’ve already noted is not averse to spinning, no matter what the facts may be.
After much haggling, HPR agreed to the city’s request that it be given equal time. Mayor Peter Carlisle and HART interim CEO Toru Hamayasu, along with Makakilo resident and rail supporter Maeda Timson, focused on the facts in a late October program, and as we posted the next day, countered “opponents’ earlier penchant for bombast.”
Our October 28th post discusses a 2008 radio show and has a link to it that might well be bookmarked for future reference whenever Mr. Slater in 2012 accuses the city of never telling the public traffic congestion will continue to increase even if rail is built. Mr. Slater even agrees on the show with fellow guest Wayne Yoshioka, city director of Transportation services, that congestion logically will continue to grow, yet that and his other public statements to this effect haven’t stayed his misleading comments about congestion.
Rail will be our traffic savior (Star-Advertiser, 12/30)
“To all those opposed to the rail transit system: You are the very people who will be gridlocked on the freeway and not be able to move.
“You will get out of your automobiles, raise both hands to the heavens and you will profess: ‘Where is the rail?’
“The rail will be a breath of fresh air in the morning, afternoon and evening compared to a very crowded freeway.
“I do not want Honolulu to become a gridlocked city.”
The Honolulu letter-writer said in 79 words what we’ve devoted tens of thousands of words to in 2011. The year to come will demand many more of them that we'll be more than happy to provide. Some of those future automobile drivers will be our grandchildren, and it's for them – more than us – that Honolulu rail is being built.