Ben Cayetano appears to not understand the rail project’s goals. What he does understand and use is Cliff Slater’s anti-rail spin that we’ve highlighted and criticized repeatedly since July 12, 2010, when Civil Beat posted its interview with the anti-railer-in-chief.
Yes2Rail devoted the first few posts of 2011 to Honolulu rail’s goals, since it was obvious even then that Mr. Slater was misstating those goals as a favored tactic. From January 6, 2011:
The logic of building elevated rail in our space-restricted, cramped island environment is so strong that Mr. Slater apparently knew he couldn’t succeed in fighting the project straight up. His campaign would have to attract attention by twisting facts to suggest a plausible anti-rail argument.
Only reluctantly did he admit before the City Council in July 2010: “We don’t disagree at all that rail will have an effect on reducing traffic congestion from what it might be if we did nothing at all.” He doesn’t disagree, but he also doesn’t admit it unless cornered.
The Star-Advertiser’s subhead in its page-one story today (subscription) says, “If the former governor wins and refuses to fund rail transit, money and jobs may disappear.” Killing rail would have huge consequences for Honolulu and Oahu residents; ask trade union members who are counting on thousands of construction jobs, and ask west-end residents who look forward to taking the train and avoiding congestion that steals away their time each day they commute to and from town.
With stakes this high, you should expect candidates to know truth from fiction, logic from spin. Mr. Cayetano’s statements suggest he’s content to use the same spin tactic that Cliff Slater has perfected over several years.
Here’s Mr. Cayetano’s campaign website’s statement on traffic and rail: “…according to the City’s own EIS (rail) will not reduce current traffic congestion. In other words, traffic congestion in the future will be worse than today – even with rail.” It's the same message he had for the talk show host two days before his announcement.
There it is – Cliff Slater’s misleading, dumbed-down, cleverly-constructed anti-rail spin, and now it's been elevated to even greater prominence by candidate Cayetano.
We’ve banged away at Mr. Slater’s tactic for 18 months now, and others also have found flaws in the Gang’s anti-rail rhetoric. Of the seven statements in their August op-ed piece, only two were judged to be TRUE in Civil Beat’s Fact Check. Two were FALSE and three HALF FALSE .
It goes without saying that it would be helpful at the outset of this mayoral race if candidates would start playing straight with the public on the rail issue. By suggesting rail would be a failure if congestion is worse decades from now than it is today, Mr. Cayetano is not leading a sensible discussion on rail; he’s following Cliff Slater’s decades-long spin.
What’s missing in Mr. Cayetano’s campaign are the details about how he intends to address Oahu’s congestion problem and give commuters relief. So far he’s mentioned trolleys and buses without giving any specifics. Without the details, we don’t know what Mr. Cayetano is for – just what he’s against.
This post has been added to our "aggregation" site under the Mr. Cliff Slater (and Friends) heading.