The Comments section below rail stories in the Star-Advertiser supports this axiom. It attracts rail opponents like ants to a picnic or, judging from many of their anonymous comments, flies to a sewer.
Well-constructed, articulate letters supportive of Honolulu rail stand apart from anti-rail op-ed pieces and letters for both their civility and depth. A good contrast can be seen between a letter in today’s paper (see LTE Forum, below) and the Gang of Four’s (aka Cliff Slater’s) op-ed piece last Sunday (subscription required for both).
Here’s a summary of the Gang’s main points on 1/8:
• The piece disagrees with the newspaper’s coverage of the FTA’s December 30th authorization for the city to enter into Final Design. It says Congress hasn’t appropriated any of the $1.55 billion in federal funds for the Honolulu project. Call it quibbling. (Jan. 12th Update: Rail official refutes Gang's allegation.)
• The commentary says the FTA has “firmly rejected” several project financial plans. Call it not true; here’s what the FTA wrote: “Regarding the Financial Capacity Assessment, FTA notes that the financial plan HART submitted is sufficient to advance the project into final design (emphasis added). However, it must be further strengthened before FTA will consider awarding (a Full Final Grant Agreement).”
• The piece “doubts” HART can justify its several assumptions about future financial considerations. Call it standard anti-rail skepticism.
• The Gang cites other city financial obligations beyond rail and says paying for rail might exceed the city’s capabilities. Call it wishful thinking.
• Finally, the commentary once again scrambles facts in suggesting the city duped residents by promising rail would reduce traffic congestion below current levels. Call it dishonest – and we have in numerous posts. See our “aggregation” site below the Mr. Cliff Slater (and Friends) heading.
Oahu rail system is long overdue (Star-Advertiser, 1/11)
The letter is a straight-forward, thoughtful assessment of the rail project and one reason it’s being built – as an alternative to continued reliance on cars and what fuels them and the congestion they cause. The writer sums up the opposition neatly from his perspective; he uses common sense and doesn’t quibble about the present or past, doesn’t misstate the truth and doesn’t obfuscate the issues.
And since the writer lives in Kailua on the opposite side of the mountain from the rail system, his pro-rail letter reflects an attitude that what benefits others along the route benefits everyone on the island. It’s called “community” – an appreciation missing in most anti-rail commentaries, along with their answer to the question, “If not rail, what?”
The letters column has two other rail-related letters – both reacting to Bette Midler's anti-rail letter printed on Sunday. One asks, "Does Bette Midler think that the high-rise monstrosities that line our coastline, and are now the view, are better than a 20-foot-high rail?" Our sentiments exactly.