Mr. Okino says the entry of anti-rail Ben Cayetano into the mayoral campaign is “the latest chapter in the effort to nullify the democratic process and thwart the will of the voters…. His candidacy has provided a platform to resurrect the entire catalog of anti-rail misinformation.”
It was “small wonder that support for rail took a dip” in the poll, he writes. “A single isolated shot of opinion should not be seized on as an excuse to second-guess the wisdom of rail transit or the years of planning and input that have gone into making it a reality.”
Elsewhere on the same page as Mr. Okino’s commentary, syndicated columnist Leonard Pitts has an “open letter" to African-American young people. “You should know all about (stereotypes)” he writes. “After all, the stereotypes about you are manifold…. Indeed, one is reminded of the axiom that if you repeat a lie long enough, people will accept it as truth….”
The constant repetition of misinformation on rail may be having the same effect. One talking point in particular used by rail opponents is notable not only for its misinformation but also for its lack of intellectual honesty.
It’s logical to conclude that the stepped-up campaigns by the two pro-rail candidates for mayor will have the effect of moving public opinion back into the pro-rail column.
The 'No Information' Campaign
Misinformation is one thing, but no information is another. We’ve been promoting the view that if someone vows to kill the rail project if elected, he or she has an obligation to describe an alternate transportation plan in considerable detail.
To date, that still hasn’t happened in Mr. Cayetano’s campaign. We know nothing more today than we did five weeks ago when he officially announced his candidacy about how he proposes to speed the daily commute for scores of thousands of Oahu residents through the urban corridor – nothing more than vague references to express lanes, buses and San Diego's trolley.
Mr. Okino’s first-hand experience with the detailed planning that’s gone into the rail project presumably motivates him to speak out against the pig-in-a-poke approach pursued by leading rail opponents. He’s been vocal in his support for rail and has appeared twice in the past two years on public TV’s “Island INSIGHTS” programs, linked above.
He and Mr. Cayetano were among the guests on the October 13, 2011 show and had this memorable exchange:
Mr. Okino: “…So the choice of the people will be, 30 minutes on the train (or) two hours in traffic on the freeway. I guarantee you there will be a whole bunch of guys getting outta their cars.”
Mr. Cayetano: “…Are you gonna walk out from your house to a bus stop, wait for a bius, take the bus down to the rail station and then wait for the rail to get on it to get downtown?”
Mr. Okino: “If it takes me two hours to commute by car, of course!”
The Star-Advertiser op-ed commentary that kicked off the Gang of Four’s anti-rail PR campaign in August – Mr. Cayetano is one of the Gang – included this question: “Where will commuters park their cars?”
As we noted at the time, anti-railers “just don’t get that cars eventually won’t be a necessity for scores of thousands of commuters who, without rail, would have to drive. Rail will be part of a public transit system….”
Driving will seem even less attractive when gas prices years from now hit much higher levels – higher than even in 2007 when the price of oil hit $147 per barrel in mid-summer.
The cost of driving will be another key factor in helping Oahu residents choose rail for their daily commute if they live anywhere within a convenient distance of a station. Maybe that won’t matter to the wealthier members of the community, including leading anti-rail activists, but will it matter to the average man and woman who must take gas prices into account?
We’ll quote Mr. Okino's answer again: “Of course!”