Sunday, March 18, 2012

Paper Blasts Candidate’s Anti-Rail Tactics and His ‘Email-Gate’ Ploy as Disservice to Community, Says Bus-Van-Rail Transit Will Improve Mobility; The ‘Rotten Apple Effect’ Could Be Happening

It looks like the Star-Advertiser’s editorial page staff has had enough. Ben Cayetano, the anti-rail candidate in the mayoral race, launched his campaign two months ago tomorrow, and the rail debate has gone downhill ever since.

Mr. Cayetano’s Tuesday release of five emails written by Federal Transit Administration employees years ago may have been the straw that broke the newspaper's silence.  Having heard his latest attacks on Honolulu rail, today's newspaper (subscription required) says enough is enough in a ringing editorial denunciation of his “Email-Gate” finger-pointing – Cayetano's rail tactics a disservice.

Elsewhere in the editorial section, a long piece describes how rail will improve transit service by integrating the line with other transit vehicles – Trains, Buses and Vans. The article is complemented by Star-Advertiser graphic designer David Swann’s eye-catching depiction of the future transit system’s three components working together to improve mobility for Oahu residents everywhere they live.

Reversing a Trend
For the moment, at least this corner of the Honolulu journalism community – the leading one – has shown it's still performing in the public interest. Yes2Rail asked two days ago where the media’s objectivity has gone and supplied recent examples of unprofessional writing and reporting.

There’s nothing unprofessional about today’s editorial and the transit-integration article. Now we wait for the inevitable reactions from Mr. Cayetano and his brain trust, anti-railer-in-chief Cliff Slater.

As of this writing, Mr. Slater’s website is still topped by some of the same tired rhetoric he’s been using for years about future congestion levels after rail is built (see our “aggregation site” and the numerous posts under the Mr. Cliff Slater and Friends heading).

You may have to search by date – March 17 – since Mr. Slater's website doesn’t make it easy to link individual posts. Under the headline The Greatest Lie of All, Mr. Slater writes, “The City never told the truth about traffic congestion reduction.”

Rotten-Apple Effect
That itself could be called a lie. It’s Mr. Slater’s contention (picked up by Mr. Cayetano and two other Gang of Four members, Randy Roth and Walter Heen) that the city has hidden facts about congestion levels on our highways decades from now.

Using that blatant misrepresentation, the Gang promotes a preposterous talking point: Since congestion will be worse in the future after rail is built than it is now, we don’t need rail and it shouldn’t be built. It ignores the effect another 200,000 people living on the Oahu will have by 2030 or so – more vehicles and more congestion. Nothing can make congestion disappear, but commuters who ride the train will avoid congestion entirely.

This dumbed-down and cynical argument at the heart of the Gang of Four’s rhetoric could be the proverbial rotten apple that spoils their whole campaign. Try searching the Internet for phrases like “where there is no integrity” and “integrity is everything.”

You’ll find hundreds of hits, and they all boil down to what one site says: “Where there is no integrity, other virtues have no chance of developing. You either live with integrity or you don’t.”

The Star-Advertiser is demanding integrity from candidates seeking the most important government position in the City and County of Honolulu. The newspaper’s editorial says Mr. Cayetano’s recent anti-rail remarks and tactics ”sow seeds of doubt rather than informing people responsibly. Honolulu residents, and voters in the mayoral election, deserve better.”

We won't get it from the anti-rail opposition if rotten-apple rhetoric is more evident than integrity.

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