Monday, May 7, 2012

Open Letter to Newspaper Reporter B.J. Reyes: The Other News Media Follow Your Mayoral Race Stories; How 'bout Covering Cayetano BRT Plan?

Dear B.J.,

As the Star-Advertiser’s reporter covering the three-man race for Honolulu mayor, you have the hottest beat in town, and by extension, that makes you one of the most influential journalists in Honolulu.

What you report on that race to a great extent determines what the other media report. It’s been that way for decades. One-time Star-Bulletin City Hall reporter Diane Armstrong and I (for the Advertiser) took bemused umbrage years ago when our coverage routinely showed up in TV newscasts later in the day.

Now that Honolulu has only one daily newspaper, you and your colleagues at the Star-Advertiser are even more influential in setting the media agenda. That’s why I’m writing this open letter to you with a hope you’ll start reporting on what looks like the proverbial “elephant in the living room” in this race.

Doing What Comes Naturally
Mayoral candidate Ben Cayetano has said he’ll install a bus rapid transit plan if he’s elected and is successful in killing mobility-restoring, travel-time-reducing, development-guiding, transportation-equity-ensuring and job creating Honolulu rail.

He alludes to that plan without providing any details – a fairly remarkable position to take in light of the magnitude of his promise. Mr. Cayetano told Civil Beat six weeks ago he’d make those details public by mid-April, but that deadline came and went with no follow-through by the candidate.

It seems obvious by now that Mr. Cayetano is doing what a lot of politicians do when they think they’re leading a race: They duck debates and don’t allow themselves to be bogged down by inconvenient details – in Mr. Cayetano’s case, his BRT plan.

109 Days & Counting
This is where you come in, B.J. Mr.Cayetano formally announced his candidacy on January 19, so it’s past time for him to own up and say exactly how he’d address Oahu’s growing congestion problem if he kills rail. He owes us more than vague references to a 12-year-old plan that was rejected a decade ago.

If it’s the Harris Administration’s BRT plan he wants to install instead of rail, the list of questions is virtually endless – and Yes2Rail started such a list at the end of a recent post.

If you question Mr. Cayetano on the “elephant” that he so far has refused to discuss, B.J., he will either provide those details or he won’t, and you’ll be in the catbird seat – reporting on his response either way and giving the other media in town something to write and talk about, too.

Good luck in snagging the details of Mr. Cayetano’s BRT plan. We’re all counting on you.


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