Friday, May 11, 2012

What’s Blocking Honolulu Media from Covering One Candidate’s Alleged BRT Plan? He Wants To Kill Rail, so Media Should Be Asking – Right?

Or are we wrong about that? Is there no urgent need to know what Ben Cayetano would impose if he’s elected mayor and is successful in killing Honolulu rail? Are we so deep inside the pro-rail effort that we’re simply wrong to believe the anti-rail candidate owes the public the details of his bus rapid transit plan that he’s borrowed from the Harris Administration?

We’d be bowled over if the reportorial, editorial and management staffs at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, Hawaii News Now, Pacific Business News, KITV and KHON actually responded to the challenge embedded in our headline’s question. (Our “open letters” to Star-Advertiser and PBN reporters covering the mayoral race haven’t evoked a response to date.)

The usual explanation – that journalism isn’t what it used to be and too many reporters exert far too little effort in digging for stories – is too simplistic. There must be something else at play, but what?

Maybe the media have assumed the same attitude as Governor Neil Abercrombie, who weighed in yesterday with a number of views about the election, including this statement to KHON-TV: “I don’t think this election has anything much to do with rail or not-rail anymore.”

Seriously? The stakes are enormous in the 2012 mayoral election; they simply cannot be over-stated, and one issue is planted firmly in the middle – mobility-restoring, travel-time-reducing, development-guiding, transportation-equity-ensuring and job-creating Honolulu rail. We use this phrase in nearly every Yes2Rail post for a reason.

Two candidates support rail for its ability deliver those future attributes. The third candidate wants none of that, and that’s not important? That’s not the issue?

If the Governor’s political experience leads him to believe rail or no-rail isn’t an issue in 2012, what is? Is accountability an issue? Is transparency about what the public should expect from candidates before the election, not after, an issue?

We keep asking these questions because we have to believe the Governor’s political instincts are leading him in the wrong direction this time around. Someone in the mass-market media – enterprise leader Civil Beat isn’t there yet – quite reasonably should break away from that mindset to first ask, then demand answers from Mr. Cayetano about his BRT plan. 

Without the details, we’re buying the proverbial pig in a poke, and surely the Governor would agree that’s simply unacceptable – right?


Anonymous said...

There is a New York think tank that ranks BRT systems according to a scale it developed this year. It is the Institute for Transportation and Development of Policy (ITDP). It uses a 100 pt. scale and those that come close receive a gold, silver or bronze award. I wonder how close Cayetano's BRT system would come, an award or no prize?

Doug Carlson said...

Gotta be less than zero. BRT plans start there in their evaluation, then build up to as high as their attributes will push them. With no plan to go on -- because Cayetano refuses to release his plan before the election -- gotta be <0.