Saturday, June 23, 2012
Something To Know about Letters to the Editor: They Don’t Have To Be Accurate To Be Printed
Attention Newspaper Readers: What you read in the letters column may not be factual.
The city has not spent a dime of the rail “line of credit” fund approved by the City Council earlier this month, but that’s not what’s in today’s rail-related letter to the editor (subscription):
Rail costs have only just begun (Star-Advertiser, 6/23)
Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle said that “the likelihood is next to zero” that a $450 million line of credit will ever be used for the rail transit project…. The next day, we learned that we’ve only just begun, and already the city is tapping the contingency fund for overruns and unexpected costs.
We are up to $88 million and counting, and Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation Director Daniel Grabauskas that “it is not unusual.” I find this flippant attitude to be appalling and a direct disregard of where the money is coming from to pay for all of this.
We all know the payback will mean increased taxes….
The writer is confused. The line of credit that received 7-to-2 support from the Council will be an emergency-only “cash cushion” (the Star-Advertiser’s description) if completely unexpected developments occur.
HART CEO Grabauskas described the fund in a city press release: “The funding source Bill 37 provides would only be used as a last resort if there is a dramatic, unforeseen circumstance.” HART does not expect to use it.
A completely separate fund that’s already built into the project’s $5.3 billion budget is a contingency fund to cover increased costs above the original estimate. That fund is the source of the $88 million mentioned in the letter to the editor.
They’re not the same. The city has not tapped the line of credit, and the letter writer has it completely wrong.
The letters column isn’t where you go if you’re looking for facts. It’s all about opinion, and that’s why it’s there – to give readers a place to vent.
But don’t lap up everything you read there as factual. Today’s anti-rail letter obviously isn’t.
Come to think of it, you have to be careful about what you read elsewhere, too. (See the numerous links to anti-railer Cliff Slater's comments at our aggregation site.) It's a maxim for a reason: "Consider the source."