BY JIM DOOLEY – A state study questioning the financial underpinnings of the city’s rail project is “shoddy, biased” work that was prepared with the help of avowed anti-rail activists, Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle said in an afternoon press conference.
The report, prepared by a Mainland consulting firm and released late Thursday afternoon by Gov. Linda Lingle, predicted that general excise tax revenues paying for the project could be as much as $1.7 billion below projections.
Carlisle said those projections are “erroneous” and he is firmly committed to the rail project.
“Today we are on the verge of being able to begin construction of Honolulu’s long-awaited rail project,” he said.
“There are many reasons to be suspicious of the credibility of this review,” said the mayor.
The study, which cost the state $350,000, was prepared by Infrastructure Management Group and CB Richard Ellis.
A “prominent member” of the IMG team, Thomas Rubin, is a “nationally-known anti-rail activist,” said Carlisle.
“This guy is always against rail,” said Carlisle.
Rubin turned to Panos Prevedouros, who campaigned for mayor against Carlisle largely on an anti-rail platform, for assistance in preparing the study, said Carlisle.
“It is no surprise the report is a pre-determined anti-rail rant,” the mayor said.
“Spending a third of a million dollars for this shoddy, biased analysis is an appalling waste of our tax dollars,” he said.
Russell Pang, Gov. Lingle’s press spokesman, could not be reached for comment.
Prevedouros said this afternoon he spoke with Rubin “for about an hour” but had no other involvement in the preparation of the report.
The IMG team “interviewed a lot of people in town” when researching the rail project, Prevedouros said.
He said he originally met Rubin “about five or six years ago” and knows that the consultant “prefers more flexible (transit) systems like buses.”
“He’s very knowledgeable and he knows what a big boondoggle this project will be,” said Prevedouros.
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