BY CLIFF SLATER – ON SUNDAY, the Star Advertiser headline was, “Rail support falls,” and discussed the decline in the number of residents who believe the rail project should be continued; 53 percent believe it should not versus 45 percent who believe it should.
It is really good news that people have now turned against the rail project. There are three major reasons for this. First, having heavyweights the like of Democratic Hawaii Gov. Ben Cayetano, former state Democratic Party Chairman Walter Heen and University of Hawaii law school professor Randy Roth, Senator Sam Slom, the Outdoor Circle and Hawaii’s Thousand Friends join us in a lawsuit has to set people aback.
This is an unlikely assortment across the political and philosophical spectrum to be agreeing about anything. Nevertheless, they joined together in opposition to the ugliness, the horrendous cost, the misinformation and the recklessness of our two recent mayors in how they spent money wantonly. The greatest effect was to make people sit up and pay attention.
Second, the people are discovering that rail will not reduce our current level of traffic congestion. A recent questioner in a talk we gave recently summed it up. “Why on earth are we spending $5 billion on a project that won’t reduce traffic congestion?”
Third, the recklessness of the spending left people uneasy. Spending over $5 million on PR, awarding contracts before they were necessary, and beginning the heavy work on rail when it faces great possibility of being cancelled.
No federal funds have been appropriated by Congress, our lawsuit is more likely to win than lose, Ben Cayetano may well be elected Honolulu Mayor and cancel it, and the FTA may not give it their final approval for its financial plan.