BY MALIA ZIMMERMAN – Former Gov. Benjamin Cayetano lashed out at Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle, who at a pro-rail rally yesterday, accused Cayetano of the being a source of misinformation that has caused “a backlash” against the city’s planned $5.3 billion elevated steel on steel rail project.
Carlisle was with U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye and mayoral candidate Kirk Caldwell when all three gave a pep talk to construction workers at Kiewit Pacific about the project’s future.
Kiewitt is the primary contractor for the first part of the 20 mile rail line, and workers are starting construction.
Recent polls show public support for the project has dropped dramatically in the last several months. Just about 33 percent of the public now supports what will be Hawaii’s largest and most expensive public works project.
Carlisle told the workers: “We need you not only to be the army that builds this project, we need you to be the army that sells this project to everybody you know.”
Carlisle added: “If we have that kind of army, that will defeat the enemy in a heartbeat.”
Was he calling Cayetano “the enemy” or were all rail opponents tagged with that label?
Carlisle is “prone to making stupid statements,” Cayetano said.
He added the rail project has already been sold to the public with the help of $5 million in taxpayer money, 10 public relations firms hired on the taxpayers dime and the editorial endorsement of the Honolulu Star Bulletin and The Honolulu Advertiser before they merged – and the Honolulu Star Advertiser now that they are one.
“If anyone is putting out misinformation, it is Peter,” Cayetano said. “Give me a break.”
He added, “Before I got into this mayor’s race, Peter did not care about the rail. He let Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation Interim Director Toru Hamayasu run the project. When Hamayasu authorized a $15 million change order, he never told the administration about it. We all learned about it when Kevin Dayton wrote the article about it in the Star Advertiser. And when the city managing director Doug Chin waved the 20 percent debt ceiling for rail, Carlisle never knew about it. So who is the enemy of misinformation?”
Cayetano said Inouye, Carlisle and Caldwell held the rally yesterday because “they are worried” about the future of rail, the federal lawsuit that is challenging the Environmental Impact of the project in which Cayetano is one of seven plaintiffs, and Cayetano’s campaign for mayor.
“We are just going to keep plugging away,” Cayetano said.
Cayetano held his own meeting yesterday in Mililani, where he served a chili and rice dinner and asked his “Truth Squad” to report on the rail project as well as address the city budget and failing infrastructure. About 200 people attended plus 30 volunteers.
“It was better than anything we expected,” Cayetano said about the turnout. “People brought their families and they had a whole slew of questions.”