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.”
I feel a bit sorry for Carlisle. He’d likely have made a good mayor for a long time if he hadn’t failed so badly at walking the necessary tightrope to remain popular enough to be re-elected while finding a way to cancel Mufi’s fiscal black hole of a train. Although his folks deny it, unquestionably there was an occult message that Carlisle propagated in the run-up to his election, namely that he would take a good look at everything (implication: train too) once in to see if it made sense. Instead he sold out to the carpenter’s union before the election and an honest re-look at the train was off-the-table.
Other than that, Carlisle would likely be a better mayor than Cayetano, certainly better than Caldwell. The problem is that the train is such a huge and pending fiscal fiasco that it far outweighs anything else good that Carlisle might ever do and his shrill and nearly comical defense of this boondoggle has instead exposed him as an increasingly desperate candidate who is (wisely) sensing that he has absolutely NO chance of re-election.
I once thought the guy was pretty smart and understood that his only chance was to get into office, undo the train and make people like the decision. He didn’t even try.
Carlisle needs to stop taking vacations with his wife on our dime and start fixing things…nothing has improved…no wait, except for that 6 mile median stretch along Nimitz and it’s pretty trees…
…he was a good prosecutor, he should’ve stayed there.
Carlisle looked like a pathetic figure addressing the Kiewit construction workers, imploring them to “talk to family and friends about this rail project”. That $5.7 billion dollar train has already left the terminal on its one-way trip out of Hawaii. Now Mr. Mayor, perhaps we’ll be able to afford soap in our public restrooms. You think?!
The Rail Hat Trick Team are scared and changing their panties daily as support dwindles. And they should be scared. The tax payers of Hawaii need to get pissed off and really get involved in changing the guard of Honilulu and Hawaii. Anyone with more than 2 terms under their belt needs to go. Out with the old, the weak, and the ignorant in our elected offices.
There never was an honest reason for rail given to the taxpayers that would have to heft the bill,already overburdened with others and a huge COL, only getting worse transportation scenario with RAIL in store. Rail will not ease the transit problem. HandiVan is bad and getting worse by the seconds as more are turned down and more are denied adequate transit, given only transit to the doctor, but left shut-in and cannot get out to buy food. Mahalo City Council and HART for making people with disabilities and elderly people now shut-ins on the island!
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