BY CLIFF SLATER – The City’s Thursday news release that said U.S. District Judge Wallace Tashima’s ruling on our lawsuit challenging the Environmental Impact Statement for the city’s elevated steel on steel rail project is a “significant” is totally overblown.
What is “significant” is that our most important claims that, a) the City/FTA did not properly evaluate transportation alternatives under either Section 4(f) or NEPA, and, b) our most important sites Chinatown, Aloha Tower, Dillingham Building, Native Hawaiian burials, etc., all remain in play.
The fact that the city won on peripheral sites such as the Hawai‘i Employers Council building and the Makalapa Navy Housing Historic District, has little impact on our core claim, to wit, the City/FTA did not rigorously study transportation alternatives that avoid severely impacting the city’s downtown historic waterfront area.
We now know what we may expect from Daniel Grabauskas, the new Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation CEO; we will not be able to tell the difference between him and his predecessors Toru Hamayasu or Wayne Yoshioka. We can see that in what HART issued to City employees this week, which we deal with below.
HART issues new Q&A to City employees and to post on its website:
HART’s new “Internal Q&A (updated May 8, 2012)” contains some of the grossest misrepresentations to the public about rail that we have seen yet. Grabauskas met yet outdo Wayne Yoshioka, City Transportation Director, whose outright lies we have documented.
Grabauskas writes in the Q&A that rail “will take 40,000 vehicle trips of our congested roads.” This is a lie of omission in that he fails to tell taxpayers that the 40,000 reduction is in the face of a 520,000 increase. It only reduces the increase to 480,000. In round numbers it means there will be a 500,000 increase in automobile trips whether we build rail or not. To not reveal that fact in an outreach document to taxpayers is a clear lie of omission.
Grabauskas also writes, “Finmeccanica, the parent company of AnsaldoBreda [that won the bid to build the Honolulu trains] remains financially solid.”
As University of Hawaii Engineering Professor Panos Prevedouros explains, two facts that speak to the quality of info disseminated by HART are:
(1)Finmeccanica has been downgraded to a low status: Moody’s downgrades Finmeccanica to Baa2 and
(2) When Ansaldo was awarded the contract Finmeccanica traded at over 8 euro. Throughout 2012 it’s been trading under 4 euro and recent stock price is near 2.5 euro.”
This city document misleads the voters on many issues including energy use, about communities our size with rail, and bus use. We have hoped for something different from Grabauskas. City transit officials worked very hard over the years to earn our mistrust, now Daniel Grabauskas obviously does not want to let the side down.