“I’m pro rail,” said Governor Linda Lingle several times yesterday at the Hawaii State Capitol Auditorium to the standing room only crowd, packed with construction union leaders and workers who will benefit from the rail. They along with members of the public came to hear the American Institute of Architects’ presentation of its light rail alternative to the City’s nearly $8 billion obtrusive heavy rail transit system.
“I’m pro rail,” said the panel of six from the American Institute of Architecture Honolulu chapter.
“I’m pro rail,” said the paid rail lobbyists, community organizers, City & County of Honolulu administrators and the union workers who packed the Hawaii State Capitol Auditorium.
For the record, again, I’m not pro rail; I’m pro Hawaii taxpayer and I oppose this monumental and corrupt waste of taxpayer money for a steel-on-steel train that won’t alleviate congestion, but will bankrupt us all.
Outside the Capitol on Beretania Street, the construction unions were rallying with city administrators and some Democrat elected officials. Standing with their signs saying “RAIL NOW”, they lined the street with heavy dump trucks and other equipment, and honked their horns. Inside, the pro rail people, wearing signs in support of the rail, grabbed most of the seats (even the reserved ones) in the auditorium and shouted at the Governor and panel members, and left many senior citizens standing outside throughout the 3-hour presentation.
Current Mayor-architect of the train to nowhere-and erstwhile gubernatorial candidate, Mufi Hannemann, was not in Honolulu; he was in Washington, D.C. pleading once again for federal support, taxpayer money and EIS approval for his train.
His City managing director-erstwhile Mayoral candidate-Kirk Caldwell, boycotted the meeting after blasting the Governor over the weekend for essentially lying about not receiving the EIS from the Mayor’s henchmen.
The Governor repeatedly stressed she has not received any EIS documentation from the City, and cannot determine whether or not she will approve the EIS as she is required to do, until she can review a copy.
The AIA panel presented a power point presentation, which basically blended parts of the current ugly and costly heavy rail proposal with a “harmonizing” light rail segment.
The result? They AIA claims savings of $1.8 billion, more local jobs, a more pleasing view plane and a shorter construction time frame. It all seemed reasonable.
The AIA panel members said they tried to make these suggestions to Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann during the past four years to no avail.
The majority of the hand-packed, Kool-Aid sipping rail audience would have none of it: “Rail Now!” they demanded. (Even though if the project started today, the first phase would take at least until 2019 to be completed).
The Governor was fair and even-handed-as she always is – in the Q&A portion of the program but she lost control to the pro rail crowd. They didn’t like the Governor, didn’t like the AIA-especially panelist Philip Craig, “who doesn’t even live here,” (let’s make sure we always use the outsider Mainlander card in any issue discussion) and they don’t want any alternatives or changes. Period.
Where were the pro-taxpayer, anti-government rail people? We were there