Today’s Star-Advertiser editorial makes the newspaper’s position clear (“Cayetano’s rail tactics a disservice“).
The newspaper has staked out a decidedly pro-rail position, while attacking those critical of rail. Period.
Today’s editorial attacks former governor and current mayoral candidate, Ben Cayetano, for a variety of supposed offenses, including “cherry-picking through old communications” and muddying public understanding of the issues.
From the editorial:
In a 2009 email, Joseph Ossi, an FTA environmental protection specialist, noted that the Environmental Protection Agency had asked why light rail and an improved bus system weren’t among the alternatives considered in the city’s environmental impact statement.
City consultants did weigh these options, however. In the course of examining alternatives in 2006, extensive public “scoping” meetings were held. An enhanced bus system was among the alternatives examined, along with fixed-guideway alternatives that included light rail.
Whether or not all the alternatives that already were rejected also needed to be in the EIS is among the issues in the lawsuit, so officials for the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation have declined comment on that point.
But in selectively raising it, Cayetano fell short of presenting adequate context. This certainly left many with the wrong impression that alternatives had not been considered, or the reasons why they were rejected. [emphasis added]
Okay. These is an editorial, so holding it to a news standard may be unfair. But when the editorial calls out Cayetano for supposedly not “informing people responsibly,” turnabout is fair play.
So, Star-Advertiser editorial writers, exactly where in the huge library of reports did the city’s consultants evaluate the light rail alternative?
The S-A is certainly not the first to flatly assert that light rail was studied. But, as far as I can tell, they are wrong.
I’ve written about my search for the missing light rail alternative several times over the past couple of years (“What happened to the light rail alternative to Honolulu’s transit plan?“March 8th, 2010; “Round and round we go in search of the missing light rail alternative“, November 24th, 2011; and “What happened to the light rail alternative (redux)?“, November 21st, 2011).
I’ve heard lots of bluster in response, much of the, “harumph, harumph, of course it was studied, etc, etc.” variety. But, so far, no one has been able to cite page and verse where this alternative was examined and found wanting.
The Star-Advertiser says the “scoping” process did include light rail. To repeat:
An enhanced bus system was among the alternatives examined, along with fixed-guideway alternatives that included light rail.
Talk about cherry picking!
What the S-A doesn’t tell readers is that the scoping studies actually identified light rail as a viable alternative that needed to be studied in the EIS along with other “fixed guideway” options.
And that never happened, despite the scoping study recommendation. Light rail was allowed to just disappear without comment, and without serious study.
If I’m wrong about this, then just send me the volume/page references. I would be most interested in reading why light rail would have been rejected, and to evaluate the evidence. I’ll be glad to apologize and share the updated information with readers here.
If, however, volume/page references can’t be found for any real study of the light rail alternative that resulted in its rejection, will the S-A be willing to recant publicly?
I know how I would bet on that last point.