Editor’s Note: Four well-known opponents of rail published an opinion piece in the Aug. 21 edition of the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat has identified seven claims worthy of a closer look. This is one of those Fact Checks.

Some Native Hawaiians, including those on the Oahu Island Burial Council, have complained that the city’s phased approach to burial surveys will make it harder to handle ancient remains respectfully if the train project is already partially constructed.

Earlier this year, Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources Director William Aila said the phased approach was required by the federal government. In their Aug. 21 op-ed, four well-known opponents said Aila is incorrect.

Director William Aila approved such a segmented approach. Aila said he did so because the FTA “required” it. We don’t know if he was misled by others or just mistaken, but his statement is patently false.

Asked to explain his understanding of the conversations between Aila or the state of Hawaii and the FTA that would lead to a conclusion that the segmented archaeological analysis was not required, one of the piece’s authors, Cliff Slater, pointed to another Fact Check produced earlier this year by Civil Beat:

FACT CHECK — Aila: FTA Required Phased-In Approach For Rail

In that piece, a Federal Transit Administration official told Civil Beat’s Robert Brown that while many large-scale rail projects often use a phased approach, there was nothing set in stone insisting Honolulu pursue that particular avenue. According to the FTA, the City and County of Honolulu chose the phased approach — it was not required to.

That makes Aila’s statement false — as it was identified in that Fact Check. It also affirms rail opponents’ criticism of his statement as patently false. Their claim is true.


Here are the related Fact Checks:

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