So that’s how these things go.

As I collected my thoughts ahead of my participation on a panel discussion on conflicting financial reports for Honolulu’s rail project, I got something of preview at the City Council’s Transit Committee.

I wrote in Inside Honolulu Wednesday that the afternoon hearing was billed as a dialogue between the city and the state regarding rail money, but that the state was a no-show.

In Thursday’s Star-Advertiser, Gene Park did a good job summarizing how the meeting, chaired by council neophyte Breene Harimoto, quickly went off the rails and devolved into a de facto panel on the merits of the project in general and potential alternatives.

The event was educational for me on a number of levels, particularly because I’ll be participating on a panel — with the same advertised focus — just days from now.

The League of Women Voters is hosting its own rail panel Saturday morning. The other panelists, according to the League’s press release, are:

  • Moses Haia, Director of the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation, who will focus on the issue of native Hawaiian burials
  • Jim Roumasset, University of Hawaii Economics Professor, who prepared an economic analysis of the rail Environmental Impact Statement
  • John Brizdle, Founder of Enoa Tours, innovator of Waikiki Trolley and author of “Streetcar Days of Honolulu”
  • Scott Wilson, Member of The American Institute of Architects

The League of Women Voters — which has repeatedly voiced its opposition to rail, including again on Wednesday — said it invited city officials to be part of the discussion. But just as the state declined the city’s invitation, the city turned down the league’s. Based on that and looking at my co-panelists, you might assume the event will have an anti-rail bent.

I can’t control or predict what others will say, but it should be made clear that Civil Beat has not taken a position on rail, and neither have I.

I was told my invitation came on the heels of Civil Beat’s December series comparing the conflicting financial estimates. We found optimism in the city’s model, but also found errors in the state consultant’s work. The conclusion was titled, “Honolulu Rail Report ‘Shoddy,’ ‘Biased’ — and Right?

The panel, which is free to the public, is set for Saturday, Jan. 15, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. in the Washington Middle School auditorium on King Street. I encourage you to come down and join the conversation.

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