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Hey, Peter, my living in a so-called “mansion” on the top of a hill didn’t matter to you when I supported you for Mayor, stumped and gave speeches for you, contributed personally and raised money for you. Like many who supported you back then, I knew you favored rail but I asked and you promised to consider seriously all sides of the rail issue — and, if you decided to go ahead with rail — then to do it right. That was all that was asked of you.
Shortly, after you got elected, you arrogantly dismissed as “politically motivated” a $350,000 state study paid for by taxpayers and commissioned by Governor Lingle that concluded the City’s rail project may cost as much as $7 billion rather than $5.3 billion — once again shooting the messenger rather than analyzing the message. You ignored a cost overrun probabilities study — by the Federal Transit Administration itself — which concluded the probability that the City’s rail would cost as much as $7 billion was far greater than the City’s estimated $5.3 billion.
And while dismissing these studies — you accepted without question the pro-rail hype spoon-fed to you and the public by Wayne Yoshioka and his former employer Parsons Brinkerhoff which has already received more than $100 million in contracts from the City and stands to make another $300-400 million if rail is ever built.
Your response to criticisms by rail opponents has been “we’ve heard it before” or words to that effect — an easy response which doesn’t require much thinking. And you now dismiss us (Walter Heen, Randy Roth, Cliff Slater and me) as the “Gang of Four” apparently parroting the script written for you by one of the ten public relations firms the City has hired to promote rail.
Frankly, I doubt you’ve “heard it before.” During your campaign, I cringed anxiously as your opponent Kirk Caldwell picked you apart during the televised debates and exposed how little you knew about City issues and the rail project — causing you to nearly blow a 30 point lead. Another week and you probably would have lost. You knew little about rail then and, sadly, you chose to learn about only one side now.
Your public relations people try to marginalize Cliff Slater as a “naysayer” but I doubt if you, Yoshioka, or anyone from your administration or Parsons Brinkerhoff would dare to debate him publicly on the rail issue. You describe Randy Roth, one of our so-called “Gang of Four” as a “true hero” because of his work on “Broken Trust.” I agree with you — but hey why did you ignore Walter Heen, Randy’s co-author of Broken Trust, a respected Native Hawaiian leader, former state and federal judge and US Attorney? And, since you brought it up, Heen’s and Roth’s “Broken Trust” led me as governor to order Attorney General Marjorie Bronster to conduct the investigation that eventually reformed the Bishop Estate forever.
It takes strong character for any advocate to change his or her mind, especially on hot issues. But it happens. In 2003, former Governor Lingle was the first elected governor to announce she was pro-rail but later changed her mind when she realized what THIS RAIL would cost and look like. And former ardent pro-railers like Pacific Business News and Star Advertiser columnist Cynthia Oi have reversed their positions and now oppose rail. Not any or all rail — just THIS RAIL .
I don’t expect you to take our criticism at face value — I suggest you try Google and other online sources. You’ll discover a world of information about rail, its history, its pluses and minuses and perhaps why no city the size of Honolulu’s metropolitan area has EVER built the kind of costly, elevated, steel wheel, heavy rail being proposed by you and the City. In fact, the last city to build such a system is San Juan, Puerto Rico which has a population of 2.6 million or 2.5 times Oahu’s 900,000. That project — Tren Urbano — was built by Parsons Brinkerhoff and experienced a 113% cost overrun, realized only 27% of the forecasted ridership — and resulted in a 5.5% tax increase.
Finally, take a look at the rendering drawn to scale by architects from the Hawaii Chapter of the American Institute of Architects who usually favor rail — but not THIS RAIL — in particular the rendering of the massive rail station at the intersection of Bishop Street and Nimitz highway which at six stories high will tower over the historic five story Dillingham Building located only three car lanes away and ask yourself — is this the legacy you want to leave to your children, your grandchildren and future generations?
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