More of Mufi’s Rail Deceptions

Rick Hamada
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Wednesday - November 19, 2008
City Councilman Romy Cachola is upset that he was deceived about the rail project.

Well, Romy, welcome to the club.

Mayor Mufi Hannemann shook the hands of Cachola and Salt Lake representatives in promising the rail route would run along Salt Lake Boulevard. He needed Cachola’s vote, and the rail re-route from the airport to his district raised allegations of political gladhanding. It clearly was a political maneuver that became the calling card of the entire project.

Just as the decision to award the route to Salt Lake was a little smelly, the ballots weren’t even dry when the mayor, and a select group of councilmembers, flipped Romy and Salt Lake the bird and re-re-routed the rail back to the airport.

I mean, really, is anybody surprised?

Romy made a backdoor deal and got hit in the okole when it was slammed shut by the mayor. As they say, if you are going to play in the mud, you’re going to get dirty. Cachola put the mayor on the line with threats of pulling his vote, and Mufi let Cachola think that he got rail for Salt Lake Boulevard.

I don’t think there was one fleeting moment when the mayor knew if rail got the vote that he would honor his agreement.

Councilman Cachola is just one in a long line of those who feel betrayed by the rail process. First and foremost, the whole propagandistic indoctrination of the people with ad nauseum pro-rail commercials ranks as one of the most blatant and outrageous voter-manipulation episodes ever seen in Hawaii. The combination of taxpayer money and special interest money was a staggering amount.

There was a paucity of fairness to begin with regarding this project, but the heavy-handed promotion of the project paid for with your tax dollars remains a bad taste in the mouth of many. Imagine a scoop of Limburger cheese with kim chee on a moldy piece of bread. That combination would be more digestible.

I find it interesting that some of the more vocal critics of the rail project have thrown their support behind the rail project. The rationale is, “The voters have spoken.” Yes, vote for rail passed. But it was less than fair, and using taxpayer money on marketing remains outrageous. There is a 45-day period to analyze and debate the contents of the draft environmental impact statement. This is the time to demand an equitable assessment of the details. There should be a petition to the Federal Transit Authority for precise oversight of the public process to ensure

fairness and equality. Save the federal involvement, I am not confident that the discussion of the DEIS will be above reproach.

All the reasons for opposing this project exist. The route, the cost, the impact and the alleviation of congested roadways still remain salient and relevant issues.

I believe this multi-billion dollar project is a wonderful vehicle to enrich a few at the expense of the many. This is a make-work project to keep a select group of

residents employed while being subsidized by their neighbors. This is not an economic stimulus project. It is a governmental redistribution of wealth project.

I understand the polls have spoken. I respect the process. But I don’t think the process was respectful to us. The DEIS process provides for additional public input. The ramifications of this project demand precise public discussion without flagrant favoritism from either side. The public deserves the opportunity to participate in this ongoing process and reserves the right to act accordingly if revelations about the project compels them back to the polls. Remember, there are tens of thousands of signatures on the Stop Rail Now ballot that could be expanded, thereby placing the question of rail on the 2010 ballot.

The rail project is not a done deal.

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