June-July 1991 Home   Newsletters

August 1991

September 1991

Honolulu City Council Districts
Arguments for and against Limiting Terms of Council Members
Arguments for and against the Different Electoral Systems
Environment and Natural Resources
Conflict of Interest and Excusal from Voting
Testimony at Public Hearing
Uncharted Realm of Term Limitation (Jeffrey L. Katz)
Consensus Meeting
Golf Course Development Policies Workshop
Teamsters Vote Count

Testimony at Public Hearing

Up to now we have not commented on the many millions of dollars appropriated at various times for rail transit planning. Though our organization has long questioned the proposal and has formally opposed it since April 1990, we acknowledged that money had to be spent to plan, analyze alternatives, and arrive at the cost and ridership estimates needed to make an intelligent final go or no-go decision.

In addition to some $20 million spent on transit. studies up to and including the April 1990 Alternatives Analysis and Draft Environmental. Statement, another $13.7 million was approved last year for preliminary engineering and a final EIS. Tonight's hearing is on the City's request to be allowed to spend an additional $11 million in supplemental funds for preliminary engineering and the final EIS. We note that even with this, another $18 million of the Federal money already apportioned for this purpose would be carried over for future expenditures.

What have the citizens of Oahu gotten for these tens of millions of dollars? Last year the State asked the University of Hawaii to set up an evaluation of the April 1990, AA-DEIS, calling upon qualified local and mainland experts to comment on various aspects of the document -- the adequacy of the alternatives analyzed, the basis of its ridership and cost estimates, its claims of traffic and air pollution reduction, the adequacy and equity of its financing and revenue--producing measures, its public information program, etc.

We recommend that all interested citizens read the report. We urge them to read the eleven individual evaluations as submitted by the consultants, not the sanitized and homogenized summary report. Almost every aspect of the AA-DEIS received scathing criticism from one or more of the eleven experts consulted. Non-rail alternatives were inadequately analyzed or ignored entirely, ridership and cost estimates were questionable, neither traffic congestion nor air pollution would be reduced to any significant degree, the financing plan recommended was regressive and inequitable, the public had not been given enough information nor adequate opportunity for input, and so and so on.

The current uncertainties about going underground downtown and in Waikiki are only two of the many engineering problems which all the money that has been spent failed adequately to address.

We think that until a decision has been made as to which technology and which entrepreneur seem most advantageous and until a firm bid specifies costs, passenger fares to be charged, subsidies to be undertaken by the city, development concessions demanded, and many other aspects of the so-called winning proposal the City Council cannot possibly decide whether to go ahead with rail.

A year ago the Council mandated that an independent study be made of non-rail measures which could be undertaken now to serve as either alternatives to rail or to supplement rail if it were ultimately built. This study has barely been, allegedly due to lack of funds. We wonder however, how much has been spent on public relations to persuade citizens to support rail?

We feel the time has come to blow the whistle on expending more and more millions for faulty and irrelevant studies. By the end of the year, we are told, some definite decisions can be made and will be made on what might be built and by whom. The City can then come in with an accounting of planning and engineering monies spent so far, and for additional funds, if indeed they are needed, in terms of the situation at that time.

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