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Kobayashi rails against city for timing of report


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POSTED: Monday, November 03, 2008

Mayoral candidate and City Councilmember Ann Kobayashi yesterday accused the city of hoodwinking taxpayers and said she was “;outraged”; by the city's handling of the draft environmental impact statement for the city's proposed rail system.

Kobayashi accused the administration of waiting until thousands of residents had already voted to release the report, adding that she didn't know why the administration waited.

The city posted the draft EIS online yesterday morning, following the release of the executive summary last week. By yesterday, about 105,000 residents had already voted absentee, according to the city.

“;This information was purposely withheld,”; Kobayashi said at her campaign headquarters yesterday. “;I'm just outraged that our government is lying to the people. This is a cover-up.”;

Kobayashi said she had not even thought about her mayoral campaign before reproving the current administration.

The draft EIS revealed how the administration “;fooled”; and “;lied”; to the public to gain support for the $5 billion project by showing only the “;glamorous side”; of the rail and not those areas that would to be lost to the project, she said.

More than 80 properties, including a church, homes and small businesses would be displaced by the rail's construction.

Kobayashi also said the city's report still doesn't release the full cost of the project because it's reporting only on the minimal operating segment.

“;When you learn the truth, it is not a glamorous project, it is not a good project. It's going to hurt so many people,”; she said.

City spokesman Bill Brennan called Kobayashi's accusations “;preposterous.”;

“;What Ann is trying to do is deflect attention from the fact that the draft EIS confirms what was said before”; through public meetings, he said. “;She's trying to deflect attention from the great news that is the EIS with some scare tactics so that some people might consider voting against it.”;

He said the report's release was delayed from Wednesday so that the city could conform with state EIS laws and that the city produced the report quickly so the public could view it before voting.

Linda Smith, Gov. Linda Lingle's senior policy adviser, joined Kobayashi at her press conference and disputed the assertion that nearly $1 billion in federal funding will be available for the project.

A former official of the federal Department of Transportation, Smith said the city hasn't even turned in a formal application for the federal money, adding that the process takes two to four years once submitted.

“;To say that there will be federal funds available or assured at this junction at a minimum appears ... as very premature and conceivably even misleading,”; she said.

Meanwhile, the release of the draft EIS rallied rail supporters at the Vote Yes 4 Rail Now headquarters.

John Vidal, a 60-year-old carpenter, joined about 30 volunteers at the headquarters before heading out to canvass for rail votes in Mililani.

“;We need the rail,”; the Waipahu resident said.

Vote Yes Campaign Manager Justin Fanslau said that the release of the EIS was the best thing that could happen to the pro-rail campaign.

He said document shows rail will create jobs, reduce traffic congestion and improve the environment and residents' quality of life.

“;It proves the opposition wrong and it proves everything you've been saying door to door true,”; he told the volunteers.

Dennis Callan, co-chair of the Stop Rail Now campaign, said in an e-mailed statement that the draft EIS uses “;distorted, dishonest numbers designed to support their rail scheme.”;

Residents may decide the fate of the rail system when they vote on a rail question tomorrow on whether the city should support a “;steel wheel on steel rail transit system.”;