Civil Beat's News Coverage of Rail is Substandard

A recent Civil Beat series of articles, “Rail At The Airport: Investigation In 3 Parts,” set a new low mark in Civil Beat’s substandard coverage of rail issues.

Civil Beat states the obvious in Part I: “Rail planners initially put the line too close to the airport and ultimately had to move it.” The bottom line in Part II is equally obvious: “ultimately the responsibility for ensuring compliance with federal guidelines belongs to the city, and by extension, its consultants.” In Part III, Civil Beat concedes the possibility that someone made a “mistake” (the scare quotes are Civil Beat’s, not ours), but Civil Beat assures readers that the cost of fixing it is immaterial.1

We have come to expect Civil Beat to carry water for the city on rail issues, but this is the first time Civil Beat has argued that the city has been too hard on itself: “even the city [has] overstated the financial consequences [of the alleged mistake].”

Nowhere in its 4,765-word series does Civil Beat address the conflict of interests involving Parsons Brinckerhoff, InfraConsult and Yoshioka, or express concern that the city has flatly refused to investigate the airport-routing misstep.

Civil Beat claims to have conducted its own investigation, but that included asking potentially liable parties whether they made a mistake.

Civil Beat also claims we said that Parsons Brinckerhoff and InfraConsult should bear the cost of fixing the mistake, which isn’t true. Here’s what we wrote: “If the project manager or any other consultant is found to have been negligent, that party or parties — rather than Honolulu taxpayers — should be held accountable for the financial consequences of their negligence.”

Finally, Civil Beat claims that we attributed Yoshioka’s failure to identify a responsible party to close relationships with two of the city's main rail contractors. If Civil Beat had simply linked to our one-page public statement2 or quoted what we actually said, readers would see for themselves that we made no such claim.

Civil Beat’s coverage of rail and of our statements about rail has consistently been biased and substandard. The series on the airport-routing problem is the final straw for us. We have come to view Civil Beat as little more than an over-priced blog with a pro-rail hidden agenda.


About the authors: Ben Cayetano, Walter Heen, Randall Roth and Cliff Slater have filed a federal lawsuit against Honolulu's rail project.

DISCUSSION: What do you think about the charges against Civil Beat made by rail critics? Join the conversation below.


  1. “While the opponents may be correct that the contractor should have caught the problem with the alignment much earlier and should have to pay for the error, the actual cost of what opponents describe as a ‘mistake’ on the $5 billion project is not material.”  

  2.  

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