Saturday, July 12, 2008


Paid to blog for rail

by Larry Geller

I am still a great fan of Doug Carlson’s writing and his work, but I didn’t know he was hired to support the rail effort when he let me know about his new blog. A number of people emailed or spoke to me about my earlier post, based on an article that appeared on the web.

The original article is still there, but I added this update to the beginning:

I learned after I posted this that Doug is being paid to blog on this subject. He did not disclose that in his email to me, I assumed this latest website was just another interest of his. In fact, there is a disclosure on his blog, but I challenge you to find it.

Like much of the rest of the PR on the subject of rail for Honolulu, on both sides, the sources of funding and the special interests pushing one side or the other are shadowy subjects. We, the taxpayers, are being used. It’s not the right way to plan our communities.

They are paying newspapers and bloggers to propagandize us the same way they convince us to buy pizza, bottled water, SUVs, or bad insurance plans.

Should we decide on a transit system based on who pays for the most ads or hires experts to blog to us?


Here is my complete email to Larry Geller on this subject, down to the last .com:

I will neither confirm nor deny those statements because like most people, Larry, I reserve the right to withhold what my financial/income circumstances are. If someone digs into public records and finds what’s what, so be it. Read my first post to the blog and you’ll see that I did a “FULL DISCLOSURE” of my involvement with the City and PB. I have nothing to hide and am more than a little pleased to have been asked personally by the Mayor to join his outreach team because he apparently feels I’m a good communicator who’s passionate about the subject. I must have given 15 speeches to Rotary clubs and companies since November supporting the project, plus numerous commentaries, letters and most recently blog posts.

If you Google me and words that narrow the search to Honolulu and transit, you’ll find many columns, commentaries and letters I wrote to the papers here throughout the ‘90s and into this decade in support of mass transit during a prolonged period when I had no client in this realm. I’ve championed the subject, so if someone wants to make a deal out of my contract with PB, let them. I have nothing to be reclusive about in that regard, because I banged away for years without a client in support of fixed guideway grade separated transit.

Check out my July 6th post in which I made a distinction between the Big Tent and Sideshow arguments about rail transit. What people are being paid to support and communicate about the project is pure Sideshow, and that’s where your tipsters are hanging out — in the Sideshow carnival. The Big Tent issue is traffic avoidance. Only grade separated transit lets the commuter avoid traffic, a fact many rail opponents refuse to acknowledge, understand or appreciate, so they’re Carnival Sideshow attendees. Hanging out in the Big Tent is too uncomfortable for them, so they rally around the Carnie barkers — you know who I mean.

If you want to quote everything above in your blog, Larry, please do. And while you’re at it, please direct your readers to today’s post in which I have some things to say about Lenny Klompus’s absurd explanation of the Governor’s intent to sign the anti-petition. What a bunch of.....______.

Aloha, Doug
-- — Say Yes to the Honolulu Rail System

So what?

Randal O'Toole and Wendell Cox make fair livings, paid by so-called "think tanks" to bash transit, New Urbanism, and other things opposed by their paymasters.

I have no problem with someone getting paid to blog. Best if it's clear, though, that the former neutral reporter and interested citizen is now a paid partisan. At least that's my view.

I really have to thank you, Larry, for jogging me into being obnoxiously obvious about my "full disclosure" in a postscript to the July 11 post, and I'll be posting new links tomorrow to what I said to counter Cliff Slater's propaganda earlier this decade.

Don't forget his years as Hawaiian Electric spokesman

Don’t let this corporate spinmeister Carlson talk down to you Larry. Doug’s false framing of the “Big Tent vs. Sideshow” model is the kind of corporate hype that’s allowed the administration’s corrupt revolving-door of THIS rail system to be perpetuated.

That’s not side show it’s the most central thing in all of this, as you’ve pointed out Larry. The real model for public debate is Paid Corporate Shills and Spinners vs. Dedicate Public Interest Researchers and Journalists who point out the absurd lack of planning and the boondoggle that Doug hides but claims to fully disclose.

It’s about lack of planning and turning all the good of public transit into a development boondoggle in a classic example of “dumb growth”. I can’t say it any better than you have over the last month Larry.

Doug uses the same trash-talk as what he calls the “side show” people – who are just as bad or worse- by ignoring the corruption and lack of planning and seeking to paint anyone who opposes how the rail system is being implemented as anti mass transit and anti-people, pro-pollution and oil companies blah blah. Same kind of crap he perfected at the electric company.

Most people fall for your scam Doug- even Larry. Not me- I’m not an idiot. I know bad planning and boondoggles when I see them. Mentioning your paid status once the first day- where no one is likely to see it- is a typical methodology of any corporate shill. You need a big box on the right hand column of your web site saying “This web site is paid for by” and list your finding sources. but of course that would defeat the purpose of your blog because your credibility would plummet. No wonder you say you would find that obnoxious.

Don’t BS the BSer Doug. I’ve done paid PR. and I know damn well how many showers I need to take when doing it. Money does change everything and that’s the main event, not a side show as you’d like people to believe. But obviously you can smell that smell if you worked talking out of both sides of your mouth for HECO for 10 years.

What's the big deal here? Like a lot of folks, i've been following the rail debate in the Honolulu blogsphere and Carlson disclosed who he's working for (ie the city administration) soon after he set up his blogspot.

The man writes for a living and in this instance his medium is blogs. No different than if he authored an advertorial for a magazine or scripted a radio ad.

When I'm reading a blog I like to know if it's the author's personal passion, or if he's getting paid to write it, and if so, by whom. It just helps me sort out the information a little better when I know it's full source.

I would think the little Say Yes to Rail! blurb on the upper right of Doug's new blog would be a good place for him to mention that this project is financed by the City and County of Honolulu (or whomever). That way everyone can easily see it, and if they miss a post, they don't miss the disclaimer.

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