Rail Ads Stir Questions of City's Use of Tax Dollars

HONOLULU (KHNL) - There is some controversy brewing over city ads promoting rail on Oahu.

Did you know that you as a taxpayer are footing the bill for them?

Critics say taxpayer dollars should not be used to promote one-sided controversial political issues. And if they are, critics say the public should know about it.

Radio ads promoting the controversial steel on steel rail system has Council Member Charles Djou questioning why there is no wording in the commercials telling the public that taxpayers are paying for them.

"I think that it's extremely disappointing that the city has decided to use the public's money to weigh in on a controversial political issue and using the taxpayer money to do that," said Djou.

Djou has crafted a bill that would require the city to attach a disclosure for city-funded newspaper, radio or TV ads. It's a move anti-rail protesters applaud.

"The city should not be involved in the kind of propaganda they're putting on. They should be informing the public, the information they pass out should be balanced. There is no excuse," said Cliff Slater, an anti-rail protester.

Stop Rail Now says it funds all of its anti-rail material using private donations. The group says the city should do the same. Mayor Mufi Hanneman's adminisration was not available on Tuesday for comment.

The Honolulu City Council will vote on the bill on Wednesday. Djou says he is not against promoting steel on steel technology. He says the bill is more about making sure taxpayers know what city ads they're paying for, regardless of the issue.