HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transit (HART) board has hired a new consultant, someone who once worked closely on the project.
The contract went to Colleen Hanabusa — the former chairwoman of the board.
HART’s interim CEO says the board initiated the role and that Hanabusa was the only one who applied. The Request For Proposal was specific to someone having specific state, local, federal and attorney experience. Hanabusa will be paid $12,000 a month for 18 months, with the option to extend every year for the next five years.
Kahikina says funding for Hanabusa’s position is not connected to the recent layoffs at HART. Kahikina says she has cut 48 out of 112 City employees plus several layers of consultants, saving an estimated $20 million to $30 million per year.
Hanabusa released the following statement to KHON2:
“I am in the unique position of being at HART’s milestones, such as having been in the Legislature when the first bill to authorize the City and Counties to implement the .5 GET was passed; in Congress and ceremonially signed the FFGA, 2 days after the death of Senator Inouye; on HART when the City Council authorized the .5 GET extension of 5 years; and in Congress and testified before the State Legislature for Act 1 of 2007.
“My goals and objectives are to see this, the largest CIP project in the history of this State, successfully completed for what it represents…This consultancy affords me the opportunity to assist this project and fulfill this dream,” Hanabusa said.
“The consultant’s job is to work on the quorum issue for the board, the voting issue for the board and possibly working with the leg to see if we can extend the GET and TAT. So this consultant has unique experience, she wrote Act 1 so she has unique experience in dealing with this. I do believe we need help.”Lori Kahikina, Honolulu Autority for Rapid Transit interim CEO
Natalie Iwasa, a HART board member, commented in an individual capacity:
“The contract is for services related to finding funding to plug the current $3.6 billion funding shortfall, assisting with the board’s quorum requirements and other lobbying services. The list of qualifications was narrow, and Ms. Hanabusa was the only bidder. Given the history of this project, it feeds the belief that people can’t trust HART. I encourage anyone who has concerns about this contract to make their opinions known by testifying on the HART budgets at city council meetings and future HART board meetings.”Natalie Iwasa, Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transit board member