Hanabusa voted new chair of HART’s board of directors

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Former Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa is the new chair of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART) board of directors.

Thursday’s board vote was unanimous, and comes one day after Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell announced Hanabusa’s reappointment to another full term on the board. Her current term was set to expire on June 30, and she will now serve an additional five-year term until June 30, 2021.

“Colleen Hanabusa already has proven her effectiveness on the HART Board of Directors by asking detailed questions and demanding accurate figures in light of the financial challenges facing the rail project,” he said Wednesday. “She raised red flags when she discovered that projections had increased beyond what had been presented to the people of Oahu. She’s a strong advocate for taxpayers who are funding this project.”

Hanabusa replaces former chair Don Horner, who resigned from the board last week amid controversy over spiraling costs and claims of mismanagement.

Colbert Matsumoto was sworn in Thursday to serve the remainder of Horner’s term until June 30, 2020.

With Hanabusa taking over as chair, we wanted to know what happens going forward.

Hanabusa said when she was asked to consider the role, she realized the board was at an “important juncture.”

“I am doing it because I feel the board needs to be very accountable to the public,” said Hanabusa, when addressing the board. “We can work together and do the public’s bidding. What this is all about is the public’s trust and moving project forward together.”

“The pattern of trying to shade things, the working style of not sharing information with the entire board, absolutely needs to stop from this point on,” said Caldwell.

Hanabusa immediately stepped into her new role during Thursday meeting. On the agenda: HART management’s response to the city auditor’s report.

The auditor recommended that management inform stakeholders and the public of significant changes in a timely manner, but HART argued it does through board meetings, community outreach, and social media.

Also on the agenda was the deadline for evaluating CEO Dan Grabauska’s performance. Honolulu City Council chairman Ernie Martin called for both Grabauskas and Horner to resign.

The board voted to extend the deadline to June 21, which is 60 days from Thursday.

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