‘Hold on to your pocketbooks!’ says city council chair after second subpoena to HART

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The head of the city council says this second subpoena further erodes public confidence on the rail project and could cost taxpayers even more money. 

Council member Ann Kobayashi says taxpayers should be worried. She’s afraid the federal money slated for rail could get delayed, or might never come this way.

“It’s really frightening,” said Kobayashi, the interim city council chairwoman.

She says one subpoena was bad enough, but getting the second one makes her feel even more uneasy that the Federal Transit Administration might never come through with the $744 million pledged to finish the project. 

And even if it does, it might take longer, which means HART will need to borrow more money to keep construction going.

“Everyone better hang on to their pocketbooks because I just can’t see if the federal money doesn’t come in and there’s more costs. That means more borrowing of money, more interest payments,” said Kobayashi.

HART CEO Andrew Robbins did say Thursday that he’s still confident that FTA will come through with the money.

“Because the FTA’s interest is aligned with our interest to keep the project moving, to maintain our budget and schedule going forward, and to reach our opening dates. So in that sense we’re completely aligned, so that’s what we’re gonna do,” said Robbins.

HART says it expects to get a $100 million installment from the FTA in July. 

Kobayashi says she is confident in the way the project is going with Andrew Robbins at the helm. But she says this federal investigation could also hurt the project’s future. 

HART is currently trying to attract private companies as partners to help complete the project.

“What company would now partner with us when we have two federal subpoenas? I mean I don’t think any company is gonna want to partner with us. Things look really dismal at this point. The federal government doesn’t just issue a subpoena unless there’s good cause,” said Kobayashi.

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