Monday, May 23, 2011

Editorial: Let Honolulu Rail Authority Do its Job

For those not paying close attention to the ins and outs of the Honolulu rail project, it’s time to catch up. The hot issue this month is whether the City Council will exert its control over the activities of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART) or allow it to become a relatively independent body, operating in the same fashion as the Board of Water Supply.

Voters overwhelmingly (63 percent) approved an amendment to the City Charter in November to create a semi-autonomous HART that, it was said, would run Honolulu’s transit program independent of political influence.

HART’s board already has been named – three members by the Mayor, three by the Council, with the remaining three being the occupants of transportation and planning positions at the city and state; a 10th member will be chosen by the rest of the board.

The board would run the Honolulu rail project, including its construction budgets, without being directly under the thumb of either the city administration or Council – that’s how the amendment was advertised.

But some Council members say the amendment did not relieve the Council of its budgetary oversight responsibilities for HART, and measures are moving through the Council that would give it power over the issuance of revenue bonds to provide temporary funding for portions of the rail project’s construction.

Today’s Honolulu Star-Advertiser editorial argues that the Council’s “nervousness” over HART might be understandable but could delay rail even more than it already has been. “Voters have made the decision for rail and have created HART to expeditiously bring it to fruition,” says the editorial.

The proposal before the Council will be up for third and final reading on June 3.

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