Monday, June 27, 2011

Big Week for Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transit

11:45 am Update: The City Council overrode Mayor Carlisle's vetoes of HART's capital and O&M budgets this morning. The vote was 9-0 on both measures. The Mayor will hold a news conference soon; we will update Yes2Rail when that happens.
4 pm Update: According to Civil Beat, Mayor Carlisle will leave it to HART to decide what to do about the Council's provision that it authorize all HART spending, rather than take the issue to court at this time.

The new Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART) springs to life on Friday. Under normal circumstances, that would be the highlight of just about any week or month – but not this week.

The City Council has called a special meeting for today for override votes on Mayor Peter Carlisle’s vetoes of the Council-approved HART budget bills, which included wording that would give the Council approval over HART spending.

That wasn’t the voters’ intent, Carlisle said in his veto message, when they overwhelmingly endorsed a City Charter amendment creating semi-autonomous HART last November. The Star-Advertiser carried the Mayor’s commentary yesterday in which he argued that the Council’s attempt to control HART spending violates both the will of the electorate and the City Charter.

“The new HART board takes over the transit project on July 1, this coming Friday,” Carlisle wrote. “Allmembers have given every indication that they take very seriously their fiduciary duty to build and operate the rail transit system openly, honestly and responsively to the people. Therefore, for these reasons, the Council should heed the voice of the people and keep the politics out of HART.”

The Council’s special meeting is scheduled for 10 am (HST) to take action on all the vetoed budget bills: “Pass Final Reading, the Mayor’s Veto to the Contrary Notwithstanding.”

Overriding the vetoes would set the stage for lawsuits on the issue, which both sides of the dispute have vowed to pursue unless an acceptable compromise can be achieved short of the court room.

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