Thursday, June 30, 2011

Bombardier Seeks Hearing on Ansaldo Contract; Challenges Await HART as It Readies ‘Stand Up’

Borrowing military jargon for the formal activation of a unit, the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART) will stand up tomorrow, Day 1 in a new era of transportation planning, construction and operation.

The City’s Rapid Transit Division will complete its transfer tomorrow from the Department of Transportation Services to HART. Nine board members will meet officially for the first time to consider a number of issues requiring board action (see agenda, below).

Voters approved HART’s creation in November’s election by a margin of 64 to 29 percent. Some observers, including the City Administration, believe the majority thought they were creating a semi-autonomous agency that would operate more or less independent of control by the Administration and City Council.

Not completely independent, of course, since the Charter amendment included provisions for appointments to HART’s board of directors by those two branches of government, as well as Council approval of certain HART spending.

However, the Council inserted language into legislation to fund HART’s budgets for the fiscal year beginning tomorrow that gives the Council final approval authority over all HART spending, including its capital budget and the billions of dollars that will be spent to build the Honolulu rail project.

Mayor Peter Carlisle vetoed the budget bills because of the new language, and on Monday, the Council voted unanimously to override the vetoes. Carlisle said he would reserve a final decision on whether to file a lawsuit over the issue until after HART’s board has an opportunity to consider its alternatives. That opportunity arrives tomorrow when the board will consider adoption of HART’s FY2012 operating and capital budgets.

Bombardier Acts

Meanwhile, Bombardier Transportation has requested a hearing with the State Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs over the awarding of Honolulu rail contracts to Ansaldo Honolulu. The City last week rejected protests by Bombardier and Sumitomo Corporation of Ansaldo’s winning bid. (July 1 Update: Sumitomo Corporation also has requested a hearing with the DCCA.)

Here’s the complete agenda for the HART board’s inaugural July 1 meeting, which will begin at 8 am in the Mission Memorial Annex Conference Room just diamondhead of City Hall:

I.   Swearing in of Board Members
II.  Call to Order by Chair Pro Tem
III. Opening Remarks by Board Members
IV. Public Testimony
V.  Items Requiring Board Action
     a. Adoption of Board Rules and Operating Procedures
     b. Election of Board Officers
         i. Chair
        ii. Vice Chair
     c. Appointment of Executive Director
         i. Selection Process for a Permanent Executive Director
        ii. Appointment of an Interim Executive Director
     d. Adoption of HART Financial Policies
         i. Initiation of Independent Financial Audit
     e. Adoption of HART Procurement Policy
     f. Adoption of HART Ethics Policy
     g. Adoption of HART Transparency Policy
     h. Adoption of FY2012 Operating and Capital Budgets
         i. Public Hearing
        ii. Decision-making
VI. Items for Discussion
     a. FY2012 Business Plan – Draft Business Strategy
     b. Selection of the 9th Voting Board Member
     c. Setting the Board Meeting Schedule
VII. Adjournment

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