Tuesday, June 28, 2011

City Council Still Holds Cards on HART Spending

WANTED: Legal Negotiator. Primary responsibilities: to be determined. Experience required: resolution of high-visibility stand-offs and stalemates. Recruitment bonus: 10 points for candidates with proven mat skills.
This imaginary posting for an imaginary job opening at the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART) might well be pertinent before long. The City Council yesterday unanimously overrode Mayor Peter Carlisle’s vetoes of bills giving the Council ultimate authority over HART’s operating and maintenance and construction spending.

The Mayor says that rather than file a lawsuit over the Council’s actions, which he says violate the City Charter, he’ll let the HART board of directors decide what it wants to do about the issue.

“I’m going to sit there and see what HART does,” Carlisle said in a press conference. “Then I will evaluate what I do after all of those cards have played out. Let’s see what they do first and then see whether it’s appropriate for me to defer to them or to look towards other legal avenues.”

Voters in November approved an amendment to the City Charter to create semi-autonomous HART. The Carlisle administration says the intent was to insulate the Honolulu rail project from politics and politicians, but the Council disagrees and inserted language into HART’s budget bills that gives the Council final approval over HART spending.

HART officially becomes an agency of the City and County of Honolulu on July 1, and HART's budgets are on the agenda of the board’s first meeting on Friday.

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