Thursday, June 23, 2011

Editorial: ‘Let HART Do its Work’

Today’s Star-Advertiser with its editorial advising the City Council to let go of its control issues hit carports, sidewalks and vending machines a few hours before today’s Big Projects panel discussion at the Plaza Club. More on that below.

The editorial reaches a logical conclusion: Voters want the Honolulu rail project managed without interference from the Council and Administration – i.e., without interference from politicians.

Voters overwhelmingly approved creation of a semi-autonomous agency, the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation, last November after a campaign built around removing rail from quixotic political influence.

The largest project in Hawaii’s history needs stability, the editorial notes, not over-grasping control by politicians who can’t or won’t recognize the will of the people in numerous elections (all anti-rail candidates lost last Fall) and polls (QMark’s May survey being the most recent).

Today’s editorial says in part:

“The whole reason for taking control of the dedicated transit fund away from a political body is to keep decisions in the hands of those not seeking campaign contributions and to ensure that they’re based on professional reasoning, not politics.This model has worked well for entities such as the Honolulu Board of Water Supply and for other mass-transit jurisdictions around the country.”

The issue appears headed for the courts unless the Administration and Council can find some common ground that meets the Mayor’s requirement for HART to have control over its own budgets.

What’s with Big Projects?

Today’s luncheon panel discussion is sponsored by the Hawaii Venture Capital Association and ThinkTech Hawaii and is billed as “a close examination of what it is about Big Projects that makes them so problematic in Hawaii.

We have a few ideas about that and will get into them after the event, which we’ll attend, but we’re thinking already that stacking the deck doesn’t contribute to reasoned outcomes.

Moderating the discussion will be Tom Coffman, who was a panelist at the League of Women Voters’ anti-rail event two months ago, and former Governor Ben Cayetano, a plaintiff in a lawsuit intended to block Honolulu rail.

By eliminating balance in this event, the sponsors couldn’t have been clearer about what they think of the Honolulu rail project.

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