Sunday, November 29, 2015         


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Rail authority lacks members with know-how in mass transit

By Gene Park


Think you're qualified to be on the rail board? At this point you probably are.

The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation is missing two key components: a permanent executive director and a ninth voting member.

The current eight members will be spearheading efforts in seeking both, under the watchful eye of the public, the city administration and the City Council.

The more immediate position to be filled is the ninth voting member, expected to be picked within a few months. The board is soliciting applications through Just submit a cover letter and résumé.

Qualifications? Well, the charter amendment that created the board doesn't say much on qualifications, and the website doesn't outline any, either.

That's why I find it a little comforting that City Councilman Stanley Chang plans to introduce a resolution to urge the rail board to hire "in a manner that earns the public's trust and confidence."

"I think over the years there have been a number of decisions and moves made that have seriously eroded public trust and confidence," Chang says. "When it comes to a project of this scale and level of public interest, without public trust and confidence it will fail."

Chang's resolution calls for the following:

» Technical qualifications, standards and outstanding character traits established by the board for the appointment and future appointments.

» To exclude all current city employees or officers, or anyone who has been an employee, officer, consultant or contractor with the city in the past two years.

» Ensuring the candidates are free from conflicts of interest and that they have "infallible integrity and who commands the public trust."

How about someone with transportation-related experience? After all, the current board consists of folks from the legal, construction, banking and finance fields. The only members with transit experience are the Cabinet-level political appointees.

Chang suggests that anyone with transit experience will likely hail from out of state. Sounds like it'll be a tough sell, particularly for a zero-compensation board membership.

His resolution also addresses the executive director search. It will ask that two of a minimum of five finalists for the job come from out of state and that the candidates have "hands-on" operational or managerial experience working for an existing mass transit system.

A resolution can only do so much. But Chang's recommendations surely can be taken to HART.

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