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6 transit board nominees named

The mayor and City Council each appoint three, with the Council picks still up for debate

By Gene Park

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 04:53 a.m. HST, Apr 19, 2011

  Council Vice Chairman and Transportation Committee Chairman Breene Harimoto, center, with Mayor Peter Carlisle at right, introduced appointees of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation yesterday at Honolulu Hale.

City officials yesterday named the majority of the 10-member board that will oversee Honolulu's rail transit project.

Six members were announced: three from the mayor's office and three from the City Council.

Mayor Peter Carlisle's appointees are:

» Don Horner, most recently picked as chairman of the state Board of Education, and also chairman and chief executive officer of First Hawaiian Bank.

» William "Buzzy" Hong, former executive director of the Hawaii Building and Construction Trades Council, and a former Ho­no­lulu police officer.

» Carrie Okinaga, city corporation counsel who will resign from that position by June 30.

Each member of the City Council submitted a nominee for the board, and of those, only three were chosen by City Council Chairman Nestor Garcia and Council Transportation Chairman Breene Harimoto. They are:

» Ivan Lui-Kwan, an attorney and former director of the city Department of Budget and Fiscal Services.

» Keslie Hui, development manager for Forest City Enterprises.

» Damien Kim, business manager and financial secretary of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers union.

The Council nominees are still up for debate within the Transportation Committee and the full Council via a resolution introduced by Harimoto yesterday morning.

Joining the six appointees on the transit board will be the city Department of Transportation Services director (currently Wayne Yoshioka); state Department of Transportation director (currently Glenn Okimoto); and the city Planning and Permitting director (currently David Tanoue), who will be an ex-officio nonvoting 10th member.

The ninth member will be chosen by the eight voting members. The city Rapid Transit Division will become the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation on July 1, and will be under the direction of the 10-member board and a yet-to-be-hired executive director.

"There is a hope that there's going to be a smooth and seamless transition," Carlisle said. "The nature and caliber of these people are such that it's not going to take a whole lot of schooling for them to start going strong and quickly and effectively."

City Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi said she doesn't expect a fight when it comes to approving the Council's appointees, even though her nominee, Donald Takaki, wasn't selected. But she said she was taken aback that a news conference was held before the Council could discuss Garcia and Harimoto's choices.

"That's how it has been with the rail issue," Kobayashi said.

Councilman Tom Berg's nominee was Panos Prevedouros, an outspoken rail critic and University of Hawaii professor. He said it's "unfortunate" and a "travesty" that Prevedouros, who has "no union ties and no allegiance other than doing the people's business," was not picked.

Carlisle said being anti-rail "was an immediate disqualifier in my mind."

Although the six members announced yesterday have little experience with transportation systems, Carlisle said that expertise comes in the form of the two transportation directors.

"They may be ex-officio members, but they are members nonetheless," he said.

The administration also has had run-ins with the City Council as to who will approve the rail authority's budget. The administration is proposing a $21 million fiscal 2012 budget, and has said the authority should have oversight.

However, the City Council has argued that the Council has the power to authorize the budget. State Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz, a former councilmember who wrote the City Charter amendment that created the authority, has agreed with that interpretation.

Yesterday, Carlisle said only that the administration will work "legally and pragmatically" with the Council on the authority's budget. Okinaga, who advises Carlisle on the issue, deferred to Carlisle's statement.






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