Board extends review of rail’s chief
The board overseeing Honolulu’s rail project will hold a special meeting early next month to continue its behind-closed-doors assessment of the executive director’s job performance.
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The board overseeing
Honolulu’s rail project will hold a special meeting early next month to continue its behind-closed-doors assessment of the executive director’s job performance.
Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation board President Colleen Hanabusa announced the Aug. 8 session Thursday after board members emerged from nearly three more hours of confidential talks on HART Executive Director Dan Grabauskas.
Since April the board has spent nearly 13 hours in executive session and given itself two 60-day extensions to discuss Grabauskas’ job review. That’s far more time than the board has devoted to any of Grabauskas’ prior three annual evaluations. It comes as the rail project faces another massive budget shortfall, future uncertainty and a decline in public confidence.
It also comes during an election year in which rail is once again dominating Honolulu’s mayoral race.
The HART board’s latest self-imposed deadline to issue a report on Grabauskas is Aug. 21, and the body has one more regular meeting scheduled before then, on Aug. 18. The meeting that Hanabusa scheduled, on Aug. 8, falls ahead of Hawaii’s Aug. 13 primary election.
Also at Thursday’s meeting, the HART board discussed a new proposed City Council resolution introduced by the Council’s Budget Committee chairwoman, Ann Kobayashi, urging that HART suspend its property acquisition and eminent domain proceedings until the city has an official “recovery plan” for how the project will proceed past Middle Street.
In June the HART board instructed the agency’s property acquisition staff not to file any new eminent domain actions past Middle Street, but it also said to keep pursuing acquisitions in which the landowners are open to the transactions. Those instructions were publicly disclosed for the first time Thursday, and they came out of a closed-session meeting with its legal counsel June 16.
Rail officials told staff that the Council’s Executive Matters committee might review Kobayashi’s resolution on Aug. 22. They asked for guidance on how to testify before the Council, but the board lost its quorum midway through the discussion Thursday, so it couldn’t take action.
Hanabusa speculated that the Council might take solace when it sees that HART has already started addressing what to do about property acquisitions along the rail line’s last stretch through town. “They may find that acceptable,” she said.
The city has until Dec. 31 to submit its recovery plan for rail, based on a new deadline extended last week by the Federal Transit Administration.