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Former Hawaiian Air exec to join HART board

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Hoyt Zia

Insurance company executive Colbert Matsumoto is leaving the 10-member board overseeing Honolulu’s rail project.

Officials announced the move during this morning’s Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation board of directors meeting, the group’s first since state lawmakers failed to reach a funding deal that would help bail out the city and its multi-billion-dollar runaway costs to build the system.

After the meeting, Matsumoto said he had too many other professional commitments (he also serves trustee for the state’s Employee Retirement System) and couldn’t give rail the attention that it requires. He added that he’d been considering the move since Honolulu voters passed a City Charter amendment last fall giving the HART board more oversight responsibility.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell has tapped former Hawaiian Airlines’ executive Hoyt Zia to replace Matsumoto on the board. Zia served as Hawaiian’s senior vice president and general counsel and corporate secretary from 2007 to 2016, according to a release from Caldwell’s office.

It’s the latest change to a board that’s seen frequent turnover over the past two years while attempting to oversee the largest public’s works project in state history.

Matsumoto, who as Bishop Estate’s court master helped lead the institution out of a tumultuous period in the late 1990s, was appointed to the HART board by Caldwell in April 2016 to replace its former chairman, Don Horner. Matsumoto’s term was slated to expire in 2020, and he had been leading the semi-autonomous rail agency’s effort to find a permanent rail executive director to replace Dan Grabauskas, who resigned in August.

He is the second HART board member to step down from the oversight group in as many meetings. Last month, original HART board member William “Buzz” Hong announced he was leaving to join the Honolulu Fire Commission. Hong served on the HART board since its 2011 inception. Damien Kim, the board’s current chairman, is the only original board member left.

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