Former congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa is declining Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation’s $924,000 consulting contract to accept an appointment to the HART board that oversees the troubled rail project.
She will not be receiving any monetary compensation for her position on the board.
The contract she is now declining from HART was worth $216,000 for the first 18 months, with a 7.7% increase in year two and a second increase of 7.1% in the final year for an aggregate total of $924,000 over six years.
Instead, Hanabusa will be replacing board member Glenn Nohara whose term ends June 30.
She served on the board from June 2015 to October 2016 and was the chairwoman from May 2016 to October 2016.
Mayor Rick Blangiardi was enthusiastic about his appointment of Hanabusa to the board.
“I was grateful that Colleen understood where I was coming from, recognized her abilities and she agreed,” he said.
“She’s going to bring exactly what we need and the challenges we face on a going forward basis.”
The HART contract offered to Hanabusa drew criticism over HART’s spending priorities as it just had let go of an unspecified number of consultants and 48 of the 112 HART staff in an attempt to cut costs.
Another criticism over the contract was accusations that the criteria specified in the request for proposals was specifically tailored to fit Hanabusa’s qualifications.
Hanabusa pushed back against those assertions.
“I don’t know why there weren’t more people (who) applied,” she said.
She listed former city councilman Ernie Martin as someone who may have also fit the criteria.
“And I’m sure that though they have these qualifications, it was still all negotiable,” Hanabusa said.
Blangiardi emphasized that Hanabusa’s appointment to the board was not a means to evade criticism over Hanabusa’s consulting contract from HART.
“The truth of the matter is I had nothing to do with that contract,” he said.
“In this true spirit of being a public servant, she’s foregoing compensation for a volunteer position all for the greater good. I think that speaks to Colleen’s long history of serving the state.”