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Embattled Honolulu rail board chairman Tobias Martyn abruptly resigns

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                                Toby Martyn.


    Toby Martyn.

The embattled chairman of the board that oversees the city’s troubled rail project abruptly resigned today under calls for state and federal investigations on whether his company benefited from the sale of city general obligation bonds and whether he should have disclosed potential conflicts of interest.

The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation announced today that HART board chairman Tobias Martyn resigned from the volunteer board “for personal reasons.”

State Sen. Kurt Fevella (R, Ewa Beach-Iroquois Point) — the state Senate’s minority leader — has written to the FBI, Federal Transit Administration and state Attorney General’s Office requesting that they investigate HART on a variety of concerns based on media reports.

They include “possible criminal acts” committed by Martyn related to “Rail General Obligation Bond Issuances,” regarding Martyn’s “affirmative vote requesting the Honolulu City Council approve the issuance and sale of ($292 million in) rail general obligation bonds. This action was taken while Mr. Martyn also served as Stifel Financial Corp’s Branch Manager and Vice President of Investments.”

The city has not respond to requests for information about Stifel’s role in the sale of the bonds.

Fevella told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser late today that he has not heard from either the FBI, FTA or state Attorney General on his requests, but has been told by the Office of Information Practices that it plans its own investigation.

OPI could not be reached for comment late today.

“I’m glad he (Martyn) made the right decision and I just pray that the HART board doesn’t consider (former HART Chairwoman, Congresswoman and incoming board member Colleen) Hanabusa for the position,” Fevella told the Star-Advertiser. “Hanabusa left HART in dismay the last time. She’s part of the bloc. All of them should not be there. … If they really care about the project, they’ll step down. Toby did the right thing.”

Martyn was appointed to the HART Board on Nov. 18, 2018, and became chairman in September. His term was scheduled to expire in January 2023.

Since he was appointed by the HART board, Fevella had called on Martyn’s board colleagues to remove him.

City Councilwoman Heidi Tsuneyoshi, a sometimes HART critic, told the Star-Advertiser that Martyn’s resignation “was the appropriate action to take at this time” but should not delay investigations into whether he behaved appropriately.

Tsuneyoshi said she “still wants answers and more clarity as to the issues that were presented regarding his involvement in the floating of bonds. I look forward to continued questioning. I still want answers. Although I believe it’s appropriate for him to take this step, I don’t think it negates our end for transparency regarding bond issuances and the hiring of Hanabusa.”

Hanabusa was the only person to bid on a HART consulting contract worth nearly $1 million that she ultimately declined. She was then appointed to the HART board by Mayor Rick Blangiardi and is scheduled to take her seat when the board meets this month.

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