IN CASE YOU MISSED IT!
Yesterday (Star Advertiser), state lawmakers were instructed by Senate President Kouchi and House Speaker Saiki to be available for a special session of the legislature tentatively scheduled for the week of Aug. 28 through Sept. 1.
Although this special session is most likely about bailing out Mayor Caldwell, the City Council and HART for their gross mismanagement of the increasingly costly rail project, taxpayers need to be extra vigilant. That's because the announcement from Democrats leaves a lot of wiggle room: “Accordingly, subject to final confirmation and an agreement on proposed language for bill(s) to be discussed in a special session…” (Civil Beat)
To be clear, lawmakers could quietly put forth some of the bad bills that didn’t make it through the recent legislative session (i.e. Assisted Suicide, Gas Tax, etc.)
Additionally, keep these other developments in mind…
(1) Legislators originally told the Federal Transit Administration they’d meet in July or August; a timeframe of a full month sooner.
(2) Last month the City Council approved the issuing of $350 million in bonds which will allow the construction of the rail project to continue through June 2018.
(3) HART took the shocking step of cancelling its own forensic audit.
(4) None of the system’s 21 enormous train stations has been built yet - only a portion of the overhead guideway - making the final cost of the City’s never-before-built project a mystery.
(5) This past Monday, it was reported that Legislators have made little headway on settling rail funding. And yesterday, minority leader Andria Tupola said that the debate over which tax to increase is far from over.
In the meantime check out these upcoming public forums being held by groups seeking to salvage the rail project. One proposes to change the technology from steel wheels on steel rail to mag-lev. The other is pushing to bring the overhead guideway system down to earth, ‘at grade’ before the track enters town. Both have merits and would help bring down the overall cost of the project.
Option 2A: Street Level Rail from Middle Street
Public Forum Friday, July 14, 4-6 pm Capitol Auditorium
Sponsored by Senator Gil Riviere
National experts address the feasibility of street level rail from Middle Street through downtown Honolulu.
Planned forum topics:
What is Option 2A?
- The world–wide revolution in light rail (street-level and elevated)
- Changes necessary to convert HART stations for low-platform rail cars to allow street level operation after Middle Street
- Creating a true urban transit system incorporating UH Manoa and Waikiki and the potential for pedestrian-friendly neighborhood design with street-level rail
- The cost savings of such a system. The ability to complete the downtown segment within existing budget (without GET surcharge extensions or other new funding mechanisms).
In requesting a Recovery Plan for HART, Federal Transit Authority (FTA) officials did not specify the technology used to complete the project, so long as it delivered commuters in a “minimum operating segment” to Downtown. The Recovery Plan options identified by HART officials in June 2016 included Option 2A: “Build to Middle Street as planned and continue with at-grade rail system.” Experts on street-level rail from around the country will be at the forum to evaluate this option for rail transit in Honolulu.
For more information on the attending National experts see HawaiiFreePress.
Welcome to the people's public hearing on rail
Topic: Honolulu's over-priced steel wheels on steel rails project: Financial Accountability
Sponsored by The Financial Accountability for Rail Mass Transit Association.
Other Option(s) to be discussed: Stop Rail; Find a Better, More Affordable Mass Transit System; or a Combination of Rail and Bus, etc.
- Saturday, July 15, 2017, 9:00 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.
- Washington Middle School Cafeteria 1633 S. King Street (corner of S. King & Punahou Streets) Honolulu, HI 96826
1. This non-governmental sponsored public hearing is to obtain Financial and Managerial Accountability of the City & County of Honolulu’s rail project. We have invited a representative from the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART), and included a list of questions that we wish to have answered. As we have learned: Credible Financial and Managerial Accountability for the taxpayers each quarter is required for the success of a gigantic project such as this.
2. To explore and analyze alternative and affordable public mass transit technologies.
3. We also wish to inform Hawaii State legislators (who have been invited) of more acceptable and effective ways of financing the rail or selecting and employing other technologies.
The public is invited to present up to 5-minute testimonies on the financial accountability of the rail project and/or alternative affordable public transit technologies.
Contact persons for information and for testimony sign-up three days in advance: Call or text Former State Senator Rod Tam (808) 216-5454 or call Mr. Frank Genadio (808) 672-9170.
TAXPAYERS: COME and VOICE YOUR CONCERNS!
As the party of fiscal responsibility and less taxes, Republicans cannot just continue to allow Democrats to throw hard earned taxpayer dollars at HART with dimming prospects for anything that could be called ‘success’. Republicans have repeatedly expressed our opposition for years on the rail tax issue with resolutions at our conventions and in testimony before the Honolulu City Council and the State Legislature.
Island taxpayers are already struggling from paycheck to paycheck. Let the Governor and your elected legislators know that you oppose the continued bailout of Mayor Caldwell and HART’s grossly mismanaged boondoggle.
Honolulu County Chairman