HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle and the Honolulu City Council introduced the people picked to be members of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART). Oahu voters approved the creation of HART last November to oversee the rail project. The members are volunteers and they officially start on July 1.
Carlisle appointed three members including retired union representative William "Buzzy" Hong and current corporation counsel Carrie Okinaga. Okinaga will step down from her city job at the end of June.
"It's going to be a real loss for us, but a real great gain for essentially HART, which is I think a real important thing to have considering the number of lawsuits that we're going to be confronting," said Carlisle.
Another Carlisle appointee is First Hawaiian Bank CEO Don Horner. He is also the chair of the Board of Education.
"I'm in the process of resigning from four other non-profits in order to make the time available. I would not commit to something I could not give my full attention to," said Horner.
The City Council nominated three people: attorney Ivan Lui-Kwan, strategic planner Keslie Hui, and Damien Kim of the IBEW. Rail opponent Cliff Slater said he wasn't surprised by the choices.
"You see the unions, you see the attornies, the corporation counsel, the usual suspects. Obviously, they're going to meet what the mayor needs or they wouldn't be appointed in the first place," said Horner.
"The purpose of this whole matter was to make sure there were people who could be in charge of this extremely important endeavor who did not necessarily in any shape, fashion or form, have a political master or leader," explained Carlisle.
HART is designed to be a semi-autonomous agency in charge of planning, construction, operation and maintenance of the rail project. That includes deciding how much to charge for fares. City Department of Transportation Services Director Wayne Yoshioka and State Transportation Director Glenn Okimoto will also be part of the authority, which will then choose its ninth member.
"It's really a shame. I think that they should never have had the authority in the first place. We're going to need to know elected people who can be elected out of office," said Slater.
The non-voting tenth member will be David Tanoue, the director of the Department of Planning and Permitting. The City Council's nominees must still voted on by the full council. The council will also discuss HART's $22.1 million budget for its first year during a meeting on Wednesday.