Rapid transit authority announces CEO finalist

Keslie Hui; Chair of HART board's Human Resources Committee
Keslie Hui; Chair of HART board's Human Resources Committee
Ann Kobayashi; Honolulu City Councilwoman
Ann Kobayashi; Honolulu City Councilwoman

By Ben Gutierrez - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The authority overseeing the development of Honolulu fixed-rail transit system announced that it has picked Daniel Grabauskas as the finalist to be its chief executive officer.

If approved by the board of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation, Grabauskas would begin his new job in mid-April.

Grabauskas is chairman and senior strategic advisor for the Bronner Center for Transportation Management, and is the former general manager of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.

HART has proposed a three-year contract, which would pay Grabauskas a base salary of $245,000 a year. He also would get a $36,000 housing allowance and a $6,000 transportation allowance, plus a potential $35,000 performance bonus.

The transportation authority said the figures were along the lines suggested by the executive search consulting firm that help find the CEO candidates. "They were able to provide us with a range of salaries that are competitive within our industry for various experience levels, and then through direct conversations with the various finalists," said Keslie Hui, who chairs the HART board's Human Resources Committee.

Hui said the public will have a chance to make comments and ask questions when it votes on whether to hire Grabauskas next Thursday.

"I don't know what the rush is," said Honolulu City Councilwoman and rail critic Ann Kobayashi. "And they're going to have to start paying this person -- what is it, March first or whatever -- and this is the highest paid position in the city."

Kobayashi also said this is another example of how the city isn't really giving citizens a choice. "They selected someone, and then they say you can comment, you know?" she said.

Meanwhile, there were also questions about Grabauskas' dismissal as head of the MBTA. HART board members said they investigated, and determined his departure was politically motivated. "He was appointed by a Republican governor (current GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney). That leadership then changed in Massachusetts to a Democrat in that position, and there was pressure for him to leave," Hui said.

In a statement, Grabauskas said, "I am tremendously excited to have a part in this historic project and wish to thank the HART board for their confidence. There is much I have to learn about the project, and will rely on our staff, our elected leaders, stakeholders and the community for support in my transition."

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