HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) -Honolulu's Rail project has enough problems without repeatedly shooting itself in the foot with bizarre hires and personnel decisions.
Last week – on a day he could have been celebrating approval of the system’s financial plan – HART’s CEO was defending keeping on his payroll a media relations specialist convicted in a major union scandal.
Russell Yamanoha was convicted of a misdemeanor, but it was not a minor crime. As an extravagantly paid union executive he intentionally helped rig an election in order to take millions of dollars from union members.
We should also mention rail's new Chief Operating Officer David Uchiyama. He's the same guy who led Island Air into what a judge called a "catastrophic" bankruptcy. It left employees and vendors holding the bag with millions in debt.
In hiring him, HART CEO Andrew Robbins cited Uchiyama's "vast knowledge of business operations."
As for Yamanoha, he said the crime had nothing to do with his job on the rail project.
Robbins needs to get out of the office more often and hear what the public says about his project. They don’t trust HART and fear it will bankrupt the city. Employing people associated with major fraud and bankruptcy will not improve that image.