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As council determines whether to replace him, HART board member say he’s being ‘punished’ for his views

Published: Jul. 20, 2021 at 12:01 AM HST|Updated: Jul. 20, 2021 at 12:54 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Honolulu City Council will vote Tuesday on whether to replace a controversial voice on the rail authority’s board: Member Joseph Uno.

Uno, engineering consultant and president/founder of J. Uno & Associates, was appointed to the board last summer to serve out the remaining term of former board member John Henry Felix.

Now, he says he’s being pushed out because of his views.

“I think I just feel like someone shouldn’t be punished for being honest and open, and for asking difficult questions,” said Uno, whose appointment ended out in June.

He says he was hoping to be kept on the board at a critical time for the project.

In February, Uno came out in support of stopping the rail project before it gets to Ala Moana.

“It doesn’t have to be Middle Street, it could be Lagoon Drive,” said Uno. “It could be the Kalihi station a little further down the road, down Dillingham where there are a lot of buses.”

Kalihi Councilwoman Radiant Cordero, who chairs the Transportation, Sustainability and Health Committee, proposed a resolution to replace Uno with community activist and filmmaker Anthony Aalto.

Aalto says he has been part of a group investigating the rail.

“What I would like to think of is that I’ve been a constructive critic, not a negative critic,” said Aalto.

“This is something that I think is important for all of the reasons I’ve explained, we need to try and finish it in such a way that the route makes sense that people will actually ride in.”

Aalto said he has an alternative plan in mind that wouldn’t cost taxpayers a dime.

“And that would be for the city to end its portion somewhere in the Iwalei, and from Aala park go underground under the city,” said Aalto. “Come up on the Diamond Head side of Thomas Square, and from there up to UH, there’s so much development potential.”

The City Council’s vote comes amid other shakeups on the board.

Last month, Colleen Hanabusa replaced Glenn Nohara, an engineer and contractor.

Now they’re looking to fill Toby Martyn’s position who resigned from the board a few weeks ago after several controversies.

Uno is concerned that the City Council is bringing in people who don’t have the right experience.

“Just a handful of people with some kind of a technical or construction background on the board,” said Uno. “And I was hoping as an independent voice with some qualifications that would be seen as necessary for a board member.”

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