Power struggle over rail money continues

Honolulu City Council
Honolulu City Council
Peter Carlisle
Peter Carlisle

By Tim Sakahara - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - In a unanimous 9-0 vote the Honolulu City Council went against the mayors vetoes in regards to who controls rail money.  The council believes it's a check and balance over the nearly $5.5 billion rail project.

But the mayor says people don't want decisions left to the whims of politicians and thus the conflict over the intent of the law. The dispute is over power and how much the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation or HART should have.

"It seems that this administration is more interested in confrontation rather than compromise," said Ikaika Anderson, new Honolulu Council Vice-Chair.

"They keep on talking about some compromise. I keep on hearing that from them. I haven't been given anything that would suggest any compromise whatsoever. So if they're talking about a compromise and how I'm not willing to compromise why don't they give me in writing what their compromise is," said Peter Carlisle, Honolulu Mayor.

"Whether it be discussing this with HART or possibly going to mediation or arbitration as another means to resolve this dispute we're always hopeful of those particular measures," said Ernie Martin, New Council Chair.

"They know that my desire is to let them take this and run with it. I've given up substantial authority since previously all decisions made about rail were in an executive department in which I control. I've told people long ago the reason we need HART is to get it out of my hands and other politicians who come and go and certainly ones that reorganize every six months so that we don't have that type of inconsistency following us all the way to the end of this project which could last a decade," said Carlisle.

Today the mayor didn't make any threats over the issue.  Instead he took a more subdued wait and see approach.

"I will not violate my oath of office, nor will I ignore the will of the people and for those reasons I will allow HART to do its job and I will wait and see what they do and what is done by council in the future," said Carlisle.

Which means we'll wait a little longer.  HART doesn't officially form until Friday.

Ironically the case could come down to how good a teacher Carlisle was because he was new council chair Ernie Martin's professor in law school.

"There comes a time in life when the student needs to take on the master," Martin said with a smile.

For what it's worth Carlisle did say he gave Martin a passing grade.

The Council overrode the following bills:

  • Bill 33-11: Operating budget for the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART).
  • Bill 34-11: Capital improvement program budget for HART.
  • Bill 35-11: Authorizes reimbursement from the transit fund to the general and highway funds for rail-related expenses incurred before the creation of the transit fund in 2007.
  • Bill 36-11: Reinstates a discount on tipping fees charged to companies that deliver recycling residue to the Waimanalo Gulch landfill.

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