Millions cut from rail PR budget

Millions cut from rail PR budget

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Honolulu rail official, facing criticism for their bloated public relations budget, today canceled the contracts for 8 of its public outreach specialists, in a move that will save $2.8 million.

Daniel Grabauskas, the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation's CEO, said most of the PR contracts were signed years ago when during the planning and public input stages for the $5.3 billion project. Now that the project is heading toward the construction phase, "most of the contracts ... are no longer necessary," Grabauskas said.

"I share the public's concern that we currently have too many subconsultants and staff in public involvement," Grabauskas said.

"While heavier levels of public outreach may have been needed in the early years for planning and during the extensive public input process for the Environmental Impact Statement, it is time to scale back our public involvement resources."

In a memo to HART's board, listed the subcontractors that would be affected by the move. They include:

-- Former Honolulu City Councilman John Desoto, whose termination will save $57,000;

-- Doug Carlson, longtime public relations consultant and former journalist, whose contract elimination will save more than $351,000;

-- Former television journalist and media buyer Laura Pennington's Lychee Productions Inc., whose termination will save nearly $1.2 million;

-- Bennette Evangelista's firm Red Monarch Communications will also lose its contract, saving more than $168,000.

Most of the moves take effect in August.

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