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HART Board Defends Its Decisions Amid Calls For Forensic Audit

Cory Lum
Civil Beat

Board members of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation today defended their decisions in managing the city's controversial $9.2 billion rail project.

A board committee passed a resolution on entrances to the Waipahu Transit Center.

But members of the public and the board spent considerable time discussing the recent subpoenas from a federal grand jury. Some who attended the meeting renewed calls for a forensic audit of the project.

Honolulu City Councilmember Heidi Tsuneyoshi has introduced a measure to give the City Council the power to approve an audit of the project.

"The Honolulu City Council has repeatedly, over years and years, asked for specifics - as far as cost and project analysis, and what was happening," said Tsuneyoshi. "The Honolulu City Council has consistently received varying forms of what the final cost was for this project."

"So at this time, I feel that it is important for us to get the forensic audit completed. Because as a representative on the legislative body of the Honolulu City Council, I believe it would be irresponsible to move forward without getting clear answers."

Tsuneyoshi also called for a pause in rail spending until there are more financial details about the project.

In response, HART board member Hoyt Zia asked the public to hold off on its judgment until more information is released on the federal probe.

"These grand jury subpoenas shouldn't be taken, nothing should be inferred, that there has been criminal acitivity suspected at HART," said Zia. "They're simply subpoenas with documents. Yes, the grand jury is investigating something . . . We have no idea what's underneath it. And that it's wrong to imply that there's something negative of that at all. That HART has been involved."

"Because we don't know. There may very well have been, and we will find out. But until that is the case, and we know that, I just think it's wrong for people to imply that there is something that we did wrong as a board, as a[n] agency, because that's just not the case."

The federal grand jury has issued three subpoenas requesting more than 30,000 documents on the project, its relocation effort, and the minutes of board meetings.

Casey Harlow is an HPR reporter and occasionally fills in as local host of Morning Edition and All Things Considered. Contact him at or on Twitter (@CaseyHarlow).
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