Caldwell: 'We Should Be Cautious Moving Forward' on HART Resolution

Jul 29, 2019

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell says he is willing to listen to arguments on a resolution proposing to dissolve the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation.

Updated 7/31 10 AM

Earlier this month, Honolulu Council Chair Ikaika Anderson submitted the resolution, which would amend the City Charter to do away with the agency. The resolution cites the authority's reported mismanagement and funding woes as reasons for the move.

If approved, the city would ask voters on the 2020 general election ballot whether to get rid of HART. It would then transfer the authority's operations to the city's Department of Transportation Services.

"I can understand the frustration coming from Council Chair Anderson and other members of the council," said Caldwell. "But I think we should go slow on this issue."

Caldwell is concerned that a motion to dissolve HART could jeopardize federal funding. He said the authority and the city are still working on unlocking more than $740 million that is being withheld by the federal government as it continues its investigation into the rail project.

"Any kind of change could trouble the Federal Transit Administration," Caldwell said.

Caldwell is also concerned about the kind of impact HART's dissolution could have on public-private partnership bids to help develop the rail project as well as on funding coming from the state.

"I think it's a valid thing to discuss before the council," said Caldwell. "I'm hoping that the hearings will be productive and fruitful. And, perhaps, things will be learned to better manage the project.

"I'm open and [willing to] listen to everybody, including HART."

The City Council is expected to take up the resolution at its meeting next month.

Resolution 19-170

Correction: An earlier version cited Mayor Caldwell as saying he believes he could veto the resolution if it passed the City Council. However, Council resolutions that initiate a charter amendment would not require the mayor's approval, and is therefore not subject to his disapproval or veto under RCH 3-203.

However under RCH 15-102, the Mayor would need to approve any council resolution that initiates a charter amendment -- "if it is to be submitted to the electors at a general election immediately preceding, or immediately following, a general election at which a charter commission is authorized to submit its own proposals."