Thursday, August 20, 2009


Did City lie about financial plan?

by Larry Geller

Advertiser reporter Sean Hao deserves a promotion from his byline, “Advertiser Staff Writer.” His articles, including today’s City estimated that Oahu rail funding may fall $500M short are investigative reporting that demonstrate why we still need to have traditional print newspapers.

As a journalist, Hao does not cast stones himself, but he has done a darn good job of exposing the need for someone to do so in this instance.

The Advertiser helpfully posted some documents for those with web access, one of which has this cover page:

Financial Plan

Note that this clearly says it is a financial plan, and it is dated May 1, 2009. In the introduction to the plan, it is not referred to as a draft. It says, “This report provides a Financial Plan for implementing and operating the approximately 20-mile fixed guideway transit system in Honolulu from East Kapolei to Ala
Moana Center via the Honolulu International Airport (thereafter referred to as “the Project”), as well as operating and maintaining its existing public transportation system.”

First problem: Mufi administration secrecy (from the article):

City officials did not respond when asked why the May 1 report was not made public or shared with City Council members when it was first issued.

Second problem:

In City Council testimony in June, city transportation Director Wayne Yoshioka said the project didn't have a funding shortfall. Yoshioka also said there was no completed, updated financial plan for the project.

Reporter Sean Hao has done his work. The next step is up to others. If the report is accurate, and City Council members know whether it is, then it would appear that Yoshioka has lied in testimony to the Council.

This rail project is supposed to be for the benefit of the people of Honolulu, who are being asked to pay as much as $4,000 each for it. The clear beneficiaries are developers and land owners, and they in turn are able to contribute mightily to politicians’ campaigns. It seems that to keep this machine rolling (the money machine as well as the train) City officials have been caught in what sounds like a blatant lie to elected lawmakers and to citizens.

The City Council should investigate, and if a city transportation director has been found to have lied in fact, then I would expect that he would be removed from office.

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