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Wednesday, April 1, 2015
State DoT Stages Massive Traffic Jam Just in Time for April Fools Day Rail Tax Vote
By Selected News Articles @ 1:58 AM :: 5304 Views :: Rail

UPDATE: DoT Admits it Could Have Avoided Traffic Jam, but Didn't

Star-Adv April 1, 2015: DoT's Ed Sniffen took responsibility for not notifying the public earlier about the traffic problems and for not using the second ZipMobile to close the ZipLane before trying to fix the broken ZipMobile with parts from the backup ZipMobile....  (Translation: I'm incompetent, not manipulative.  This has nothing to do with the Council's Rail Tax vote today.  Really.)

The state will make a decision by about 1:30 p.m. on whether to keep the ZipperLane open to Ewa-bound traffic through the night or to close the contra-flow lane.  (We're planning to jam it up one more time, so you will want to pay more GE Tax for our buddies' padded Rail contracts.)

Even if the ZipMobile is able to be fixed by 2 p.m. or 3 p.m., as the state hopes, it will still take 90 minutes to close the ZipperLane from Waikele to Halawa and about three hours to completely close the lane.

read ... Just in Time for Council Vote on Rail Tax

  *   *   *   *   *

April Fools: Council Last Ditch Effort to Sucker Legislators into Raising GE Tax

SA: ...The Honolulu City Council has scheduled a special session for April Fools' Day to consider measures that would signal its support for extending the rail tax, if that's what's needed to complete the island's 20-mile public transit project.

On Wednesday the Council will consider approving on first reading Bill 23, a measure that would remove the Dec. 31, 2022, sunset of Oahu's 0.5 percent surcharge funding most of the project. The bill doesn't specify a new sunset date, but city officials say that detail can be added before the measure gains final approval.

Council Chairman Ernie Martin said he "purposely selected April 1st for the special session as an indication that members will not be fooled again by misrepresentations or insufficient information in our deliberations on these very important issues."  (And yet, he is doing exactly that--and asking all of us to pay higher taxes based on HART's 'misrepresentations or insufficient information.')

The Council's special session will take place about two weeks before an April 16 deadline in the state Legislature, when the House and Senate send bills still in consideration back to each other for further review.  (Translation: This April Fool's joke won't be finalized unless legislators raise taxes--no political risk for Councilmembers.)

Each of those chambers has a bill in play that would extend the rail tax to help the project climb out of its (illusory) deep financial hole. However, in their deliberations over such a controversial and politically risky move, state lawmakers have repeatedly questioned why they haven't heard formal support from the Council....

During recent meetings and hearings, lawmakers have pressed rail leaders for more answers on how, in just a matter of months, those officials went from reporting that the project was on budget to facing as much as a $1 billion budget gap....  (Uhhh ... because they are trying to sucker legislators into raising taxes.)

Martin is also recommending a forensic audit of the rail project.  (Great idea.  Lets do that instead of a tax hike.)

During Wednesday's session the Council will also weigh Resolution 15-7, which would create a deal for rail to eventually borrow hundreds of millions of dollars leveraged against the city's general fund.  (Which means no urgency to do the GE Tax hike this year.  We can do the audit and push back against HART's overspending.)

read ... Council will weigh rail funding measures Wednesday

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After Carmageddon, DoT Decides to do Simple Things They Should Have Done Years Ago

KHON: Backup units for the computer battery pack that failed will now be held in reserve in the event of future problems. Previously, this unit was not held in reserve due to its limited, one-year shelf life in storage. HDOT and ZipMobile vendor Lindsay Corp. are also preparing a list of additional electronic backup parts that are practical to keep on hand.

Lindsay Corp. will allow HDOT use of its proprietary software and train local staff on re-installation procedures.

HDOT is submitting a budget proposal to the State Legislature this week for the long-term rehabilitation or replacement for one or both ZipMobiles.

Highway operational improvements are being considered to formalize use of freeway shoulder lanes during afternoon rush-hour traffic in various locations, such as the H-1 right shoulders from Pearl Harbor to Salt Lake and from Aiea to Pearl City, that were used in the Tuesday and Wednesday traffic backups.

read ... Simple Things they Should have done Years Ago

  *   *   *   *   *

In Desperate Effort to Con Legislators into Raising Taxes, Grabauskas Pretends to Skip Bonus This Year

SA: The top executive overseeing Oahu's cash-strapped rail effort is asking to forego his annual bonus this year because of the agency's money problems.

Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation Executive Director Dan Grabauskas told board members Thursday that the agency is working "diligently and responsibly to reduce costs and demonstrate that we are responding seriously to the public's call for fiscal austerity and self discipline," in an April 2 letter.

HART board members on the Human Resources Committee considered Grabauskas' request in executive session. The full board is slated to consider Grabauskas' request later Thursday.

Several lawmakers have questioned whether the rail project is doing all it can to contain costs as they decide whether to vote in favor of extending the rail tax....

The request also comes amid Grabauskas' annual job evaluation, a process that will play out this month.  (Translation: They might fire him for incompetence.)  He first joined HART as its director in April 2012 and has received two annual $35,000 performance-based bonus.

Grabauskas' original three-year deal, paying an annual base salary of $245,000, ends this month. His new contract pays a base of $257,000 and make him eligible for a 3.5 percent raise in the subsequent two years.

His new contract also replaces the annual flat-rate bonus of $35,000 that Grabauskas was eligible for with a range of bonus amounts that could equal as much as 15 percent of his salary.  (Or as little as 0--meaning he is giving up nothing.)

PDF: Letter from HART CEO

read ... Anything to Raise Taxes





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