Views on transit should be made public
The city administration is delaying access to community comments on transit proposals.
CHOOSING a transit solution for Honolulu undoubtedly will be a contentious issue in the months and years ahead. The community's trust and support is essential for the success of the largest public works project ever undertaken by the city. Uncertainty about any aspect of decision-making will damage that trust.
Unfortunately, conflicts already have arisen as the Hannemann administration takes the initial steps toward determining the best way -- whether by rail, buses or roads -- to ease travel through the city. Most recent is the administration's refusal of timely access to comments that members of the public submitted at two meetings this week on the transit proposals.
Instead of verbal testimony or submitting remarks in writing, as is typical at public forums, people had to voice their opinions to a court reporter or fill in forms.
When a Star-Bulletin reporter attempted to read the paper work, city officials removed the materials or covered them up, saying they first needed to be reviewed by officials. Though they acknowledged the materials are public documents, officials also made a bewildering claim that the meetings were not subject to the open meetings law.
The action raises questions about why the submissions have to be cleared by the administration before release and whether all comments will be made public without screening. Moreover, officials would not say when the materials would be available to the public.
Another troubling issue came late last month when City Councilman Charles Djou asked the federal government to investigate the propriety of the administration's awarding of a contract for a $9.7 million transit study, of which the meetings were a part.
Without full explanation, the administration reduced the role of two public relations companies who were part of the original subcontracting team and added another company, headed by a political supporter of the mayor's.
Taken together, these incidents cast a shadow on City Hall. The mayor and other officials should be doing everything they can to ensure that the public's opinions -- even those that might conflict with the administration's -- will be considered sincerely and in full.
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