City is sued over mass-transit project
A public relations firm has filed a lawsuit against the city, accusing two administrators of violating state procurement laws when selecting a company to study a mass-transit system for Honolulu.
Communications Pacific Inc. alleges the two administrators directed Parsons Brinkerhoff Quade & Douglas Inc. to include Community Planning and Engineering Inc. for the "public involvement" portion of the project although the company wasn't evaluated in the selection process. Community Planning is headed by Joe Pickard, a friend and political supporter of Mayor Mufi Hannemann.
The city is denying the accusations.
The lawsuit names Mary Patricia Waterhouse, the director of the Department of Budget and Fiscal Services, and Toru Hamayasu, acting deputy director of the Department of Transportation Services, for allegedly breaking the procurement code.
The lawsuit filed Tuesday in Circuit Court said Community Planning was not listed among subcontractors competing for the $9.7 million study to select a mass-transit system for Honolulu.
But before awarding the contract, the defendants required Parsons Brinkerhoff to include Community Planning and, as a result, Communications Pacific's role was greatly reduced, according to the lawsuit.
The company alleges that adding unevaluated sub-consultants to a contract after selection of the main contractor violates the procurement law.
Communications Pacific had sought a ruling from the Procurement Policy Board, but last week State Comptroller Russ Saito, a member of the board, declined to take up the case.
City spokesman Bill Brennan said the city has done nothing wrong, adding that it is unfortunate that taxpayers' money will be used to fight a lawsuit that is "totally without merit."