City transit contract
is criticized

Subcontractors question
favoritism after a third party
is added to the process

Some City Council members and public relations executives are questioning whether favoritism was given to a political supporter of Mayor Mufi Hannemann who is being considered to work on a study to pick a mass transit system.

City & County of Honolulu Councilman Charles Djou said there might be a legitimate reason why the administration is favoring certain contractors to be considered but that he has not received a sufficient explanation.

Public relations executives Kitty Lagareta and Ruth Limtiaco also want explanations. "I'd like to know what it was based on myself," Lagareta said.

Their companies were part of the original team assembled by Parsons, Brinckerhoff, Quade and Douglas to assist in submitting a bid to the city for the contract, not the company of the mayor's political ally that is now being considered for work, Lagareta and Limtiaco said.

Joe Pickard, president of Community Planning & Engineering Inc. as well as Environet Inc., denied that his relationship with the mayor led to his company being considered as a nonbid subconsultant.

Pickard said he approached main consultant Parsons, Brinckerhoff, Quade and Douglas, which was awarded the nearly $10 million contract on Friday by the city, to be part of the project.

He said neither politics or his friendship with the mayor had anything to do with his decision to pursue the work, and if he gets on the project, it is because he is qualified to do so.

"I've always been a self-starter. I have always gone out there and done a good job, and we get selected based on past history and knowledge," said Pickard, an engineer.

Pickard said that he has been doing engineering and community planning work in West Oahu for decades and knows the growth issues that the analysis will tackle.

"It's very insulting to me. It's very insulting to make the kind of allegations they make when I am qualified," he said.

Limtiaco and Lagareta say they no longer want to be part of the project after they were told that their roles would be diminished and Pickard would be part of the team.

"I don't want this work and don't need it badly," said Lagareta, chief executive officer of Communications Pacific.

"I feel that it's been tainted," said Limtiaco, president of the Limtiaco Co. "I am just extremely disappointed in how I have seen this entire process handled."

Limtiaco said that she had been working with Parsons since April and thought they had a positive working relationship up until last week.

"I was told on Friday (Aug.) 26 that our scope was reduced as well as Communications Pacific and that a third company had been added to the mix for the community outreach part of the work," Limtiaco said.

City Transportation Director Edward Hirata told the City Council's Transportation Committee yesterday that the contract was signed last Friday.

He also denied that politics has anything to do with the selection of subcontractors.

He said the city does have approval over subcontractors and that the reasons for changes are sometimes subjective.

"We are working with Parsons Brinckerhoff in putting together the rest of the team, so that's the process we're going through," Hirata told the committee.

Djou also said that he believes Pickard and his vice president Vicki Gaynor, another Hannemann supporter, are qualified and think they can do the job, and all he wants is an explanation on why another company is being considered.

City & County of Honolulu

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