Honolulu Rail PR Contractors Whacked

Adrienne LaFrance/Civil Beat

Two years after questions were first raised about how much money the city was devoting to public relations for the controversial rail project, officials canned more than half the PR staff and cut nearly $3 million in contracts.

Dan Grabauskas, executive director for Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation, announced he was cutting his public relations staff and consultants who were working on the $5.2 billion rail project by more than half.

These cuts included axing seven subcontractors for Parsons Brinkerhoff Inc. that have current contracts worth $2.47 million.

Other snips, such as scaling back other PR contracts and sending out a HART newsletter in electronic form only, will result in actual savings of about $350,000.

While it might seem that this is a good thing for taxpayers, the larger question remains about why there was so much fat jiggling in the PR budget.

And considering this is a relatively small part of a $5.2 billion project, what can the public expect in the future? Who’s really watching the books?

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