Honolulu Rail Audit: Too Many Consultants, Too Little Accountability

PF Bentley/Civil Beat

When it comes to public relations for Honolulu's $5.26 billion rail project, the city's auditor is OK with coloring books and lanyards.

But paying a consultant more than a half-million dollars to spout hyper-political, pro-rail sentiments on his blog is another story.

On Monday, Honolulu Auditor Edwin Young released his agency’s findings related to the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation's public relations and community involvement contracts.

The audit is especially critical of a long-running blog by Doug Carlson of Carlson Communications, calling it "questionable" and slanted. Carlson was paid more than $563,000 for his work.

Since 2005, the city has spent $13.9 million on public relations contracts in general, mainly through its consultants Parsons Brinckerhoff and InfraConsult.

But some of the PR work caused the Honolulu City Council to call for an audit of the program.

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