All tracks lead to Don Horner

I applauded when Gov. Neil Abercrombie appointed First Hawaiian Bank chairman and CEO Don Horner to the Board of Education.

He seemed just the kind of guy needed to help shake the school system out of its bureaucratic morass and establish a culture of clear goals and accountability.

I’m less enthusiastic about Mayor Peter Carlisle’s appointment of Horner to the new Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation, which will oversee construction and operation of the city’s $5.5 billion rail project.

For one thing, Horner seems to be spreading himself a bit thin. The BOE, where he’s currently chairman, and the transit authority are both big jobs, and presumably, he’s still expected to pull a few shifts at the helm of FHB.

There’s also a concern about undue concentration of power. The public schools and rail are arguably the highest current priorities of the state and city, and it seems inappropriate to have one guy in the middle of both.

There are other banks and other CEO’s in this town if those credentials are deemed essential to these projects.

Carlisle said his three appointees to the transit authority “will keep politics out of the rail project,” but it’s difficult to see how.

In addition to Horner, he named outgoing corporation counsel Carrie Okinaga and William “Buzzy” Hong, retired executive director of the Hawaii Building and Construction Trades Council.

Okinaga has been in the middle of the political fight between the administration and City Council about fiscal oversight of the transit authority, and Hong’s group was a leader in the political battle to win approval of rail.

The City Council has appointed attorney and former city finance director Ivan Lui-Kwan, planner Kelsie Hui and Damien Kim of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

The city and state transportation directors are also members, and those eight will choose the ninth member.

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6 Comments on “All tracks lead to Don Horner”

  1. Richard Gozinya Says:

    I could not agree more.

    Horner is an impressive guy but I got a bad feeling when he said on air that he had to resign from 4 other non-profits to free time for the transit job.

    I’m not sure just how rigorous the time demands will be on BOE & HART board members but at the very least I don’t like the optics of trading this executive’s attention between two such politically charged, sensitive and important tasks.

    I thought Abercrombie did quite well with the BOE picks but I’m not thrilled with the overall constituency of the transit board. ‘Course in part that may be because I’m skeptical of the Mall Train to Nowhere.

  2. Guido Sarducci Says:

    Hey. There are only so many old boys left. They’re doing the best with what little they have.

  3. Manoak Says:

    This seems to be part of what looks like the Mayor Peter Carlisle’s strange adolescent resentment of the Governor.

    It’s starting to become a problem. Don Horner showed poor judgment in accepting both jobs. It does not bode well.

  4. Michael Says:

    I see in the future a loan made with First Hawaiian Bank and it will be for ending of Furlough Fridays for the State and County and stop any further Furlough Fridays for Schools. I still see layoffs. Pidgin first, English second and Je parle français will the language of Hawaii. France will own Hawaii.

    For Mayor Carlisle to oppose Governor Abercrombie is typical of a Republican is to object what Democrats do, regardless if is for the benefit of the People of Hawaii. It is a Party thing, like follow the lead Republican. Democrats seem to be the hoi pollois and Republicans in Hawaii the lemmings.

  5. Guido Sarducci Says:

    Carlisle quit the GOP before he launched his Mayoral campaign.

  6. Michael Says:

    In Hawaii, one who is will always be. If in disagreement with a Democrat, who would oppose but a Republican or a T-Party member. Since Mayor Carlisle was a Republican, he is still a chameleon who can change their colors but is the same person.


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