HART CEO Says She Won't Accept Potential $25,000 Bonus

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March 22, 2022

The executive director leading Honolulu’s struggling rail project now says that she will not accept a $25,000 bonus for her first year on the job, days before the board that oversees her was slated to vote on that award.

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Lori Kahikina, head of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation, informed agency board members of her intent in a letter Thursday and asked them to forgo any further consideration.

She and her team have made “significant progress” on rail, Kahikina stated.

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She added, however: “I also recognize that there is still much more work to be done before we can turn this project into a success story.”

HART Director Lori Kahikina has asked the agency’s board to forgo any further consideration of a $25,000 bonus for her first year at the helm. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2021

Her letter did not specify further on the decision to decline, and Kahikina did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.

The HART board was supposed to consider the final approval of that $25,000 bonus during its meeting to be held later this week.

Earlier this month, when the board’s Human Resources Committee voted 3-1 to approve the bonus, two committee members questioned whether the award would send the right message to the public amid rail’s ongoing budget problems.

“I’m placed in a very difficult position. Although I can appreciate the effort and the work that our current executive has put in since she’s taken over… I can’t, in all fiduciary good conscience, support a bonus at this time,” board member Kika Bukoski said at that March 10 meeting.

Several days after that HR Committee meeting, Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi announced a new proposal to cut the city’s rail line 1.25 miles short of Ala Moana Center and to eliminate the last two stations. That proposal would also cut a 1,600-space park-and-ride facility at Pearl Highlands.

Kahikina earns a $275,000 base salary – more than what Blangiardi earns but still less than the $315,000 salary of her predecessor at HART, Andrew Robbins.

Another former HART executive director, Dan Grabauskas, similarly asked the board to forgo consideration of a $35,000 bonus in 2015 as rail faced an earlier budget crisis. About a year later, he resigned from the job amid mutual agreement with the board.

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