Senate President Donna Kim under fire for campaign tactics used in Congressional race
Sen. Donna Kim

BY JIM DOOLEY – State Sen. Donna Kim, a frequent critic of programs and activities at state airports, got an unpleasant surprise when she took the new shuttle service from Honolulu International Airport to her home in the Kalihi neighborhood of Honolulu.

Kim was charged more than twice the advertised price for the trip.

“It was supposed to cost $14.55 to go to Kalihi but they came back and said it was $32,” Kim said at a legislative hearing yesterday.

The lower price was based on the frequently travelled but more distant shuttle route to Waikiki, but that didn’t mollify Kim.

“You pay double the amount to go one-third the distance,” Kim said.

To make matters worse, when Kim called state airport officials to complain, they didn’t know about the price increase, which was instituted by the shuttle operator, SpeediShuttle, within 30 days of landing the five-year contract last year.

The price increase was added “for a few areas” on Oahu, Dan Meisenzahl, spokesman for the Department of Transportation, said yesterday.

State Transportation Department Deputy Director Ford Fuchigami ruefully acknowledged that he learned about the shuttle contractor’s price changes from Kim.

He said the state didn’t expect the company to make the price changes but acknowledged there was no language in the contract to prevent the move.

“We weren’t prepared to see a company (do that) within less than 30 days of getting a contract,” Fuchigami said.

He called SpeediShuttle officials into his office the same day he heard from Kim, he told the senator in a briefing session today.

Company officials “actually came from Maui” to meet with Fuchigami, he said.

Meisenzahl said the company has reverted to its former pricing structure.

And Fuchigami said state attorneys “are working to see that this doesn’t happen again.”

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Jim Dooley joined the Hawaii Reporter staff as an investigative reporter in October 2010. Before that, he has worked as a print and television reporter in Hawaii since 1973, beginning as a wire service reporter with United Press International. He joined Honolulu Advertiser in 1974, working as general assignment and City Hall reporter until 1978. In 1978, he moved to full-time investigative reporting in for The Advertiser; he joined KITV news in 1996 as investigative reporter. Jim returned to Advertiser 2001, working as investigative reporter and court reporter until 2010. Reach him at Jim@hawaiireporter.com

5 COMMENTS

  1. Transit in the State, through smaller outfits landing larger contracts, are pulling the leg of many citizenry that can least afford their questionable practices. It would seem, once the contract is landed, good behavior is relinquished soon after, to pillage the wallet of the unsuspecting, right HandiVan? Not so Handi, that!
    I hope Senator Kim will be able to right this wrong practice. I have my own wrong, to right for our citizenry that should not be required to relinquish medical confidentiality to any lay people (sans MD licensure) to get the transportation they need on the HandiVan, nor be required to go through a physical assessment to “Gauge both COGNITION, balance and gait all performed by non-MD licensed people, to get that ride on the HandiVan! HandiVan never pays attention to the Treating Physician at all in the initial phase of application. Cannot get an application simply by asking for one, because all MUST go through required physical assessment and sign away release of medical confidentiality to these lay people of the HandiVan. The least they could do is, HIRE A DOCTOR if they wish to practice medicine in giving physical assessments without licensure!

  2. when i worked at the airport it always seemed that speedy shuttle was getting special treatment from the airport, airport staff and security would assist speedy shuttle drivers with their customers while not helping and somtimes obstructing other vendors, they would also solicit business for speedy shuttle? Speedy shuttle drivers would not follow traffic rules, i witnessed security not enforcing airport rules when it came to Speedy Shuttle?

  3. How absolutely unprofessional of our State and City employees. This happens far, far, far too often.

    Just because a consequence isn’t planned for doesn’t mean it cannot be anticipated.

    One just has to wonder whether these civil servants are really that stupid or whether they get bribes to leave these loopholes open and how many other loopholes there are in local government contracts for paving, construction, procurement, union contracts, HECO and……………YIKES!!!!……………the Rail Contract.

    I was once involved with a NPO as a supporter that hired an Executive Director, one of six during my relationship with them over half a decade. They gave him a $10k relocation fee and, despite having several lawyers on the board of directors, they never stipulated a repayment default in case he left. As such, he came, moving over all of his belongings and girlfriend, and promptly quit before the year was up. The bottom-line isnt about mainlanders. It is about local leaders not doing their job professionally and adequately. Heads should roll and our government should not be in the business of granting monopolies. Open up all taxi, handi-van and shuttles up to supply and demand and I think the public would benefit from lower prices and better service. These artificial prices benefit these companies and politicians that are against opening this process up reveal whose side they are on.

    In private business when a mistake of this magnitude is made heads would roll. However, in civil service they get promoted or retire on Friday and start work as a contractor or appointee on Monday.

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