City's rail rendering
City's rail rendering

BY MALIA ZIMMERMAN – Honolulu City Council Member Tom Berg (District 1 -‘Ewa, Kapolei, Waianae Coast) is outraged the city administration has issued the rights to real estate acquisitions and other real estate related work along the designated rail route to a mainland firm.

An April 23, 2012 letter to Berg from Daniel Grabauskas, CEO of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation, confirmed the deal made with the Paragon Partners Ltd,  a privately held, certified woman-owned California corporation. The company, established in 1993, claims it is “one of the leading Right of Way and Real Estate consulting firms in the nation.” See the letter here: April 23, 2012 HART Real Estate Acquisition letter

Grabauskas said the procurement was a “two-step request for proposals” and selection was based on “Best Value.”

He added: “Because portions of the work may be funded with federal assistance, the solicitations compiled with applicable Federal Transit Administration terms and conditions which prohibit the use of geographic preferences.”

Berg said this is another example of jobs going to the mainland.

“Can’t find a realtor in Hawaii? Are you kidding me?” Berg said.

“For HART to claim no one in the realtor business locally was qualified and could not meet the specs needed to advance and administer property acquisition for the rail is odd,” Berg said.

Other rail contracts have gone to mainland and European firms, which are using out of state workers, despite promises the rail would create up an average of 5,000 jobs per year in Hawaii, and as many as 17,000 in its peak year.

“This is a case where the workers on the bench are thinking rail will employ them, but they are left behind once again,” Berg said.

Hawaii Reporter requested information on the mainland real estate contract since April 11, 2012, but still has not received a response, a copy of the contract or any details.