Rail Coloring Books, Other Promotional Items Distributed by Honolulu Rail Authority, ‘Abuse of Taxpayers Money’

Coloring book the city's rail authority is distributing to Oahu's youth
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Coloring book the city's rail authority is distributing to Oahu's youth

BY MALIA ZIMMERMAN – What about those now notorious coloring books that the city’s Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transit Administration (HART) has been distributing to Oahu’s children to promote the Honolulu rail project?

Former Gov. Ben Cayetano, who is running for Honolulu Mayor, said yesterday during a press conference that in his 28 years in public office, he “has never seen anything like it.”


“This is unprecedented,” Cayetano said, noting hats, shirts, lanyards, pens and pencils promoting the rail project have been handed out at various city events courtesy of Oahu taxpayers.

“Why is no one trying to put a stop to this abuse of taxpayers money? This is an indication of how reckless the city is spending taxpayer money – spending for them is not a problem,” Cayetano said of HART. He said the agency, which also has rented prime office space in Downtown Honolulu at a cost of what will soon be $2 million a year, appears to have a “fountain of money” and is spending it “Willy Nilly.”

Coloring book the city's rail authority is distributing to Oahu's youth

HART, the semi autonomous agency charged with constructing, maintaining and overseeing the city’s planned 20-mile $5.3 billion elevated steel on steel rail project, developed, printed and distributed the coloring books for $2,633, HART spokesman Scott Ishikawa told Hawaii Reporter last week.

The coloring book encourages children to “connect the rail stations” for the first 21 stations on the initial part of the 10-mile route in a “connect the dots” kind of format, offers a word search related to rail and suggests children log onto an interactive youth web site – https://www.movingusforward – that promotes the rail.

The cost for designing the brochure and for other promotional items and the web site creation, hosting and maintenance has not yet been disclosed.

Honolulu Council Member Tom Berg earlier expressed his concern during two recent city budget hearings about the coloring books distributed to Oahu youth and web site – he called them “propaganda.”

HART maintains the coloring books are educational. “The children activity sheets distributed at public events are meant to engage the keiki so they can learn more about the rail project,” Ishikawa said.

Berg countered that many of the statements in the coloring book and on the kids rail web site are not factual.





  1. That $2,633 probably went to a private business that pays taxes to support bloated government pensions and healthcare. In coloring book terms, kind of like a fat pig calling ‘feeding a skinny dog’ a waste of food. It’s OK to take that business money in taxes but then shut them out of the largest part of the financial ecosystem?

  2. The Promotional Products industry produces approximately $17 Billion in sales to businesses who employ over 150,000 people across all 50 states. The State of Hawaii it is estimated at over $7 Million through nearly 100 businesses across all the Islands, and employs over 300 people. This number is much, much larger, when it comes to the products that companies and organizations use, as a part of bringing Conventions and Visitors to Hawaii, that are purchased on the Mainland, then delivered to Hawaiian Visitors as a part of Meetings, Conventions and via retail outlets in Hawaii.

    Personally, having worked with a number of providers in the Honolulu area, on such projects as the Convention and Visitors Bureau, Hotels and Hospitality industry, I am very aware that the Promotional Industry is an important part of the Meetings and Convention Business that Hawaii relies so much on. My company produces annually the Aloha Showcase, that gets together Hawaiian professionals with manufactures.

    To say that Promotional Products are “abusing taxpayers’ money,” I would refer you to the US Census Bureau who by the use of Promotional Products, helped deliver the the Census, on time and under budget. And the Census is an important part of every one of our 50 States.

  3. It so happens that there IS a lot of confusion about the differences and similarities between letters of recommendation letters and letters of reference. For instance; which is which, and why? How are they different? In what ways are they similar? This article clarifies that confusion.

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