As board decides whether to replace him, HART board member says he is being “punished” for his opinions


HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – Honolulu City Council will vote on Tuesday on whether to replace a controversial voice on the rail authority’s board of directors: Member Joseph Uno.

Uno, engineering consultant and president / founder of J. Uno & Associates, was appointed to the board last summer to serve the remainder of the term of former board member John Henry Felix.

Now he says he’s being kicked out because of his opinions.

“I think I just feel like someone shouldn’t be punished for being honest and open, and for asking tough questions,” said Uno, whose appointment ended in June.

He says he hoped to be kept on the board at a critical time for the project.

In February, Uno spoke out in favor of stopping the rail project before it reached Ala Moana.

“It doesn’t have to be Middle Street, it could be Lagoon Drive,” Uno said. “It could be Kalihi station a little further down the road, down the road from Dillingham where there are a lot of buses.”

Kalihi city councilor Radiant Cordero, who chairs the transport, sustainability and health committee, proposed a resolution to replace Uno with community activist and filmmaker Anthony Aalto.

Aalto says he was part of a group investigating the rail.

“What I would like to think about is that I have been a constructive critic, not a negative critic,” Aalto said.

“This is something that I think is important for all the reasons I have explained, we have to try to finish it in such a way that the route makes sense for people to actually ride.”

Aalto said he has an alternative plan in mind that won’t cost taxpayers a dime.

“And that would be for the city to end its part somewhere in Iwalei, and from Aala Park, to go underground under the city,” Aalto said. “Come over to the Diamond Head side of Thomas Square, and from there to UH, there is so much potential for development.”

The city council vote comes amid other shuffles within the board.

Last month, Colleen Hanabusa replaced Glenn Nohara, engineer and entrepreneur.

Now they are looking to fill the post of Toby Martyn, who resigned from the board a few weeks ago after several controversies.

Uno is concerned that the city council will bring in people who do not have the right experience.

“Just a handful of people with some sort of technical or construction background on the board,” Uno said. “And I was hoping as an independent voice with certain qualifications that would be considered necessary for a board member.”

Copyright 2021 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.

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