The HART meeting just wrapped up with an Interesting conversation, as labor leader Maurice Morita told the Board of Directors that they should be putting pressure on the Honolulu City Council to reinstate the funding they cut from the rail construction budget last week.

Morita, who’s assistant director of the Hawaii Laborers-Employers Cooperation and Education Trust, said he’s already started trying to wrangle enough votes to put the $292 million back in the capital budget when the Budget Committee meets again.

That’s hardly unexpected, but the response from HART board member William “Buzz” Hong was noteworthy. He said he followed rail closely in the 1990s, when it died by one vote at the council. He said unions went after those who voted rail down, and that it’s important to twist arms and elect people who will be friendly to the project.

Hong’s a union leader too — former executive director of the Hawaii Building and Construction Trades Council, per his official bio. But considering HART was supposed to take rail one step away from politics, is it appropriate for members to talk about influencing City Council decision and elections?

I’ll update this post with some of the juicier quotes when I get back to my desk.