Toby Martyn is resigning from the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation board after serving as its chairman for nearly the past two years.
HART made the announcement via press release Friday afternoon, simply stating that Martyn had decided to step down for “personal reasons.”
Reached by phone, Martyn said he was busy picking up a friend from the airport and that he wouldn’t be available to discuss the matter later. He hung up when pressed for further details on his departure from Hawaii’s largest-ever public works project, whose cost has more than doubled in the past decade.
Nonetheless, his resignation comes as the board continues to face scrutiny for its questionable handling of two recent consultant contract awards, including one that went to Colleen Hanabusa, Hawaii’s former U.S. representative and the HART board’s former chairwoman.
Hanabusa in May declined her consultancy contract award and opted to fill a seat that was opening up on the board instead. She had served as its chair in 2016 before returning to Congress.
Emails obtained by Civil Beat via a public records request last month showed that Martyn, several other board leaders and HART interim Director Lori Kahikina planned to hire Hanabusa and Honolulu rail’s previous federal lobbyist, Denis Dwyer, before the required competitive bidding process occurred.
The Hawaii Senate’s lone Republican member has called on federal authorities to investigate the matter. The state Office of Information Practices is examining whether board members violated the Sunshine Law in discussing their preference for Hanabusa and Dwyer outside of their public meetings.
No resignation letter or correspondence was provided Friday. HART spokesman Joey Manahan said that Martyn informed the board that he was leaving and then contacted Kahikina to let her know.
“For the short amount of time I was able to work with Toby, I can see that he is extremely passionate about the project. He has done an excellent job leading the HART Board and I will miss working with him,” Kahikina said in the HART statement.
Manahan said that she didn’t have further comment at this point.
Martyn first joined the board in 2017 as one of its first non-voting legislative appointees. In 2018 he filled a vacant voting seat, and then the volunteer board selected him in September 2019 to serve as chair.
His term was slated to expire in 2023. The board will discuss the process to select an appointee to replace him on the board at its July 30 meeting, according to the HART press release.
The board shakeup follows an overhaul of the HART staff. Kahikina took over as interim executive director in January after the Martyn-led board declined to renew Andrew Robbins’ contract as HART executive director.
Under Kahikina, HART has sacked about half of its staff — a cost-saving move that Kahikina said made sense since so little rail construction is currently happening.
It’s not clear who will ultimately replace Martyn as chairman.
Hoyt Zia, the board’s vice chair, said via the HART statement that Martyn “exemplifies what it means to be a selfless, public-minded, dedicated volunteer serving the community.”
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