Joey Manahan, whose term on the Honolulu City Council expired last month, has a new job. The former Kalihi Councilman and state Legislator is now the government relations and public involvement director for the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation.

Manahan started at HART on Monday, according to the agency’s new executive director, Lori Kahikina. His new role will include tracking city and state legislation for the rail agency and preparing testimony.

His hiring is the latest in a shakeup at the rail agency, where former top leadership generally aligned with former Mayor Mufi Hannemann has been replaced with officials generally close to a more recent former mayor, Kirk Caldwell. Kahikina served eight years as the city’s Environmental Services director under Caldwell and Manahan was often an ally of Caldwell while on council.

Honolulu City council member Joey Manahan speaks at Mayor Caldwell’s rail plan press conference held at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport parking garage.
Former Honolulu City Councilman Joey Manahan has joined HART. In October, while still on the council, he joined Mayor Kirk Caldwell at a press conference to call on the agency to withdraw from the public-private partnership effort. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2020

Manahan often scrutinized the rail project’s finances as the council’s budget chairman, and the Kalihi district he represented includes the biggest challenge to rail’s completion: Dillingham Boulevard. He also joined Caldwell last fall in calling for HART to swiftly cancel a public-private partnership effort after the city withdrew its participation.

Last year, as the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic worsened, Manahan pushed for HART to trim eight staff positions and $1.5 million from its annual operations budget. He aimed to reduce “duplicative” positions in the public involvement program, which Manahan now oversees.

On Thursday, Manahan said he’s still looking to streamline that program. Kahikina said that Manahan’s job will combine the duties performed by two former top HART officials ousted last month, former Director of Communications Bill Brennan and former Deputy Director for Government Relations and Public Involvement Joyce Oliveira.

Manahan will earn an annual salary of $120,000, Kahikina said.

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