Life is Good – Not So Fine

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Screen shot 2012-03-14 at 1.01.55 PM Graphic courtesy of C. Slater (Projected Rail in Downtown Honolulu)

Not So fine
by Paul Berry for the Honolulu Weekly Diary

In March 2011, the City and County of Honolulu awarded a $1.4 billion rail car and operations contract to Ansaldo Honolulu JV. The award was issued after the state caught Ansaldo bidding on the city contract without a valid contractor’s license. Hawaii Revised Statute 444 requires that the first offense fine for doing business as a contractor without a license is $2,500 or 40 percent of the contract price, whichever is greater.

Since Ansaldo’s contract is $1.4 billion, the fine should have been $560 million. The state Regulated Industries Complaints Office (RICO) ignored what HRS444 requires, and, instead, arbitrarily fined Ansaldo $150,000. That illegally lower fine represents a loss of $559,850,000 to Hawaii taxpayers.

Moreover, unless the fine is reversed, the action sets a precedent that might allow other state officials to ignore the law. Following the rule of men and women instead of a rule of law, possibilities for corruption multiply. If we are going to allow individual state officials to haphazardly decide the amount of fines, why bother to have laws governing penalties?

Consequently, with the assistance of the Law Offices of Michael Jay Green, I have, on behalf of all state taxpayers, asked the First Circuit Court for declaratory relief and a writ of mandamus, which would force the Department of Commerce & Consumer Affairs (DCCA) and RICO to enforce HRS444 and to fine Ansaldo the correct amount, $560,000,000.

The declaratory judgment filing, submitted on Feb. 13, requires RICO, DCCA and Ansaldo to respond within 20 days, and a writ of mandamus forces a state official to carry out what is required by law. This particular suit is not a class action, but states that I have filed on behalf of all state taxpayers.

–Paul “Doc” Berry

(Doc Berry has co-written a number of films, videos, and the book, “Waikiki in the Wake of Dreams” with me. He adds, “This piece just published today. In a few days we’ll get responses from the defendants.”) We do try to provide multiple points of view on an issue. For more on RAIL visit

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