During Wednesday's meeting of the Honolulu City Council, at least three members questioned how much money is being spent on a public outreach campaign for rail transit.
Toru Hamayasu, the interim executive director of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation, promised council members an "itemized breakdown" of how much has been spent so far.
HART spokesman Scott Ishikawa told KITV4 the amount of taxpayer funds spent
since 2005 was not immediately available, but would be forthcoming.
Some of the materials being distributed by HART about the $5.3 billion rail project include 3,000 copies of a coloring handout designed for young children. The handouts, called "Keiki Facts & Fun," cost the city $2,633, and are being distributed at various HART-sponsored events throughout Oahu.
In 2010, Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi revealed the city had spent nearly $5 million on public outreach efforts since 2005, but that figure has not been updated for the past year and a half.
Councilman Tom Berg also questioned the validity of some of the information being distributed by HART to the public. He pointed to glossy newsletters being mailed to households across Oahu every other month, as well as the coloring handout.
Berg said one of the 21 elevated rail stations on the handout for kids was listed as UH West Oahu, when in fact, no station will be built on the future University of Hawaii campus.
"This is pure propaganda, in my opinion," Berg said.
Hamayasu countered that the newsletters provide pertinent information to the public about rail transit, and dismissed Berg's claims of propaganda.
"We provide the answers through newsletters, (the) website and what have you," said Hamayasu. "That's our job, to provide you that information."