Letter: The Public Had the Their Chance on the TMT

I’ve followed the Thirty Meter Telescope public vetting process over the past seven years. The unprecedented public protests against this project caused me to write this commentary.

The public had equal opportunity to give comments about this telescope
project. It underwent an extended contested case hearing process before the Board of Land and Natural Resources granted the conservation district use permit in 2013. In addition, Governor Lingle accepted the FEIS in 2010. There was a 60 day window to contest the FEIS after acceptance. No one stepped forward to do this during that window.

The hearing officer determined the Thirty Meter Telescope met all eight criteria to develop their project in the conservation district. In addition, he noted the Hawaii Administrative Rules #13-5-24c permits the construction of astronomy facilities in the conservation district, as long there is a management plan in place.

In short, the Thirty Meter Telescope Corporation has bent over backwards
to address all concerns about their project over the last seven years.
This is why it would be huge mistake to revoke their vested permits after they’ve been granted. The TMT relied on these permits to start construction on their telescope.

The possible revocation of their legally obtained permits would bring up eerie parallels to the Hokuli’a project in South Kona. Judge Ibarra invalidated their permits after four years of construction and after Oceanside spent 350 million dollars on their project. However, the big difference between these two project is the fact TMT followed the law when obtaining their entitlements, Oceanside (Hokuli’a) did not.

Judge Ibarra placed an injunction on Hokulia project for 2.5 years until a settlement agreement allowed construction to resume in 2006. I foresee a similar scenario happening with the TMT project. The Mauna Kea stakeholders need to reach a global settlement that would allow construction to resume on this telescope.

The Mauna Kea Comprehensive Management Plan contains an excellent framework to get this process started. For example, the TMT will be last new telescope on Mauna Kea. All new telescope projects after the TMT will recycle existing sites. However, I believe any global settlement needs to go further.

The University Hawaii and the other owners of the Mauna Kea telescopes
should reevaluate the telescope decommissioning plan for the science reserve area. The Hawaii Tribune Herald reported the United Kingdom Infrared Telescope, James Maxwell Clerk Telescope and Very Low Baseline Array are facing possible decommissioning before the Mauna Kea science reserve master lease expires in 2033. This is on top of the scheduled decommissioning of the Caltech Submillimeter Observatory slated to begin 2016.

The University of Hawaii also needs to indefinitely delay any attempts to extend the master lease for the science reserve area. The current lease expires in 2033, which means all telescopes on Mauna Kea face decommissioning between 2025 and 2033.

The university naturally wants the lease extended another 65 years.I believe more discussion between all Mauna Kea stakeholders is necessary before this proposal moves forward. If this doesn’t happen, the University of Hawaii risks turning an ugly situation into something uglier.

Mauna Kea’s telescopes have contributed 92 million dollars of direct economic impact in Hawaii County per year. This figure cannot be understated. If all the Mauna Kea telescopes were removed, it would be a huge economic hit to this island.

This is another reason why all the Mauna Kea stakeholders need to come to together and discuss a mutually agreeable plan for Mauna Kea’s future. These discussion need to occur in a face to face environment and not through social media. The latter has poisoned all civil discussion regarding the Thirty Meter Telescope project and future of Mauna Kea.

Aaron Stene

2nd Graders Publish Book on Plantation Life

From Larry Czerwonka Publishing:

Second Grade students at Kalaianaole Elementary in Papaikou have teamed up with Larry Czerwonka Publishing to release their book, “A Day at the Hawai‘i Plantation Museum.” The book is a collaborative effort of writing, illustrations, and photographs between about 25 students, alumni, and teachers, along with the staff and volunteers at the Hawai‘i Plantation Museum (hawaiiplantationmuseum.org).

The hope is that this book will inform and educate readers about plantation life and maybe spark some conversations at home about a way of life that was once common on Hawai‘i Island. The book tells the reader some of the history and cultures of plantation life as seen through the eyes of the students. “We wanted to not only show the students photographs and items from the plantations, but we also wanted them to interview people about Plantation Life. We also encouraged the students to ask family members what they recall about growing up in and around the plantation,” says Cynthia Inouye, who is the students’ second grade teacher.

The idea to write a book started after Cynthia Inouye attended a meeting where Larry Czerwonka talked about his publishing company and how they had a program for helping teachers and students write and publish books.

“I love giving back,” says Publisher Larry Czerwonka. “Helping students go from being readers to published authors is something I am very passionate about.” Everyone involved in the project says the book will do more than just record a social studies assignment. “We believe this book will inspire students to ask more questions about how things used to be,” says Jean Wence, a retired teacher involved with the project. “There is a wealth of knowledge in our kupuna not just about how things were but about many other things as well. We hope this experience gets the students excited about talking story with their elders.” “

A Day at the Hawai‘i Plantation Museum” at larryczerwonka.com/books/museum.asp or by using the Bitly link: bit.ly/1yzeNXe

Resident Tased for Drone Use at National Park

A visitor at the Jaggar Museum overlook was Tased and arrested by by a park ranger after allegedly using a drone illegally within park boundaries.  At around 10 p.m. on Saturday, April 25,  a park ranger  observed Travis RaySan ders, a 35-year-old Pahoa resident, operating a small quad-copter drone at the overlook next to Jaggar Museum. According to National Park spokesperson Jessica Ferracane, the ranger “contacted” the individual, who refused to identify himself and attempted to flee the scene. The Officer then used his Taser to subdue the suspect and took him into custody.  He was arrested for failure to comply with a lawful order and for interfering with agency functions, and taken for the night to the county detention center.  He was released on signature bond on Sunday morning. The the drone was returned to suspect’s family.

According to Ferracane,  the National Park System released rules last June making it illegal to operate an unmanned flying vehicle in any national park. The penalty for violating that rule is up to  six months in jail and a $5,000 fine


National Park Copes with Visitor Overload as Lava Rises in Halemaumau

From the National Park Service:

Thousands of additional visitors are flocking to Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park to witness the large lava lake steadily rise at the summit of K?lauea volcano.

Over the last several days, visitors waited up to 30 minutes or longer to park. To ease traffic once the Jaggar Museum and K?lauea Overlook parking lots fill up, rangers are currently redirecting vehicles during peak visitation hours to park at the K?lauea Military Camp ball field. From there, visitors can hike one mile to the Jaggar Museum observation deck, the closest and best vantage point to view the spectacular lava lake.

“Visitors should come prepared to ensure a safe and enjoyable park experience,” said Superintendent Cindy Orlando. “We encourage people to avoid peak hours, and arrive after 10 p.m. and before 4 a.m. if possible, or they will likely wait in line for parking. The park remains open 24 hours a day,” she said.

Tips for an optimal viewing experience:

• Be prepared to hike one mile each way between K?lauea Military Camp ball field and the Jaggar Museum observation deck on Crater Rim Trail. Wear sturdy closed-toe shoes, bring rain gear, water, binoculars, a flashlight, and extra batteries.
• Carpool if possible to reduce the number of vehicles in the parking areas.
• As a courtesy to other visitors, no “tailgating” in the Jaggar Museum or K?lauea Overlook parking lots. Choose another picnic location so others have a chance to view the eruption.
• To observe viewing and weather conditions, monitor the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory webcams. The KI camera provides a panoramic view of Halema‘uma‘u Crater from HVO.
• High levels of dangerous sulfur dioxide (SO2) gas and volcanic ash can be blown over Jaggar Museum by southerly winds. These gases are a danger to everyone, particularly to people with heart or respiratory problems, young children and pregnant women. K?lauea Visitor Center offers updates on air quality 24 hours a day, and visitors can monitor the Hawaii SO2 network website.

In addition, the public is reminded that park entrance fees apply and that the use of unmanned aircraft (drones) is prohibited in all national parks.

The Jaggar Museum has a limited number of parking stalls for handicapped persons. If those stalls are full, then those driving with  handicapped or elderly passengers or with small children can either drop them off in the Jagger parking lot or ask for assistance with one of the rangers on duty.

Hawaii News — Big Island Press Club Scholarship Dinner Slated for Thursday, May 28; Award-winning Comedian Augie T is Evening’s Guest Speaker

Augie T
(Media release) — The Big Island Press Club’s annual scholarship dinner will be held at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 28 at Hilo’s Seaside Restaurant where we will honor our 2015 scholarship recipients and feature award-winning comedian Augie T. as the guest speaker. Read more

Mauna Kea Hui Responds to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs

To be clear, the Mauna Kea Hui was not invited to this meeting until only yesterday and only after OHA had released its Press Statement claiming we would be in attendance. So we have produced this statement in response.
It is the position of the Hui that we will to uphold the wishes of our Kupuna, those who came before us, such as Uncle Genesis Leeloy, Aunty Leina’ala Apiki McCord, Aunty Kamakahukilani Von Oelhoffen and so many more…because they are who moved us to stand for Mauna Kea so many years ago– their message was clear — enough is enough—there shall be no further development on Mauna Kea!
While the Mauna Kea Hui will continue to litigate in the courts, and has been adjudicated to have standing to do so, there is also a higher court here and we stand with our Kupuna in asserting the following positions for the protection of Mauna Kea:
1. The TMT construction shall be halted and any new leases and/or subleases previously issued by BLNR allowing the TMT to be built and that are currently being challenged must be revoked and/or rescinded forever.
2. The observatories currently operating on Mauna Kea shall pay fair market lease rent now and until the end of the general lease in 2033.
3. No further development shall be allowed in any way, shape, or form and upon the decommissioning of observatories or the current general lease has ended there must be complete clean-up and restoration of the Mauna to its original state and condition as the general lease requires. There shall be no rocks, soils or other materials displaced or removed from the Mauna.
4. We will consider working with State Official to help find solutions for: the protection of Mauna Kea waters and aquifers, clean-up, and restoration of the Mauna, to insure the “right-holders” (those who the laws are written to protect such as Native Hawaiians and the General Public) have a seat at the table of decision making and lastly we are committed to help to ensure educational opportunities and funds for all the children of Hawai`i are upheld and protected.
OHA … our beloved Mauna Kea is NOT for sale! In Aloha We Remain,
Paul K. Neves, Clarence Ku Ching, Debbie J. Ward, Mauna Kea Anaina Hou, Kealoha Pisciotta, and the Flores-Case ‘Ohana and KAHEA: The Hawaiian Environmental Alliance.

Press Release: OHA Facilitates Mauna Kea Meeting

HONOLULU – The Office of Hawaiian Affairs has arranged for a meeting tomorrow (April 24) for representatives from the Governor’s office, the University of Hawai?i, the Office of Mauna Kea Management, the Mauna Kea Hui, the Mauna Kea ?Ohana, and OHA to discuss the thirty-meter telescope planned for Mauna Kea.

“We are glad that the Mauna Kea ?Ohana will participate in the discussions to convey their own positions and perspectives. With the different parties coming together in shared conversation, we believe this will bring greater understanding for everyone—an important first step in efforts aimed at finding resolution,” said OHA Chairperson Robert K. Lindsey Jr.

“All parties are genuinely interested in hearing from one another and connecting he alo a he alo, face-to-face. The in-person communication allows us to convey more than just information. You can see and sense a lot in the presence of others—such important things as honesty, commitment, respect, and aloha. These are vital for problem solving,” said OHA Chief Executive Officer Kamana?opono Crabbe.

The OHA Board of Trustees are calling a special meeting to discuss its position on Mauna Kea and the Thirty Meter Telescope on April 30.

The trustees had originally filed an agenda with the Lt. Governor’s office scheduling the meeting for May 7. However, after discussion by the board of trustees, Chair Robert Lindsey, Jr. agreed to move up the date of the meeting to April 30.

Commentary: We’re Back

Aloha. Our apologies for the lack of posts this week. It’s been a lonnnnng four days.

On April 20, our Web site crashed. Bruce, our Webmaster, has been working tirelessly since then but with only glacial cooperation from our Web host, a company called hostgator.com. At the end, we solved the problem and then dumped the ‘gator. Now we’re back with a new, local host–and a new sponsor.  Say hello to Netcom Enterprises.

Now, if we have a problem, we can just call Jeff Gray in Kea’au–and we always like to support local businesses anyway, so it’s great to have found an alternative so close to home.

Thanks for getting us up, Jeff.

We haven’t been idle in the mean time.  Look for a new print edition of the Chronicle out soon, with a long piece about the mess on Mauna Kea–it’s NOT just about science vs. religion–and lots of other good stuff.

–Alan McNarie

Mauna Kea Hui Responds to Gov. Ige’s April 17 Announcement

Aloha. Mahalo for coming to this press conference and for all your diligence and hard work in reporting this evolving and momentous story now unfolding in Hawai?i.
First, let me say that we are deeply moved and gratified by the overwhelming public support we’ve received from throughout the archipelago and across the globe—from people of all ethnicity in Hawai?i and people from many countries and cultures around the world. Aloha Nui…Aloha Nui!
In regard to Governor David Ige’s April 17 statement on the TMT controversy, we want to thank the Governor and his staff for acknowledging—and respecting—the Mauna Kea Hui’s right to appeal through our court system wrongful decisions made by the State, and in so doing seeking  justice.
We also appreciate the Governor’s recognition of two important tasks ahead: the decommissioning and removal of older telescopes “to restore the summit” of our sacred mountain—something we’ve long called for—and “reducing the level of activity on the summit,” which now bustles with intrusive observatory traffic and and cultures around the world. Aloha Nui…Aloha Nui!
We also appreciate the Governor’s recognition of two important tasks ahead: the decommissioning and removal of older telescopes “to restore the summit” of our sacred mountain—something we’ve long called for—and “reducing the level of activity on the summit,” which now bustles with intrusive observatory traffic and commercial tour operators.
We called this Press Conference, however, to address some of our continued concerns:
To deliver our Protect Mauna Kea petition now with over 53,000 thousand signatures signed by Mauna Kea Supporters from Hawai`i and beyond…
First, we flew from Hawai`i Island to deliver to Governor Ige our Protect Mauna Kea Petition that has over 53,000 signatures of Mauna Kea supporters from Hawai`i and beyond. The Petition count is still rolling and will continue to roll. What these signatures show is that there is an awakening …awakening of Aloha and it is far reaching. The awakening not just a Hawaiian issue or a local issue it is a global issues—and it is not about us versus them—or even about winning or losing. It is about re-visioning how we want to live in the world—we are the children of Papah?naumoku (Earth Mother) and Wakea (Sky Father) and we want to live in harmony within our world and to do this we must change the way we live for our children and our children’s children so they will have a place on Earth and a future.  This is Aloha `Aina!
We’re asking Governor Ige to intervene on behalf of the Mauna Kea 31
Second, we are distressed that the Governor in his April 17 message said nothing about our brothers and sisters—the Mauna Kea 31—who were arrested on April 2 trying to protect their mountain from further desecration. These people are scheduled to be arraigned on various charges on April 28 and May 7. We call on the Governor to intervene on behalf of the protectors by insisting that enforcement officials of his own Department of Land and Natural Resources drop the charges, and by asking the Hawai?i County Prosecutor to do the same.
Labeling as criminal those peaceful acts of civil assistance (not disobedience, in that we were preventing the TMT construction workers from committing the crime of desecration under HRS 711-1107), and acts done out of love to protect the mountain, insults Hawai?i’s long traditions of aloha, compassion, and respect. What is perhaps most egregious is that these acts of protection are being so labelled in order to protect a special interest corporation from California and abroad.
Governor Ige’s Attorney General appointment has a Mauna Kea conflict of interest.
We called this press conference to ask the Governor to withdraw his nomination of Mr. Doug Chin for State Attorney General because of his deeply troubling conflict of interest in the adjudication of our Mauna Kea appeals. He was the managing partner of the law firm Carlesmith Ball LLP,  the very law firm that is representing the University of Hawai’i and the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT Project) in our current lawsuits. This is completely unreasonable and sends a message that nothing has changed and it is business as usual—a position you have tried to change. Now is that time for that change Mr. Ige. We call on you to withdraw Doug Chin’s appointment or to appoint a special Deputy AG who does not have such a conflict to review the Mauna Kea situation. Because Mr. Ige, this simply will not work.
Aloha and Mahalo, Ms. Kealoha Pisciotta, primary spokesperson for the Mauna Kea Hui and Mauna Kea ‘Ohana
Contact Person is Ms. Kealoha Pisciotta at keomaivg@gmail.com

Governor Ige’s April 17 Statement Re The Thirty Meter Telescope

Today, the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) leadership informed me that construction will continue to be postponed. Any further announcements about the construction schedule will come from TMT.

My understanding is that TMT followed an almost 7 year planning and permitting process, which included public hearings and community input. Following this process, project permits were issued. The TMT team is legally entitled to use its discretion to proceed with construction.

I understand that not everyone will agree with this and recognize and respect their right to appeal through the court system.

We have used this time to listen and learn about Maunakea from various stakeholders. I learned about other issues that need our attention to create and implement a better plan for the stewardship of Maunakea. This may include:

  • Decommissioning and removing older telescopes and facilities to restore the summit
  • Reducing the level of activity on the summit
  • Integrating culture and science

My administration will be working with the University of Hawai‘i, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, and the community to actively pursue these outcomes.

Volunteer Photographer Needed for Homeless Children’s Summer Camp

Project Hawai’i, Inc. is a nonprofit organization run 100% by volunteers and solely supported by public donations. We provide a FREE summer camp for homeless and poverty stricken keiki. Our agency is seeking a VOLUNTEER photographer that would like to attend our summer camp and help us document the whole “story”. We would love to have a short film made, or at least lots of photos to put together a story that will help us document our progress and hopefully allow us to gain more supporters.

Our summer camp is a sleepover camp, and we can provide you with full accommodations and meals in exchange for your volunteer service. Plus we can provide you with a full tax deduction for your services if needed. If you are not able to stay for the entire camp, but can come a few days, etc…that too is fine. We can work out the details.

Our summer camp provides these children with life changing opportunities that help them to escape their cycle of poverty. It is vital part of our overall success!! Unfortunetly we are just not able to reach out to the community and get the support needed to run the camp as it should be. We are hoping to put together a 20 minute video we can submit to public access tv and maybe obtain supporters that way.

This is a wonderful opportunity for a student who is trying to build their resume, or a photographer that is expanding their knowledge, etc.

We will need you to be able to transfer all the photos/video taken at the camp before you leave, so we have a copy as well.

For more information, please feel free to contact us. Mahalo for your time.

This is a volunteer opportunity provided by VolunteerMatch, in partnership with LinkedIn for Good. If interested, you can apply via the LinkedIn notice here.

Legislature: Sex Traffickers Beware

A bill that would make pimping a felony and another that would establish a safe haven program for youthful abuse victims are among five public safety-relate bills that the State Senate bills that the State House of Representatives just approved:

SB265, SD1, HD1 replaces the term “promoting prostitution” with the term “sex trafficking,” a Class A felony, and includes the offense of sex trafficking in the Department of the Attorney General’s statewide witness program.

SB1211, SD1, HD1, relating to the Major Disaster Fund, would increase the expenditure ceiling on Major Disaster Fund moneys and require the Adjutant General to report any allotment of fund moneys or any expenditure of Fund moneys to the Legislature within one month of the allotment or expenditure.

SB871, SD1, HD3, relating to highway safety, authorizes the director of transportation to establish reciprocal licensing privileges to any person eighteen years of age or older who holds a license from another jurisdiction, under certain conditions.

SB979, SD2, HD1, requires the Office of Youth Services to coordinate a Safe Places for Youth Pilot Program until June 30, 2021. It would also establish a Safe Places for Youth Program Coordinator position. The bill would allow youth in crisis–including victims of family violence, school bullying and predatory adults– who are at least 14 but under 18 years of age to consent to accept services in the Pilot Program under certain circumstances.


Legislature: Let the Homeless Drive Legally

The Hawaii House of Representatives has now approved a Senate bill that would eliminate a major legal roadblock, literally, for the homeless.

SB273, SD2, HD2 addresses a a major problem for those who are homeless but otherwise eligible to drive: they needed to supply a address to the driver’s license examiner.   The bill requires the examiner to  “to accept a sworn statement from a victim services organization, an attorney, a member of the clergy, correctional institution staff, a medical or health professional, or a verification letter from a homeless service provider as documentary evidence of a homeless person’s address.  The bill would also” waive all fees for homeless individuals” and would set up a “working group to enable homeless individuals in the State to obtain necessary documentary evidence.”

House Passes Health Bills

The State House of Representatives has voted to pass several dozen bills that crossed over from the Senate.  Among them are several bills related to health, including on that would create a statewide system for dispensing medical marijuana, and another that establishes a “mini-PLDC” for medical procurement.

SB682, SD2, HD1, relating to medical marijuana. Establishes a regulated system of medical marijuana dispensaries and production centers. Specifies that the number of licensed dispensaries and production centers increase gradually over an initial phase-in period. Prohibits counties from enacting zoning regulations or rules that prohibit the use of land for licensed dispensaries and production centers.
SB1228, SD2, HD3 establishes a process for special innovative procurement and generates a framework for public-private partnership in Hawaii. Appropriates funds for a temporary position to assist the Procurement Policy Board. Appropriates funds for the Hawaii Health Systems Corporation to procure services to develop a master plan for the Samuel Mahelona Memorial Hospital and Kauai Veterans Memorial Hospital.

SB1291, SD2, HD2, relating to medical marijuana. Prohibits discrimination against medical marijuana patients and caregivers by schools, landlords, courts with regard to medical care or parental rights, employers, planned community associations, condominium property regimes, and condominiums.

SB964, SD2, HD1, relating to aging. Appropriates funds for the Kupuna Care Program and the Aging and Disability Resource Center. Requires appointment of an Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia services coordinator no later than July 1, 2017. Appropriates funds for the Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia services coordinator, fall prevention and early detection services for the elderly, the Healthy Aging Partnership Program, and an Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia public awareness campaign.

SB1028, SD2, HD1, relating to the Hawaii Health Connector. Attempts to harmonize requirements of the federal Affordable Care Act with the Hawaii Prepaid Health Care Act by implementing federal requirements for provider network adequacy through requiring that insurer contracts with federally-qualified health centers. Authorizes other means of generating revenue through provision of benefits administration services.

SB1338, SD2, HD1, relating to the Hawaii Health Connector. Authorizes large group insurance coverage under the Connector. Beginning Oct. 1, 2016, ends authorization to renew or issue transitional renewal policies. Requires notice to group health plans that offer continuation of coverage about options for affordable coverage under the Connector, in addition to the requirements under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (COBRA).

SB1117, SD2, HD1, relating to Hawaii Health Systems Corporation. Makes an emergency appropriation to support the functions of the Hawaii Health Systems Corporation.

SB1095, SD1, HD1, relating to health insurance. Defines the term “habilitative services” to be included in health care services, including but not limited to physical and occupational therapy, speech-language therapy, speech and swallowing therapy, applied behavior analysis, medical equipment, orthotics, and prosthetics, that help a person keep, learn, or improve skills and functioning for daily living.

SB791, SD1, HD2, relating to autism spectrum disorders. Requires health insurers, mutual benefit societies, and health maintenance organizations to provide insurance coverage for the diagnosis and treatment of autism.

SB1036, SD2, HD1, relating to substance abuse treatment. Establishes within the Department of Health a working group to address publicly-funded substance abuse treatment services. Appropriates funds.

SB768, SD1, HD1, relating to in vitro fertilization insurance coverage. Provides in vitro fertilization insurance coverage equality for women who are diagnosed with infertility by making available to them expanded treatment options, ensuring adequate and affordable health care services.

SB1032, SD2, HD2, relating to tobacco products. Expands the definition of “tobacco products” to include tobacco-free products containing nicotine that are intended for human consumption. Increases the license fee for wholesalers or dealers of cigarettes or tobacco products. Increases the retail tobacco permit fee for retailers engaged in the retail sale of cigarettes and tobacco products.

SB1030, SD1, HD2, relating to health. Increases the minimum age for the sale or possession of a tobacco product in a public place, and the sale or furnishing of a tobacco product, from 18 to 21. Defines “tobacco products” to include electronic smoking devices.