Council Resolution Against Citizens United Passes

A resolution by the County Council urging Congress to pass a Constitutional amendment declaring that corporations are not people and money is not speech passed the County Council today, but only after a lot of complaining by county councilors. Several councilors expressed reservations or outright opposition to the bill before it finally passed, 6-3.

Resolution 266-15 stemmed from Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which gutted protections against excessive corporate spending in elections. The resolution got overwhelming support from residents who testified on it.

“The vast majority of the American population is completely angry and completely alienated…. We will believe corporations are people when corporations are in prisons,” said one. Another noted that in the early days of the United States corporations “weren’t for profit. They were for a single project and they were terminated when the project was done,” and that the constitution had never mentioned them, much less granted them the status of legal human beings, as Citizens United and other Supreme Court decisions had.

State Senator Russell Ruderman, testifying for himself, urged the passage of the resolution. “The whole political system has become Obscene in terms of the cost of competing,” he noted. “They might as well put it on ESPN and call it a sport.”
“Giving corporations the same rights as citizens is the biggest single threat to our democracy,” testified Justin Avery. “…All of the hard work that was done in this county to build a healthy, vibrant democracy was shot down by a 5-4 court decision in the Washington, DC.”

But the testimony didn’t convince some council members.
“I will be voting no, not because I’m voting for crooked government…,”maintained Hilo Councilor Aaron Chung. “What I find wrong about this amendment is that it vilifies corporations…the main problem is that we have this wealth gap…. We see it even on this island, where the rich sometimes try to use their muscle. “ But at another point in his speech, he identified a different problem: “The problem isn’t the corporations, it’s the Super PACs” (enormously wealthy political action committees—which, one supporter of the amendment pointed out afterward, had been allowed to grow so huge and wealthy because of the Citizens United decision).

Councilor Daniel Paleka,   (Western Puna), said he was “taken aback” by Citizens United, but he identified another problem as more important: voter apathy caused by long election cycles: “If you look at American Politics from outside of America, many friends of mine from outside the states say the election period is just too damn long.”

Greggor Ilagan (Eastern Puna) echoed Chung’s comments, noting that the title of the bill singled out corporations as a culprit: “I will be voting no as well, but if you change that title, I will support it whole-heartedly.”

Dennis Onishi (South Hilo, Kea’au) and Chair Dru Kanuha (Portions of North and South Kona) also expressed some reservations about the bill, but still voted for it, as did Maile David (South Kona-Ka’u-Volcano), Valerie Poindexter, Margaret Wille (Kohala) and sponsor Karen Eoff (North Kona). A companion resolution, 267-15, which urges the Hawaii State Association of Cunties to also enact a resolution supporting the constitutional amendment, passed by a 7-2 margin after Ilagan switched sides.

Kawaihae Harbor Community Meeting

Representative Cindy Evans will be holding a meeting regarding South Kawaihae Recreational Harbor and North Kawaihae Recreational Harbor on Saturday September 19 from 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. at the Kawaihae Canoe Club. 

 Officials from the Department of Land and Natural Resources Boating Division will give an overview of the South Kawaihae Harbor and future plans for the North Kawaihae Harbor. Community input is encouraged and there will be a Q & A to follow.

 Some of the items that will be discussed are: damages from flooding, anything outstanding with the US Corps of Engineers, the boat ramp for South Boat Harbor, security measures, possibility of mooring buoys at South Boat Harbor, update on road, waterline, and master plan for South Kawaihae Harbor, breakwater at North Kawaihae harbor, needs for North Kawaihae Harbor, and storm water runoff at North Kawaihae Harbor

 Working with her Hawaii Island colleagues,  Evans shepherded a $400,000 appropriation this past legislative session for North Kawaihae Boat Harbor.

 “This meeting is an opportunity to identify what improvements are needed to make the harbor safe and more functional for the enjoyment of all who enjoy the ocean.  And I strongly encourage the public to come to the meeting to provide their thoughts on issues and priorities they feel are important for the harbor,” said Evans.

 Evans serves as House Majority Floor Leader and represents House District 7 (North Kona, South Kohala, and North Kohala).

Letter: Council Resolution would Support Amendment to Counter Citizen’s United

Dear One,

We worked HARD to get CLEAN ELECTIONS for our island. And it was GREAT! Now Karen Eoff is proposing a Resolution to get rid of Citizens United through the nationwide group: MOVETOAMEND.
Please come on Wed. Sept 2nd to the County building and testify in support of this resolution. Municipalities and states all over the nation are starting this groundwork to amend the US Constitution to clarify that Corporations are not “people” and that money is not speech. The future of our democracy depends on our getting this cleared up. Please pass on this message to your progressive friends. Aloha,

Noelie Rodriguez

Pepe`ekeo

 

Editor’s Note:  The Council meeting takes place in Hilo starting at 9 a.m. with live connections for video testimony at the Council’s satellite offices around the island.  Text of the resolution is below:

A RESOLUTION URGING HAWAI’I’S CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATION TO PROPOSE AND PASS AN AMENDMENT CLARIFYING THAT CORPORATIONS ARE NOT PEOPLE WITH CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS, AND THAT UNLIMITED CAMPAIGN SPENDING IS NOT FREE SPEECH.

WHEREAS, the United States Constitution was written and approved with the intention of protecting the rights of individual human beings (“natural persons”); and

WHEREAS, corporations are not mentioned in the Constitution, and the people of the Unites States (“The People”) have never granted constitutional rights to corporations, nor decreed that corporations have authority that exceeds the authority of The People; and

WHEREAS, the United States Supreme Court, in Austin v. Michigan Chamber of commerce (1990), recognized as a threat to a republican form of government “the corrosive and distorting effects of immense aggregations of wealth that are accumulated with the help of the corporate form and that have little or no correlation to the public’s support for the corporation’s political ideas”; and

WHEREAS, the United States Supreme Court in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (2010) (“Citizens United”) reversed the decision in Austin by rolling back legal limits on corporate spending in the electoral process and allowing unlimited corporate spending to sway votes and influence elections, candidate selection, and policy decisions; and

WHEREAS, the majority decision in Citizens United was recognized as a serious threat to self-government by the four dissenting justices. Corporations have special advantages not enjoyed by natural persons, such as limited liability, perpetual life, and favorable treatment of the accumulation and distribution of assets. These advantages allow them to amass and spend prodigious sums on campaign messages that often have far greater reach and influence than messages from individuals; and

WHEREAS, federal courts in Buckley v. Valeo (1976) and in SpeechNow.org v. FED (2010) overturned limits on independent expenditures because the “corruption or perception of corruption” rationale was only applicable to direct contributions to candidates; and

WHEREAS, Unites States Supreme Court in Justice Stevens observed in Nixon v. Shrink Missouri Government PAC (2000) that “money is property, it is not speech”; and

WHEREAS, Article V of the United States Constitution allows The People of the various states to amend the U.S. Constitution to correct those egregiously wrong decisions of the United States Supreme Court that challenge our democratic principles and the republican form of self-government; and

WHEREAS, there is widespread opposition to the Citizens United ruling that money is speech and that independent corporate campaign spending cannot be limited; now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED BY THE COUNCIL OF THE COUNTY OF HAWAI‘I that it urges Hawai’i’s congressional delegation to propose and pass an amendment clarifying that corporations are not people with constitutional rights, and that unlimited campaign spending is not free speech.

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that the County Clerk shall forward copies of this resolution to United States Senator Brian Schatz, United States Senator Mazie Hirono, United States Representative Mark Takai, United States representative Tulsi Gabbard, Mayor Bernard P. Carvalho, Jr., Governor David Y. Ige, State Senate President Ronald D. Kouchi, and Speaker of the State House of Representatives Joe Souki, and the Honorable Mayor William P. Kenoi.

 

Commentary: Kama’aina Blues

by Alan McNarie

Kama’aina: someone who’s been here long enough to look at a place in the present, see it as it once was, see it as it will be, and care deeply about all three.  I just spent two days on the Kona side for the first time in years–met my lady friend Kersten’s brother and his wife for the first time and enjoyed the visit, but that enjoyment was tempered by Kama’aina pain. They’d rented a time-share in Waikoloa. I took them to see Kalako-Honokahau National Historic Park, one of my favorite spots on the island: one of the few places left in the islands where, in the past, I’ve seen not just endangered species such as ae’o (black-necked stilts) and ‘alae ke’oke’o (Hawaiian coots), but whole flocks of them. Yesterday, though, all I saw were a single ‘alae ke’oke’o and a few sandpipers. On previous visits I’ve seen dozens of green sea turtles, either hauled out to sun or grazing on algae in the tide pools; yesterday I only saw three or four. I’m hoping that the birds and turtles were just displaced temporarily by the storm, and will return…. Yesterday evening, while Kersten nursed a migraine at our darkened room, I went snorkeling with Kersten’s brother at Anaeho’omalu. We saw only two yellow tangs; almost all 0f the few fish we did observe were small, drab species–probably thanks to the damned aquarium trade.

But one thing was getting more abundant on the Kona Coast:  shopping centers. New developments seemed to be sprouting like fungi all along Highway 19 from Waikoloa to Kailua-Kona. The whole North Kona Coast, which was the home mainly to feral donkeys, a few beach parks and the ruins of ancient Hawaiian villages when I first got here, appears to be on its way to becoming a strip city….

I’m sure many or most of the tourists who sunbathe and play golf at the Waikoloa resorts don’t share this kind of temporal migraine, this painful triple vision; they just see the luxurious cocoon of the resorts, without seeing how much the land is changing. The only glimpses they get of the past may be the petroglyphs along the golf course trails, the romanticized biographies of Hawaiian royalty on the plaques in the King’s Market, and the bowdlerized and inaccurate  “Hawaiian luaus” where they feast on roast pig and pineapple while “hula dancers” shake their hips furiously to the wild rhythms of Tahiti. I think Kersten’s brother and his wife are probably more sensitive than many to these conflicts of place and time; they edit a newsletter for their own community in Arizona, where some of the same conflicts must be happening.  But how could they know that the very place where they came for a happy getaway was arousing such deep conflicts in their resident relatives?  How can they guess that, when our smiles fade too quickly, the smile at seeing them is genuine, but the sadness comes from seeing the land? How can they possibly discern the difference between what we feel about this place and what we feel about them?

How many other visitors notice the tired scowls and forced smiles of the wait help, who likely caught the Hele-On from Puna or Ka’u in the wee hours of the morning in order to reach their minimum-wage jobs? How many of them realize that once, all along this coast, every bay and cove held a Hawaiian village instead of a luxury hotel or subdivision?  How many of them glimpse the pain of what was lost, and will be lost, to give them their few days in an artificial “Paradise”?

And yet it’s not their fault.  They’re trying to get away from their own troubles in their own homes in far-off places, and paying dearly for the privilege.  So we hide our pain and we smile, and some of us get a few dollars from the resorts’ corporate owners to help maintain the illusion.

Today marks the 27th anniversary of the day that I first stepped off the plane in Hilo. Since that day, I’ve worked first as a teacher, then as a paralegal helping the victims of family violence, then as a journalist, giving people information that they needed to know and might not have learned otherwise. I’ve celebrated local artists and local culture, have tracked off-island money in local elections, and have helped to provoke at least four full-fledged grassroots rebellions with the stories I’ve reported. I like to think that I’ve given enough back overall to earn my place on this island that I love so much, though sometimes I wonder.  For the past 15 years or so, I’ve been joking that I was “almost a kama’aina”–and would be until the day I die.

I’m going to stop saying that now.  I’m at least a novice kama’aina.  It hurts too much, now, for me to think I’m anything else. But I know that what I feel is only a scratch compared to the pain of those with older roots. How magnified would my sadness be, if my ancestors had lived in one of those vanished coastal villages–if they’d toiled for generations, piling the rocks of those mighty fishpond dikes at Kaloko-Honokahau? What would I feel if my great-great-grandmother had left my great-grandfather’s piko in one of those holes pecked in the pahoehoe beside what is now the seventh green, but I’m only welcome to come to visit that spot, now, if I’m a corporate employee or the guest of one of the guests? How would I feel if my ancestral village  lay under the foundation of a time-share condo?

There is too much pain, too much sadness deep in the bones of this beautiful island. Kama’aina are the ones who are gifted to feel it.

 

Letter: Another Take on the TMT

The debate over the Thirty Meter Telescope has become extremely divisive for our community. I’ve lost several long time friends because I support this telescope project. This has spread to the community at large. These ongoing protests segued from protecting Mauna Kea to a debate over the restoration of the Hawaiian Kingdom and questioning the legitimacy of the State of Hawaii. The lack of enforcement by Hawaii County and the State of Hawaii isn’t helping matters. Governor Ige’s administration is the prime culprit for the latter. His administration is afraid taking on the protesters head on and waiting for the courts to do the dirty work for them it seems like. The Hawaii Supreme Court is slated to hear oral arguments on August 27th, 2015 for one of these lawsuits. It’s questioning the legality of the Thirty Meter Telescope’s conservation district use permit.. In addition, the Hawaii Supreme Court has a pending decision involving the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope, which may have legal ramifications for the Thirty Meter Telescope. The problem with this course of action is two-fold. The TMT has legally binding permits to start construction now. The lack of enforcement on the part of the State of Hawaii shows they’re catering to the whims of the protesters. This has given Hawaii huge black eye on the world stage. Why would anyone want to invest in Hawaii? The State of Hawaii has shown its content with siting on their hands instead of enforcing the law. This doesn’t bode well for Hawaii’s future. We need to diversify our economy away from unsustainable industries, such as tourism, real estate/construction, and the military. I strongly believe we all need to take a long hard look at what Hawaii’s future should look like. The latter is being completely ignored by the anti-TMT protesters. They’re hell-bent on stopping this telescope project, but haven’t stated any economic alternatives to improve the future of Hawaii. Aaron Stene Kailua-Kona

Commentary: “Safe and Accurate” Food Bill Isn’t What it Seems

Editor’s Note:  Rep. Mark Takai has sent this letter out to constituents on his e-mail list.  We pass it on to you.  –AM

Aloha Friend,

This week, the House will consider H.R. 1599, the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015.  Under the guise of consumer protection, this bill would do nothing more than limit the ability of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to require labeling of Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) products.  While it includes vague language regarding voluntary labeling, it would also nullify current state laws that regulate GMO foods.  I simply cannot support this bill. 

The people of our nation deserve to have consumer clarity, and be able to make their own decisions on the type of food they buy.   In order to meet this goal, I have joined with Congressman Peter DeFazio (OR-04) to cosponsor legislation that will return transparency to the food labeling process.  Along with many of my democratic colleagues, I support H.R. 913, the Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act.  This legislation would enhance GMO labeling by creating a national standard to label food products developed by the FDA.

To date, our nation does not have a uniform system in place that allows consumers to make educated decisions. For nearly 15 years, we have had voluntary labeling; however, standards often differ and lead to variances in the definition of natural and GMO products. Clearly, this process must be improved. 

 Enacting legislation like H.R. 913 would harmonize U.S. policy with the 64 other countries that require the labeling of GMO foods, including countries possessing some of our largest agricultural markets.  This would make it easier for producers, processors, and packagers to comply with labeling requirements, and in turn help export our products around the world.

 If you have any questions regarding my stance on GMOs please feel free to contact my office  here .

Mahalo,

Mark Takai

Letter: Marijuana Dispensary Bill is “Insidious”

Dear Editor,

I’d like to congratulate the powers that be on Hawaii’s insidious medical marijuana dispensary bill!  We have made it so restrictive that we are discriminating against over 13,000 people.  This is a bad law, and all in the legislature have shown your true colors, besides Senator Ruderman.

It is amazing and apparent how the lobbyists and police control the legislature, and the only thing we can hope is the Governor vetoes it as being bad for the people of Hawaii.

The overburdonsome regulations will bite you in the okole!  Oh wait, I forgot that is your plan to keep it as illegal as you can to generate crime, unaffordable prices are sure to be the norm, as is the continuation of the black market.

Good Job (NOT),

Sara Steiner
P.O. Box 2011
Pahoa, Hawaii 96778

Hawaii House Passes Plethora of Last Minute Bills

As the close of session quickly approaches, the House today approved bills that address a wide range of issues. Among measures that passed final reading in the House were those increasing the tax state credit for low-income residents; providing additional funds for preschool for low-income families; requiring health insurers to provide coverage for children with autism; making sex trafficking a Class A felony; and establishing an affirmative consent task force to review and make recommendations on the University of Hawaii’s executive policy on domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.

HB500, CD1, the state budget bill, appropriates funds for operating and capital improvement costs of the Executive Branch for the current biennium, fiscal years FY2015-2016 and FY2016-2017, will now go to the Governor for his signature. The bill includes nearly $6.6 billion in general funds for FY2015-2016 and $6.862 billion in general funds for FY2016-2017.

In crafting the budget, House Finance Chair Rep. Sylvia Luke (Makiki, Punchbowl, Nuuanu, Dowsett Highlands, Pacific Heights, Pauoa) looked to create a “better budget” in four ways, by: (1) limiting growth in the budget, (2) fueling economic growth through selective tax credits, (3) investing in people who need help the most, and (4) reducing the state’s unfunded liabilities and building up its Rainy Day funds.

Earlier, the House passed and sent on to the Governor a bill that raised the smoking age in Hawaii to 21. The bill also banned the sale and use of e-cigarettes in public places to anyone under 21.

Highlights of the measures passed include:

EDUCATION
SB64, CD1, makes an appropriation of $6,000,000 for the Preschool Open Doors Program.

HB820, CD1, establishes the Executive Office on Early Learning Public Prekindergarten Program to be administered by the Executive Office on Early Learning and provided through Department of Education public schools and public charter schools. Read more

It’s Alive: Medical Marijuana Dispensary Bill Survives Conference Committee

House Bill 321, which would establish seven marijuana dispensaries across the state,  is back from the dead.  After an impasse that nearly killed the bill, the House and Senate conferees at the Hawaii State Legislature  have advanced it  for a vote by the full legislature for a floor vote.

HB321, CD1 would establish a medical marijuana dispensary system and provide a total of eight dispensary licenses statewide, three in Honolulu, two on Maui County and Hawaii Island, and one on Kauai.  Each dispensary licensee would have the option to open up to two retail locations.  If the bill passes, the state will begin taking licensee applications from would-be dispensaries from January 11 to 29, 2016. The dispensaries would would begin selling medical marijuana and related products to qualifying patients or primary caregivers on July 15, 2016.

“I’m excited we will launch dispensaries in 2016,” wrote Sen. Josh Green (D-Kona), who heads the Senate Health Committee.  “The final draft included some provisions I fought for such as reciprocity with other states, the ability for ALL doctors to authorize MM cards and PTSD as an approved condition. I hope that all of the licenses ultimately are awarded to qualified, well intentioned local people who put Hawaii patient concerns first. We’ll have several dispensaries on Big Island in the coming years.”

But Green reportedly got into an impasse between himself and House Health Committee Chair Della Au Belatti that nearly killed the bill.   The dispute was over how licenses for the dispensaries would be issued–Green favored awarding them on a first come, first served basis. The bill moved forward after he was excused as conference committee representative and replaced by Sen. Will Espero (D-Ewa), the Senate Health Committee’s vice chair.  In place of the “first come first served” language, the current bill calls for the Department of Health to set up “a selection process and criteria based on merit for verified applicants.”

Asked how the deadlock was resolved, Green told the Chronicle, “We had the public safety chair  [Sen. Greg Takayama, D-Pearl City) decide that point. I contributed the health features of the bill,’  Green told the Chronicle.

“That was the real sticking point between Josh and Della. Josh wanted first come, first served. Josh wasn’t going to budge,” Rep. Richard Creagan (D-South Kona, Ka’u, Volcano) told the Chronicle.  “Della and Josh had worked very hard on it, but they just couldn’t get it across the finish line.”

“It’s been a long haul, to get this bill to this point, going to back to last session when we deferred an earlier effort to provide legal access to medical marijuana,” Belatti said.  “Because of a number of issues, including those relating to the safety and security of the dispensaries, we sought more studied input so that we would be on firm ground when drafting this year’s measure… If we were intensely focused on seeing this measure passed this session, can you imagine how patients who require medical marijuana to get by each day must have felt?  Some have waited 15 years for this day to come,” said Belatti.

Creagan who vice-chairs the House Health Committee, and who, like Green, is a certified emergency room physician,  noted,  “I don’t think anybody is overjoyed with this bill, but at least we have a bill.It’s not greatly changed from what it was Friday before the impasse, but it’s improved compared to the earlier versions….that the current version of the bill does eliminate a proposed 45 percent excise tax on medical marijuana, reducing it to “Just a normal excise tax, like anything else.” And the new bill, he said, would allow prescriptions by doctors other than primary care physicians, and will expand the definition of ailments for which marijuana can be described to include post-traumatic stress syndrome. Other condition such as insomnia and anxiety disorders may be added later: “The Health Dept. will be able to add conditions, and they said they would be working on that.“

The bill would not pre-empt the option of patients growing their own plants, he said. He suspected the dispensary prices would actually be higher than street prices on the Big Island. But, he believed, “One of the things medical dispensaries will do is that the strains will be better characterized.”
Creagan said he thought the bill will benefit O`ahu more than the big Island. “Probably more people on Oahu will use the dispensaries, because it will e easier and more convenient, and people on Oahu have more money,’ he commented. The big Island is actually in pretty good shape, because most people can get a hold of marijuana pretty easily anyway. Oahu—it’s just harder to grow it over there… People have an easier time to grow it on the Big Island, and a lot of people know how to grow it on the Big Island. ”

Creagan said he didn’t know much about the medical marijuana issue initially, but he’d gotten educated on it by talking to his constituents. Having the dispensary option, he believed, would make physicians more comfortable, and would help the process of “normalizing” the idea of medical marijuana use.

“I think that we’re just getting comfortable with the idea that marijuana is beneficial and safe, and is more safe than most prescription medication, he said, and noted that “ People are realizing that there was all this misinformation and misconceptions, and are now much more comfortable that marijuana is a a acceptable thing. He noted, for instance that the notion that marijuana was addictive had been fostered by a law enforcement system that mandated “drug treatment programs” for those caught using: “People got out of legal entanglements by agreeing to go to drug treatment programs…there was noway they were addictive, but it was just an easy way to get out of trouble with the law.”

He credited the legislator’s leaders for saving the bill.  When the deadlock occurred he said,  “The leadership recognized that it was more important not to let the bill die for relatively minor reasons.”

Open Letter to our Legislators: What’s Wrong with the Medical Marijuana Bill

Dear Senator Espero, other Legislators,

The reason you are having so much trouble with the dispensary bill is it is not good for the people of Hawaii. To tell you the truth, the amendments ruin it, and make compliance unaffordable and discriminatory for all but multimillionaires with health licenses.

For one, the definition of a “person” needs to be an actual person, not some shady LLC set up to steal profits from Hawaii residents. One license for one aspect (grow, manufacture, dispense) for one person. Give as many Hawaii residents (not big mainland growers, dispensary owners, pharmaceutical or tobacco companies) a chance to make a good living and people and the State of Hawaii will benefit from your aloha.

Two, if you feel in your heart that sick cancer patients on chemotherapy deserve a bit of chocolate or brownie to take their medicine, then give them the “edibles” from SB 682.

Three, throw away all the amendments (both House and Senate) and revert back to the original HB321. We can’t handle the overkill in compliances, there is a higher price for every unnecessary and burdensome requirement.

Unfortunately, the police, judicial system and NED are still in the grip of “reefer madness,” a self-perpetuating industry of prison for profit and stealing peoples assets through property forfeiture. Remember, the police and narcotics enforcement divisions should be focused on the extreme problems of ice, heroin, cocaine, meth, and other actual crimes like theft, robbery, assault: crimes with actual victims, not the cannabis plant. Please also remind yourself they are not doctors, and they have no business lobbying against laws aimed at giving people access to an allowed plant of their choice.

You as our law makers have got to rise above the money hungry crowd, and do what is right for the 13,000+ medical cannabis patients in the State of Aloha!

Thank you for your attention to this matter!

Sara Steiner
Pahoa, Hawaii

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
Kailua-Kona

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.

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.